There comes a point long after a comic page is written but hours before I’ve finished drawing and colouring it when I start to panic that nobody is going to get it. At that point, the temptation to explain the joke becomes incredibly powerful, almost overwhelming. I said almost, for it must be resisted at all costs.

I am going to elaborate on this one, though, just because I read comments and I know this kind of thing bothers people. Firstly, you don’t need to know this for the comic to work but the song Amy is singing is ‘In My Trunk’ by Dev. Consider this an extra layer.

Secondly, I chose to feature this song because ‘In My Trunk’ and the album it’s taken from, The Night the Sun Came Up, is my jam, uh, they’re my jams. They’re jams. However you say it, I love this music.

Phew! There, I said it.

People talk about guilty pleasures, but my love for Dev doesn’t make me guilty at all. It does bother me in other ways, though. I do know that seventeen-year-old David, with his punk-rock CDs and his opinions about what the kids are listening to these days, would hate it… but screw that guy. I also know that my friend who only listens to classical music and vinyl jazz records would hate it too. Maybe you’ll hate it and think I’m a douchebag. Well, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I might be, #sorrynotsorry.

I hesitate to describe The Night the Sun Came Up. I think I can find the words. It’s the best bad music I’ve ever heard. It’s annoying and enjoyable at the same time. The songs are catchy and fun but they also contains lyrics like “I ain’t a stripper, but you make me wanna strip.” Look, if money hasn’t changed hands, that’s just called taking your clothes off and having sex with someone. Typically, people undressing don’t have to clarify whether they’re doing so in a professional context. Right, so that’s what I’m processing on an intellectual level, but then at the same time the song is, like I said, catchy and fun. This same song, it’s called ‘Breathe’ by the way, uses the phrase “Put your lips on me and breathe” as a coy euphemism for “Put your lips on me and we’ll have sex,” an activity in which it is assumed both parties are breathing (outside of very specific niche communities). I like the fact that here in the song Dev is choosing to use euphemisms, but the first line directly addressed stripping and who is and isn’t a stripper. I could also talk about this song’s singular deployment of dance-pop accordion. God, I could talk about the deployment of coughing sounds in ‘Lightspeed’, but I feel like I’m getting sidetracked.

You get the idea. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you need to listen to this album yourself. Maybe the whole thing’s on Spotify.

I’m trying to wrap my head around why I like this music so much, or why I like any music. Why does my brain just latch onto some songs but not others. Are these songs just objectively good? I like ‘Let Me Hit It’ by Sporty O just for the part where the woman says “Drop it!” so, no, I don’t think it has anything to do with objective quality, I think a lot of it comes down to the contrast between language and context. I’m not interested in ‘Baby Got Back’ when Sir Mix-a-Lot is describing the butts, but when Jonathan Coulton does a folk acoustic cover I love it, just as an example.

Example two: if you look at just the lyrics to ‘Bodybag‘ by Hit the Lights it’s, well, it’s about threatening to beat someone to death. If you had Slayer or someone scary singing those lyrics, it might sound genuinely intimidating. But instead Hit the Lights start playing their energetic, upbeat pop punk sounds and Colin Ross on lead vocals comes in with his adolescent-sounding voice singing “You’re gonna need a bodybaaaag—” and I don’t believe it. At no point in the song do I believe you’ll need a bodybaaaag at all. Colin Ross is not going to break bones you didn’t know you had. He sounds like he couldn’t break an egg you didn’t know you had. And that juxtaposition of violent threatening language and a happy-sounding pop rock melody and a vocalist whose signing voice is writing cheques his butt can’t cash, that context makes the whole thing palatable. Endearing, even. He’s so obviously harmless, you just end up admiring his confidence and can-do attitude.

The song ‘Whatever You Like‘ by T.I. is, taken by itself, shit. The worst combination of clichéd affluenza and clichéd misogyny. But when Anya Marina sings her cover, the song suddenly takes on a whole new layer of irony and subversion.

Because, like Colin Ross, we don’t believe that Anya Marina can do any of the things she’s bragging about, even if we didn’t know she’s just quoting someone else’s lyrics. And suddenly the whole façade is stripped away. People bragging about shit in rap songs are all just making stuff up. Anya Marina doesn’t have a private jet, but then neither does T.I. He can’t take you wherever you like. Nor can he buy you, as he promises in the song, infinity handbags. It doesn’t matter how rich he is, eventually you’re going to hit his handbag ceiling. You know, MC Hammer actually did have a private jet for real and that shit didn’t exactly work out for him, dude made his fortune and went bankrupt within a year, so presumably it would occur to T.I. that he too could suffer the same fate if a degree of fiscal responsibility wasn’t exercised. This would occur to him x many handbags into the shopping spree, and you would find the value of x quite quickly. Song should be called ‘Whatever You Like (Within Reasonable Limits)’.

So I guess that’s why I love Dev. Context. A dude raps, bragging about how he has bitches on deck, I disapprove of the objectification of said bitches. Dev raps about her bitches on deck and it’s the same objectifying language, obviously, but because it’s been appropriated by the other side of the equation, that makes it strangely empowering? Somehow? I mean, if men and women alike can have bitches on deck, isn’t that feminism? And she’s bragging about how her bitches are Mexican, the implication being that Mexicans bitches are the best bitches. So is that a compliment? Kinda. Is it racist? Kinda. Does it even matter, when — in a situation similar to Hit the Lights and Anya Marina — she self-evidently has no bitches on deck? But her dry, sarcastic-sounding delivery let us know she’s in on the joke too. That and lyrics that in one song encompass everything from beating up a man for something his girlfriend did to playing Scrabble. It’s ironic by virtue of doing something seriously but unconvincingly. It’s playful but not comedy. It’s funny but perhaps not on purpose. It tickles my brain. It’s my trash.

I dislike the hipster practice of liking something ironically, but that’s not what this is. This is unashamedly loving something ironic. It even might be accidentally ironic, but the point stands. That’s not the same as hipsterism. I suppose there’s the same degree of ironic distance, but this way takes a lot more work on the part of the artist and much less work on my part.

Either you think I’ve got a point or you think I have no taste in music and will listen to any old crap.

Well, as Dev puts it, “Don’t be so pretentious / I fit gold like a dentist.”

Now, where was I? That’s right, having fun.