Jamie xx’s “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” is probably my single favorite track from this year. I was listening to this non-stop when it first came out on YouTube, along with “All Under One Roof Raving,” “Sleep Sound,” and “Loud Places”—anything that was available before the album dropped. I as hype about In Colour as I’ve been been about any other album as an adult. Probably more. And it didn’t disappoint.
It’s a beautiful record, meant to be listened all the way through, the way I like, but “…(Good Times)” is without a doubt at emotional center of it all. Two very ‘of the moment’ artists—dancehall breakout Popcaan and the ever-unquantifiable Young Thug—provide the hook and verses that slide and bounce along a steel drum beat that pops island vibes off a killer sample of “Good Times” by the Brooklyn a cappella crew The Persuasions. It’s a whole ‘nother thing entirely.
It’s incredible dance music. It’s awesome sing-along music. And even more, it’s the perfect song for what I to believe to be the holiest of moments: the pre-party.
Now, I’m not talking about pre-gaming solely as a drinking enterprise: slamming tequila shots before the bar to save a buck or two, or the fratty power hours we’d complete before college parties, slamming beers so talking to girls wasn’t so stressful. I’m talking about being with friends. About listening to music together. About having a plan, and looking forward, but enjoying the moment. Knowing that there’s something coming together, and it’ll be great, especially ’cause you’re with these people in this place at this moment.
I remember the only time I ever went to Las Vegas—Memorial Day. We had a suite at the Venetian. We went to clubs and bars and restaurants and to the pool at the Hard Rock. We drank. We got lost. We hardly gambled at all. But without a doubt, the most fun I had that trip was listening to music with my buddies in our room, having a couple drinks and taking turns ironing our shirts and shining our shoes before going out. There was something communal, something anticipatory in those moments. It was that golden time before.
Hell, one of my favorite memories of the Peace Corps is of an impromptu dudes weekend with two friends, blasting metal and drinking beer in a $5 guest house, somewhere down a dirt road in a run-down neighborhood of a dusty highland town, with no greater knowledge of what to come other than that we were together, we were young, and that after months alone in remote villages, we were gonna go have a good time.
Oddly enough, I think of “Mood Indigo,” the old jazz tune. Wynton Marsalis once described how he likes it because, roughly, “it feels like people having fun, knowing they’re on their way to a good time.” It’s the same reason why Kelis’ “Bounce” will forever make me smile, remembering some girls I knew in school, in an apartment up the hill, where a friend I studied with abroad lived. When she’d call me up to go out, I’d walk up to their place and her roommate would pour me drinks as they all ran around getting ready, and I’d sit back and smile listening to the hurricane of conversation, jokes, stresses and excitement. Without fail, it seems, they’d put “Bounce” on before we headed out the door to the party or the bar or the show. It was the song that meant finish your drink, grab your wallet or purse and let’s go. It was the song that meant there’s gonna be good times.
Even quiet times like this were important. I remember going up to a friend’s apartment before pint night each Tuesday in spring, passing the cool kids’ apartment on the ground floor as it bumped with a pre-game full of people I kinda knew. We’d sit up at the top floor in my buddy’s place, drink a cocktail and put on some tunes, talking about the bars and the girls and the people who were a few stories below us having a better time. We talked about our lives and some memories and a lot about how we were supposed to be too old and too smart and too self-assured to fall victim to FOMO, but dammit, here were. And yet, for all that fear of missing out, for all the unattended ragers in other apartments, and for all the other lives that could’ve been, those early evenings are oddly enough some of the dearest memories I have with a dear friend.
Too often, everything good is happening somewhere else. It’s never “where’s the party,” but it’s always “who’s there?” It’s being at dinner and checking an Instagram feed inevitably composed of other more artfully filtered and arranged dinners. It’s being somewhere and reading live tweets from some event somewhere else. It’s being worried that where you are isn’t the place to be.
“I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” is the complete opposite of all that. It’s the ultimate pre-party, getting ready, going out song. It’s the warm, island jam that is, for three minutes and thirty-four seconds, the bright center of the universe—even if you’re nowhere near a beach. It’s the kind of music your friend says “turn this up” to, no matter how loud the speakers were before. It’s the tune that I can’t help but dance to with a drink in my hand and socks on my feet, alone in my room but on my way out the door to meet up with friends or that girl I’ve been talking to. It’s that song that isn’t concerned with who’s at the party. It’s a collaborative effort of three artists that at once affirms each person’s ultimate ownership in their experience: I know there’s gonna be good times. Or perhaps it’s not quite that, but the strength of their conviction: I know there’s gonna be good times.
In a world where we often reevaluate the validity of our opinions by the amount of Facebook likes they amass, or retroactively judge the worthiness of our vacations on how many Instagram likes their commemorating images rack up, it’s refreshing to be in control. To “Like” our own futures. To positively project the world, the experience we want, instead of reacting. Too often we react to outside influences. Our inadequacy is learned through advertising. Our fear through 24-hour news. Being told we’re not gonna have a good time. This is the antithesis. This is the positive jam that grabs ahold of an evening and carries you and yours from the doubt and echoes in the void that are produced by our mass-communicating, completely-interconnected, yet somehow-totally-isolated existence and delivers you into that room full of music and people that is here. That is both now and an hour or two from now. And it’s all good times.