The “race to the bottom” mentality that inspired commercial airlines to compete to see who could install the smallest seats and most egregious fees is now being applied to in-flight entertainment. One month after Icelandair tried out the nightmarish experiment of inescapable interactive live theater on one of its transatlantic flights, Southwest Airlines is formally launching a program to bring inescapable live pop-country music to unwitting passengers on select flights.
If one were being kind, one might describe these stealth attacks as an “in-air concert series,” as Billboard does when it writes, “Launched as a curiosity in 2011, the Live at 35 series has only grown in popularity over the past six years, as Southwest passengers hope that their flight will be one of the lucky ones to feature a sure-to-go-viral performance.” “Lucky” is indeed one word for it.
The program is a collaboration between Southwest Airlines and Warner Music Nashville, increasing the odds that you might be one of the “lucky” ones if you’re taking a flight between Nashville and somewhere where radio-friendly pop-country artists fly to do their shows. That was the case with a recent flight from Nashville to Philadelphia, where country artist Devin Dawson—whose official bio says his “approach to music is not different on purpose, it’s different with purpose”—performed his debut single “All On Me” along with a handful of other tunes.
Note that the video of Dawson’s performance cuts to close-ups after panning over the heroic passenger nine seconds in, whose expression is more one of “who invited this asshole?” than the delight with which the airline presumably intended the music to be received. That is, unless maybe humans weren’t meant to fly at all, and each time we defy God by cutting through the atmosphere in a pressurized aerodynamic chamber, we get a sneak preview of the Bad Place that awaits us after we die as punishment for our hubris. Just a thought.