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90. Laika – Badtimes

25/09/2009

91

On the face of it, Badtimes is perfectly likeable trip-hop, but it’s not here on the strength of its music. More worthy of note are its lyrics, which have frozen in time a specific moment at the start of the noughties, just as the technology that we now all take for granted was beginning to mature – the pleasure is derived from observing a sort of museum piece. Some brief backstory: in about 1994, an email went around warning people about a virus called Goodtimes. The twist was, there was no virus, and the email was a hoax – here’s a beautifully earnest web page, untouched since 1995, explaining it all. After Goodtimes had done the rounds, a new hoax arrived, warning surfers of an even worse virus called Badtimes – except this email was clearly a parody that made merry of Goodtimes’ serious threats (see another ancient web page) – and Laika’s song is simply a recitation of the latter hoax email, deadpan, over tasteful electronica. Like most web-nerd jokes, it’s not that funny, but the references that sounded glibly hip in 2000 evoke nostalgia now: the ‘tracking’ on your video player, the idea that the best way a jilted lover could stalk you was by getting your phone number, the hazard of a scratched CD, even the very idea of a hoax email about a made-up virus. At the close of the decade, this is a nice reminder of the where we once were.

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