Contrary to popular belief, 2015 was, in fact, five years ago. I was hit with this sudden realisation about a week ago. I’ve been listening to old episodes of Time Crisis, a radio show hosted by Ezra Koenig, lead singer of Vampire Weekend. I always intended to listen back through these old episodes – it’s another thing that I’ve suddenly recently found the time to do.
The early episodes of Time Crisis were recorded in the summer of 2015, and the hosts talk about current affairs alongside their music choices. It’s a strange experience to be transported back to a pre-Trump world – when people would still joke about him actually being elected as the American President, and people were still hopeful for Bernie Sanders.
I listen to these moments with the gift of hindsight, obviously – but it feels almost like another world, a fictional world that I’m listening to an audiobook of. It’s great escapism from the reality I’ve found myself in today. The thing that brings all of this back to non-fiction, though, is the music. Every episode, Koenig and his guests talk about the top five songs in the chart, and frequently compare it to the top five from a different year.
The music of 2015, five years ago now, still feels so fresh and yet equally incites nostalgia. Cheerleader by Omi. Hotline Bling by Drake. Hello by Adele. The whole 1989 album by Taylor Swift.
Namely, listening to Hotline Bling – I can’t believe that song is five years old! Listening to it recently, I still find it as moving – as in, it makes me want to literally move, to get up and dance and sing along. I walk around my house doing the telephone hands Drake does in his (iconic) music video. (Seriously, Drake’s dancing in that music video is incredible. The whole video deserves to be in some sort of hall of fame.)
So I’ve been feeling particularly nostalgic for 2015, indulging in listening to the music I remember so well, as if it was yesterday. In the way nostalgia creeps up on us, I started imagining how much easier life would be if it was 2015, not 2020. This is a tough year for everyone, and a little escapism doesn’t go amiss. I had a vision of 2015 in my mind: it’s sunny, I’m young and carefree, and we’re all vibing to this music.
In reality, though, 2015 wasn’t all that great. It was a year of political unrest and terrorism. The year began with the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January and a multitude of terrorist attacks followed. 2015 is the year of the European migrant crisis that continues to this day: in 2015, the haunting photo of the boy on the beach – three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who drowned when the boat his family was travelling in sank off the coast of Turkey – went viral. 2015, in its day, was the hottest year on record (so my sunny vision was quite apt), and the climate crisis really started to be felt. (2016 and 2019 have since beaten 2015’s high-temperature efforts.)
For me, 2015 marks the beginnings of a retreating into myself. I sat two of my GCSEs in 2015, and could feel, almost palpably, school stopping being fun and starting getting serious. For most of 2015, I was 14 years old, and I started really feeling the pains of adolescence. I was self-conscious, shy, painfully aware of my own awkwardness, and constantly conscious of the hierarchy of school. I was growing increasingly aware of the news, of what was happening in the world and how devastating it could be.
In 2015, I started reading more to escape from reality – both mine, and the reality I was coming to face in the rest of the world. I actually read 100 books in 2015 – which I’ve since never even come close to beating – as I (almost obsessively) tore through the pages of book after book, living vicariously through fictional people.
It’s easy to be nostalgic and remember ‘easier times’ when you’re no longer living them. If I really think about it, 2015 was pretty shit. My nostalgia is a big fat lie.
But Hotline Bling still slaps.