Last week, Patrick Carney, drummer for The Black Keys, weighed in on the debate surrounding YouTube’s royalty payments to artists with an analogy that’s both puzzling and poetic. After tweeting, “Give me five minutes on YouTube and I probably can find 250 songs that are available which the artist isn't getting paid for. At least,” he said, “A song should cost as much as an avocado. They should be traded similarly at least until people discover a similarly thick and savory fruit.”
It’s a valid statement about the dropping price of a song, thanks to streaming services, in part. A song, no matter its length of content, is treated as a song while the cost of fruit is measured by its demand, availability and weight. With this in mind, we decided to treat some of the biggest songs of 2016 like we were in a fruit shop. We’ve picked up each as if it were a fruit and popped it in the trolley after assessing its cost, weight and flavour.
Famous - Kanye West
A durian gets the label as the world’s most divisive fruit. Anthony Bourdain once described it as being “like pungent, runny French cheese”. Of course, for something to even be on the market it has to sell and that’s because people are buying. Kanye West’s Famous, gets the award for being the most divisive song of the year. It’s hard to argue against Rihanna’s creamy Nina Simone-sampling hook, but Kanye’s opening line of “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex,” had plenty of people boiling over including Tay herself. While some people wouldn’t pay a dime for this (most likely those who call it a “publicity stunt”) others would’ve quickly dropped the $20 necessary to subscribe to TIDAL. Coincidentally, the durian also costs around $20 for four kilos of the characteristically large fruit.
Beyonce - Hold Up
Imported cherries are currently the most expensive fruit woolworths has to offer at $19.90 per kilo, so we’re going to put that price tag on Beyonce’s Hold Up. Apart from the fact that fruit and the song of Beyonce’s Lemonade are similar in taste, rich and sweet with an undertone of bitterness, Hold Up may also be the most expensive song of the year. The track boasts 15 co-writers and also samples a song and quotes artist’s meaning she’d be paying a pretty heavy price for the tracks she “imported” into Hold Up. Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Maps is sampled while she also had to ask for permission to use a tweet by Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. That’s not including getting Father John Misty, Emile Haynie and MNEK on board to write - three of the industry’s greatest songwriters in 2016.
Drake - One Dance
Despite recording VIEWS in the middle of a Canadian winter, Drake managed to churn out one of the most summery jams of the year, in the Caribbean-flavoured One Dance. It’s a song that jumps on the trend of dancehall-flavoured pop and as a result has done very well for Drizzy. It’s yet to be seen how well One Dance will age but because of its trendiness, it’s hard to imagine it lasting long as flavoursome as it is now. You may remember slurping down an acai bowl two or three years ago (they’re still around if you go looking). The trendy berry became the latest health food craze and as such prices went soaring. Nowadays, they’ve been grinded down into powder so you can pick it up for around $10 per 50g.
Calvin Harris - This Is What You Came For
You’re never going to hear anybody complain about an apple but you’re probably also not going to hear anyone rave about an apple either. Apple’s are about as consistent as they come and their extensive availability makes them one of the most widely bought apples around. Calvin Harris makes musical apples. They all taste the same and while they might change in tone, from red to green let’s say, your opinions are likely to not change drastically. This Is What You Came For is the poor man’s We Found Love. As if someone bought you a red apple when you really wanted a green one but you ate it anyway because after all, it’s just an apple.
Chance The Rapper - All Night
Chance The Rapper is one of the most in demand artists of the year and if we’re putting a value on that then we’d be assigning him the Yubari Melon which goes for a solid $23,000 per pair. We’re not though, we’re trying to put a market value on a song and for that reason All Night, the funnest, most danceable track off Coloring Book, gets a sole dried apricot. Why? Chance’s Coloring Book was not sold, left only for streaming services, meaning most people consumed the excellent tape for free. A sole dried apricot is the easiest thing to steal in the supermarket. You grab one as you’re wheeling your trolley around the store. It costs nothing and yet it makes your experience so much more enjoyable thanks to that hit of sugar. Chance’s Coloring Book, is the stolen apricot of 2016. It gives far more enjoyment than its cost would suggest.
Tegan & Sara - Boyfriend
Tegan & Sara’s Boyfriend is one of the best pop tracks of the year but while it’s sugary sweet and packed with hooks bigger than any you’ve heard this year, it’s often left out of the pop family. That’s because this is a pop track, free of gimmicks. It’s an anthem with lyrics that go deeper than your run of the mill, Meghan Trainor number one. As such, Boyfriend is a boysenberry because it’s deliciously sweet but often left out of the popular group of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries for puzzling reasons. It may take you a little longer to find but it’s worth it, even if it does cost over $20 for a frozen packet. It’s even more satisfying if you pick them yourself.
Kaytranada - Lite Spots
Kaytranada’s 99.9% is one of the most innovative yet delectable releases of the year pairing pop melodies with jittery, futuristic beats. Lite Spots is without a doubt the weirdest, wackiest tune on the album but it’s also the most enjoyable. It’s a sample-heavy, worldly piece of electronica that sounds unlike anything else you’re likely to hear this year. In this way, it’s rare, as rare as the densuke watermelon. Only 10,000 of these watermelons are grown each year and they weigh 24 pounds. Not many can find it, let alone carry it but if you manage to pick one up for around $6,000 it’s pretty hard to imagine you’d regret it. Lite Spots is being sold for just over $2 on iTunes but it’s so masterful and unlike anything else this year that we recommend pushing its price up to around the same as a densuke watermelon.
Santigold - Can’t Get Enough Of Myself
Passionfruit 99c Woolworths
By calling her album 99c Santigold has already put a price on her music. Thankfully some of the best things in life are free, or close to free, and Santigold’s sunshine-soaked anthem Can’t Get Enough Of Myself is a cheap but fruitful contribution to 2016. It bursts with flavour and while it may take you a few listens to completely get used to it, love is waiting at the other side. The passionfruit is also going for around 99c at the moment at Woolworths. It’s a small, but beautiful punch of flavour and quite frankly once you have a passionfruit, you won’t be able to get enough. That said, don’t eat too many at once just as repeat plays of Can’t Get Enough Of Myself may give a sugar high of epic proportions.
Miike Snow - Genghis Khan
Figs have about as much sugar in them as a candy bar but unlike a candy bar they come with huge doses of fibre and potassium that make them more than worthwhile. Miike Snow’s Genghis Khan is one of the most hooky, melodic songs of the year and while at first it feels like a guilty burst of pop there’s so much more to it. “I get a little bit Genghis Khan, I don’t want you to get it on with no one else but me,” frontman Andrew Wyatt in the chorus of the song, hitting it with a political metaphor that would be seen nowhere near the top of the charts. Miike Snow have an innovative flair for melody and arrangement which means even though it can be consumed as pop, you’re getting something with a bit more weight. Eat candy bars all you like but sometime there’s a need for a little nutrition. That’s where the fig steps in.
Justin Timberlake - Can’t Stop The Feeling
Watermelons are great, don’t get us wrong but they’re essentially 92 per cent water meaning that their weight is basically owed to tasteless flavour. You’ll pay about $10 for a hearty watermelon and while it tastes really good on a hot day, it’s unlikely you’ll be screaming from the rooftop about how good it was. Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop The Feeling is the most watered-down pop song of the year. Like the beautiful circular shape of a watermelon that’s consistent across the fruit, the track offers nothing different, taking a popular formula and changing the positions of the seeds as to not make it sound exactly like Uptown Funk. Sure, the demand is there for it but that’s because it’s so inoffensive you’d have to throw it in someone’s face to garner any attention.
Words by the interns' Sam Murphy