Feels Like the First Haim

My entry in the Haim fan club and a near-fifty-year-old’s lament of the Tik Tok generation.

I want to start by saying I don’t feel the least bit guilty about this post’s title, considering that the band themselves were promoting last year’s tour with a version of Daft Punk’s “One More Haim.”

I was proud of myself for not letting this turn into a Dirty Projectors fan blog, but then Haim snuck in on the Seth Meyers show dressed as vampire brides, and the next thing I knew, I was a fan. It’s kind of the same trap I fell into with Neko Case: I had no idea they were funny! With Haim, on top of the title of their third album, there’s their Twitter and Instagram accounts. They make it clear that while they take the music part seriously, everything that comes with fame and self-promotion is really just an excuse for them to wear nice clothes and have fun.

Granted, most people who know me will know that I’ve always had the spirit of a twenty-something Los Angeles millennial Jewish woman, trapped in the body of a big hairy, nerdy WASP. But even if you don’t have an affinity for it like I do, they’re doing a hell of a job of selling a lifestyle: being a young, successful woman in LA. They keep getting Paul Thomas Anderson to direct their videos of them walking around the city, taking their clothes off, racing each other through the Forum parking lot, wandering through car washes, or having a make-up-related breakdown while complaining that you don’t understand me, and it just seems like even at its grimiest and most suburban sprawling, the city would be a fascinating place to live in.

They’ve done more to make me like Los Angeles than Randy Newman ever could, and as far as I know they’ve never resorted to a single palm-tree-lined boulevard or B-roll shot of Randy’s Donuts.

And it still amazes me to see artists and celebrities who’ve figured out how not just to navigate the 21st century, but to thrive in it. I tend to feel like “my generation” treated American culture much the same way Exxon treats the Gulf of Mexico: short-sightedly mining everything we could get and then leaving it uninhabitable.

When I’ve tried Tik Tok (twice now!), it’s not just that I don’t understand it because I’m old; it’s so alien to me that it’s almost repulsive. Everyone seems to be either cringingly narcissistic, brazenly opportunistic, shrilly didactic, or just dumb, and all of it at maximum possible volume and intensity. I suspect what its fans are better able to do is appreciate a constant barrage of everything horrible and wonderful at the same time. They can more easily filter out the garbage and get to the heart of what’s fun about what they like. And probably better differentiate what deserves to be taken seriously and what doesn’t, which seems to be a major failing of Gen-Xers like me.

Whatever the case, it results in stuff like the video for “I Know Alone,” which is simultaneously a professionally-produced piece of promotional material for a song from a best-selling album by a group of professional musicians on a major record label, and also three sisters doing a choreographed dance on video in their back yard. And not a bit of it feels insincere or, even more remarkable, performative. I kind of get the sense that this is the kind of thing they’d be choosing to do on a weekend during the pandemic anyway, because they have fun with it, and if you happen to like watching it, cool.

Maybe the real secret all along was “dance like nobody’s watching?”