This week an era-defining, multi-platinum singer songwriter is releasing her new single. It would be something of an understatement to say it's eagerly awaited, but enough about Melanie C — let's concentrate on the new Lady Gaga single.
Fact 1: Lady Gaga is the greatest popstar of the digital era. Even if you don't think she is, she is, so shut up.
Fact 2: Her new single, 'Perfect Illusion', is due this week. It could leak at any moment.
Fact 3: I'm not listening to the new single.
When 'Perfect Illusion' appears — whether it's this Friday, or at any point between now and then — I won't listen to it. Twitter will go berserk, radio stations will fall over each other to give it its 'first play', blogs will post reviews and fans will hyperventilate. And I'll see all this happening.
But I won't listen to the song.
How's this going to work?
I've set myself some rules. You'd expect — or hope — that 'Perfect Illusion' will be unavoidable, but I'll do my best.
- If I'm listening to the radio and it comes on, I'll switch stations.
- If I turn on the radio and I hear something that sounds like it could be 'Perfect Illusion', I'll turn it off.
- If audio is enabled, I'll scroll past any auto-playing videos on social media.
- Perhaps I'll be in a shop and something that sounds like a Lady Gaga song will come on. If that happens, I'll leave the shop. I reckon I should be able to get out of the door of any London emporium by the time the chorus hits.
- Though I expect to see spoilers sailing across various timelines I won't read any reviews of the song or actively seek out information about the lyrics or what the song sounds like.
- When the official video appears, and I'm assuming it'll be alongside the audio but who knows, I'll watch it with the sound off.
- (I'm not watching the early stages of The X Factor this year so I don't need to worry about it popping up during montages of contestants being brilliant / rubbish.)
- Anyone trying to Gagaroll me will be blocked and reported.
Is this the most stupid idea in the history of pop music fandom?
Well yes, but also no.
I've been thinking about doing this for literally ten years, since long before Gaga popped up. The idea of deliberately avoiding a song by a favourite artist is really exciting. I love the idea that there will be something out there, readily available, that's totally brilliant, that I can save for a rainy day.
I've tried it in the past, and it hasn't gone very well. My first attempt was a fiasco: someone send me an early MP3 of Girls Aloud's 'Call The Shots', explaining in their email that it was really rather good. I decided to save it, and I lasted five minutes.
I've toyed with the idea at various points since then, but it feels like with 'Perfect Illusion' the time is finally right.
Why Lady Gaga?
For the experiment to really mean something, it kind of has to be your favourite popstar, doesn't it?
And what's good about doing this with 'Perfect Illusion' is that all signs are pointing to this being an actually legitimately great single. The stakes couldn't be higher, making the experiment all the more valid.
(Also: Lady Gaga first played me tracks from 'Born This Way' in May 2010, twelve months before they were released, which means I kind of have twelve months' gratification 'in the bank', so perhaps this will restore some sort of cosmic equilibrium in this thing we call pop.)
When does the abstinence end?
I'm not sure how long I'll keep this going. I can imagine it'll turn into a bit of a hassle. The first hour will be exciting. The second hour will be hard work. I expect I'll probably consider listening to the song after about three hours. Then it'll get easier, but after a week I'll wonder why I'm doing it. You get the general idea.
I've got a few options for the first listen:
1. After precisely one month. One month feels like a good minimum.
2. On Christmas Day.
3. On the day one of my other favourite popstars releases an underwhelming new single — so 'Perfect Illusion' would exist as a sort of backup banger for use in a genuine pop emergency. Like, imagine if Lorde completely fucks it. You're going to need something to cling to in that sort of scenario, aren't you?
Can anyone do this?
Feel free to join me in abstaining. The more you think about it, the more exciting it seems. There are great new songs released every single month, so you'll still have something to listen to. Why not give it a try?
And if you don't fancy joining me, free to listen to 'Perfect Illusion' when it appears. But do so in the knowledge that this might make you a psychopath.