Ryan Coogan, The Independent
Move over Ice Spice. Hit the bricks, Taylor Swift. In a while, Harry Styles. There’s a new song of the summer — and it puts your faves to shame. Sure, it may not have been recorded in a big, fancy recording studio. And sure, it may not really even qualify as a “song”. But it has still inspired musicians from all across the world to pitch in to record and re-record their own versions of the tune in every genre from acapella to acoustic guitar to full-on orchestral arrangements. If you haven’t heard it by now, the new song “Sitting” by the actor and comedian Brain Jordan Alvarez is taking the internet by storm. Alvarez is a gifted actor and has appeared in a handful of movies, including last year’s surprise horror-comedy hit M3gan, but it’s on social media where he really shines.
The comedian has developed a sizeable following by making skits on Instagram, using the app’s camera filters to distort his face and create a cast of recurring characters with their own personalities and backstories. There’s the endlessly positive foreign exchange student from an indeterminate European country, the rich southern aunt who lives for gossip, the Australian fitness bro whose accent is way too good to be coming out of an American comedian — you get the idea. He’s a one-man Saturday Night Live (if SNL was really, really weird).
Recently, Alvarez recorded himself improvising a song by one of his characters — a brash, nebulously foreign man whose portrayal is just on the right side of offensive — about… well, sitting down.
Specifically, how sitting down is better than standing up, with all the nuance and insight that premise entails. It’s exactly the kind of thing you might find yourself making up in the shower after spending a week confined to your apartment, alone. The mutterings of a gradually unravelling mind. (We all remember Covid.)
It’s also a ridiculously catchy earworm. The first time I heard it, I didn’t really understand the hype, until I found myself humming it alone in my bedroom about six hours later. “Sitting… sitting is-a better than standiiiing… sitting is better than-a running around… sitting is a wonderful thiiiing toooo dooooo”. Every time I show it to somebody, I feel like I’m showing somebody the videotape from The Ring — passing on a terrible curse in the hopes of one day finally exorcising it from my own mind.
It seems I’m not the only one, as people from all over the world have begun submitting their own renditions of “Sitting” in a collective attempt to somehow make sense of why an improvised song about nothing can somehow occupy 85 per cent of our waking thoughts. There have been full music videos, group performances involving around 50 people, piano tutorials — reactions to the song have ranged from ironic appreciation to genuine fandom, to a kind of grim fascination that causes them to examine it from every angle, and try to figure out how something so stupid could be so, so good.
One fan even convinced an Australian radio station to play a popular remix of the song, with an American radio show following suit a few days later. When a meme breaks the confinement of post-ironic Twitter you know you’re on to something special. It’ll only be a few days until a politician name-drops it in a speech and ruins the fun for all of us.
There’s so much talent on display in the various responses to the song, that it’s easy to forget that their impetus was somebody just filming themselves having fun on Instagram. It’s a reminder of the positive side of social media — how despite all the toxicity, the scamming and the straightforward evil, the internet is a tool of world-spanning communication, where people can share skills and passions that, even just a decade or two ago, may have never been exposed to the light of day.
Imagine pouring your heart and soul into a project and having your work reduced to your romantic connections. If you’re a woman, you probably don’t have to strain too hard to envisage this. You can probably conjure up the sense of embarrassment,
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