The newest song from Brooklyn-based artist Harper James weaves together spoken word and six choruses to describe “growing up, searching for love and trying to feel at home in the world”
When music producer Harper James—one half of alt-pop duo Eighty Ninety—publicly launched his solo project, Middle Youth, on July 1st with a five-song EP (Heaven Is a Feeling), I immediately added the title track to one of our playlists. From there, it became my go-to song, the primary line (“So fuck you, I know I’ll get it right…”) of the more-upbeat-than-it-sounds chorus looping through my headphones as I dodged tourists on sidewalks, sweat profusely on subway platforms and flopped around on my bedroom floor trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to convince myself to do crunches.
In short, it was the soundtrack to my summer. So when Harper texted me a preview of his soon-to-be-dropped single earlier this week, I was nothing short of thrilled.
I listened. I fell in love. And I immediately called dibs (by which I mean I asked, fingers crossed, to premiere it).
To my delight, he said yes. And, when I asked, was also kind enough to offer some insight into the true meaning behind “2009”:
“The song is trying to capture what it was like to be a kid and to feel that special kind of freedom, while at the same time learning to deal with the anxiety and sadness that comes from the inevitable disillusionments, losses and regrets along the way. It’s about growing up, searching for love and trying to feel at home in the world. The song is a bit ironic and dark but winds up moving in a more hopeful direction.”
As for my take (after streaming it ~200 times in two days): It’s a really, really good song.
With six choruses, each with different lyrics, there’s no single line in “2009” to define a morning commute (or half-assed ab routine). Instead, there’s a progression, a true story complete with spoken-word intro and interlude and blocks of evocative, seriously lovely lyrics. (My personal favorite: “I’m walking backwards through a movie score / I got ya baby and my love to keep me warm.”)
“I wanted the perspective of the song to evolve with each section,” Harper says. “I think that maybe helps reinforce what the song is about: how our perspective changes as we grow.”
So without further ado, please enjoy Middle Youth’s “2009”—
I could not be more honored to premiere it here.
“2009” will be widely available on Friday. In the meantime, please enjoy streaming and sharing the hell out of it here. And be sure to follow Middle Youth on Spotify and Instagram and check out Heaven is a Feeling. It’s sure to make a good soundtrack for fall, winter and spring as well.
+ Check out Harper and Abner of Eighty Ninety’s favorite spots in Brooklyn here!
Feature image (provided by the artist): Alina Corbett