The Knocks’ “Shades” is an anthem of happiness perfect for Fourth of July Eve:
Sometimes I gotta wear my shades
‘Cause there’s sunshine dripping down my face
Don’t let these people lie to ya
Don’t let ’em see ya smile too much
They only tryna take it away
Sometimes you gotta hide from ’em
Don’t let ’em see what’s under the shades
Lately, I’ve been really into the idea of not taking anything personally; I’m going to be joyous and laugh because my food tastes so delicious like I’m a four-year-old, and if you think that’s weird, that’s your problem. You’re not going to “take it away.” While the ultimate conclusion here is to not “let ’em see what’s under the shades,” I’d argue that that’s not meant to be taken literally. Let your happiness shine through, just don’t let anymore take it away. Put on your shades when they try.
“Shades” is a feel-good song with a similar end point to OneRepublic’s “Everybody Loves Me” from 2009’s Waking Up — “feels just like I don’t try / looks so good I might die / all I know is everybody loves me.” It’s very different musically, but they both have the I-don’t-give-a-fuck-because-I-feel-awesome vibe. (“Shades” has a quiet voice in the background that literally says “I don’t give a fuck.”)
In typical pop fashion, “Shades” has basically the same musical idea throughout the entire track, but The Knocks manage to present that same idea in multiple different ways that keeps the song interesting for those of us actually invested in music-making and critique, as opposed to the general listening audience.
The bridge of the track is a sort of short breakdown that repeats the lines of the chorus over a stripped back beat, which makes it followable but still different enough to break up the parts of the song. The horn ostinato briefly pauses, and when it comes back in, it’s hard not to boogie.
Along with “Domino” by Jessie J, “Shades” is definitely getting added to my list of songs I can’t help but smile and dance to.