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On June 13 Colin Powell was caught on camera singing the chorus to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me, Maybe” along with CBS ‘This Morning” anchor Gayle King. Charlie Rose looked on bemused, never a novice to eccentric shenanigans. Certainly silly but no national scandal, this ill-conceived karaoke selection highlighted just how damn addictive modern pop music has become to people from every social stratum. Sure, song lyrics have become streamlined for maximum repeatability—“Call Me, Maybe” features twelve chorus refrains within three minutes, all set to a relentless and sensory oozing beat. But that’s all carrier wave. What’s really so addictive, a real sinister display of genius, is that it sells a fictional experience everyone wants but almost no one can ever partake in. This comprehensive experience, hardwired into modern American culture, consists of a maximally fun reprieve from responsibility. The Animal House toga party. The Can’t Hardly Wait post-high school bash. The Project X bacchanal. Jepsen’s song captures all of these, and our attention, by offering adulthood’s quixotic wet dream, a retreat from responsibility and an escape into an adolescence felt to pass too quickly by.

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