SLICE OF US

Blinding Lights of Hope

A hit record, a Tik Tok dance and a lockdown anthem

Ever since I told my friend about my slight obsession with Blinding Lights — yes, The Weekend’s smash hit, popularized by the Tik Tok dance making its rounds across the world, from hospital halls to grandparents’ living rooms — he’s been forwarding me various remixes and acoustic versions of the song.

Even after he cautiously prefaced his selections, ‘Not as good as the original, but it has an interesting take,’ to my surprise, I rejoiced in the energetic melody with just as much excitement as the first time.

‘Now you have some more versions to obsess over!’ he laughed.

And he wasn’t kidding — while glancing over my Spotify saved songs list that afternoon, I saw:

Blinding Lights — The Weekend

Blinding Lights — Boyce Avenue Cover

Blinding Lights — Late Night Piano Remix

Blinding Lights (Major Lazer Remix)

After contemplating if a Tik-Tok dancing Gen-Z hijacked my phone, or if the quarantine has been making me more prone to forming emotional attachments to intangible things, I lamented what makes a song like Blinding Lights so popular. And why is music such a powerful evocative form?

We’re all tryna call, even when the beeping sounds feel more isolating than connecting. They are reminders that nothing can replace physical touch — the act of missing solidified while lost in the digital translation.

From a stretch to a stretch-dance

As someone who doesn’t source music outside of what the Spotify algorithms decide to feed into my ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist, I became familiar with Blinding Lights fairly late in the game.

It all started when I went for a cheeky socially-distanced jog around Queen’s Park at daybreak, two weeks ago. The sun rays reflecting from the glass towers have a way to peek through the scattered trees in a way that is both beautiful and comforting at that time of day.

Coincidentally it was a Monday, so Spotify let me know my personalized playlist, ‘based on the music I already love,’ was ready. Perfect timing. I hit shuffle play.

Barely breaking into a stretch, the extraterrestrial hovering sounds whirled their way through my ear canals and straight into my eardrums until I felt like breaking into a stretch-dance instead.

I clicked the two circular grey arrows on the Spotify control bar, which launched me into a 10k-long replay of the song, marking the beginning of my obsession.

Fast-forward a few weeks later, and I have five other versions saved in my library.

A quarantine diary

Arguably what has become one of the most popular songs during our lockdown era, with more than 800 million plays on Spotify alone, and many more millions — from celebrities, and construction workers, to nurses and shirtless dudes — partaking in Tik Tok dance-offs, Blinding Lights has become almost like an anthem of our newfound complicated lives.

I’ve been tryna call

I’ve been on my own for long enough

Maybe you can show me how to love, maybe

I’m going through withdrawals..

What The Weekend is experiencing feels pretty familiar, regardless if he’s mainly lamenting over a lost romance. Loneliness and separation are the new highlights of our social fabric.

We’re all tryna call, even when the beeping sounds feel more isolating than connecting. They are reminders that nothing can replace physical touch — the act of missing solidified while lost in the digital translation.

Little pieces of sound waves, astray, pulsating through invisible electricity.

I look around and

The city’s cold and empty

No one’s around to judge me

I can’t see clearly when you’re gone.

Our urban spaces are deserted, lifeless — only the occasional sound of sirens reminding us that life continues outside our brick and mortar.

Inside our homes, we negotiate with uncertainty — what is permissible or not. Yet, in our private spheres, we also find a new kind of freedom — perhaps newfound confidence. We give ourselves permission to join the world in a new dance.

However, the freedom within our personal spaces comes at the cost of the exile from our public lives.

Nothing can feel more debilitating than when we find a loved one trapped on the other side of the virus. The outdoor becomes a heavily-guarded border, and you don’t have a passport.

Then you feel the ounces of freedom slowly being stripped away.

Finding ourselves in the middle of these paradoxes can feel nothing short of blinding.

Inside our homes, we negotiate with uncertainty, yet the freedom within our personal spaces comes at the cost of the exile from our public lives.

I said, ooh, I’m blinded by the lights

No, I can’t sleep until I feel your touch

I said, ooh, I’m drowning in the night

Oh, when I’m like this, you’re the one I trust.

Love, connection and togetherness can feel blinding. Grief, distance and isolation can too.

But only our collective resilience has the power to carry us ashore after drowning in a sleepless night.

Hope is our anchored float. Our beaming lighthouse.

Blinding lights of hope.

Hope is our anchored float. Our beaming lighthouse.

Blinding lights of hope.

Midnight

I open the window. The city is lit up softly. In the middle of the night, you can hear the same silence of daytime hours, minus all the light.

I play Blinding Lights. Boyce Avenue’s cover.

The city lights aren’t blinding now. The sun isn’t either. But my hope is.

Blinding hope, the spirit of resilience. It blocks everything else out.

And I’m perfectly okay with it.

Blinding hope, the spirit of resilience. It blocks everything else out.

A Tik Tok Dance

While making sense of our world, a collective pursuit has the power to build a sense of community.

I challenge you, you challenge your friends, then friends split-screen dance with their friends, followed by your dad. He hasn’t left the couch in days, but he joins in too, because — quarantine. And the next day, the entire world has joined your dance.

And what can be more beautiful?

While making sense of our world, a collective pursuit has the power to build a sense of community.

The song that we all know and like, for better or worse, sought to absorb our collective angst. It gave us an antidote to loneliness and a sense of community.

The instruments, extraterrestrial — isn’t our world right now?

The lyrics, unrelated, yet ghostly relatable.

And the sound, a symbol of hope and resilience, for a community under lockdown making sense of its world.

Exploring the intricacy of ideas and the human condition. Interests include culture, travel, marketing, design, and mental health. 📩 Linkedin @andreibiltan

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