“Happy Instead” by Cristal B. is a bittersweet pop song filled with jovial background vocals, snappy drum samples, and a simplistically genius production style. Everything about the music screams saccharine, bubble-gum pop goodness, but the lyrics tell a different story. The irony becomes apparent as Cristal outlines an age-old conflict. She croons, “They tell me not to be so sad, / Other people have it worse than I do.”
The song opens with an audio clip in which a condescending voice gibes, “Yeah, but have you tried thinking happy thoughts?” The drums pop into place with a casual yet driving kick and snare groove. Cristal’s light, soulful voice floats over this minimalistic instrumentation, creating a tight and energetic verse. A cloud of background vocals fills up some of the sonic space as we’re escorted into the chorus. A guitar strums a few fresh minor chords. The sound departs from the bounciness of the verse for just a moment, only to launch right into a post-chorus replete with “la la la’s” and jostling tambourines. This contrast perfectly complements the lyrical content, as the song shortly displays a slightly more morose tone, only to be replaced by a more cutesy, happy accompaniment. It’s a subtle yet effective metaphor.
If you’re a lover of all things pop music, be sure to check out Cristal B. Not only is her song, “Happy Instead” catchy and well-produced, but it might just make you think a little bit. It’s clever, pithy, emotionally gratifying, and overall cathartic.
Written by Alyce Lindberg
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