Pretty? Or Pretty Sad?

The video for Clairo’s breakout hit, “Pretty Girl,” has 42.5 million views on YouTube, despite being shot with a budget of literally zero, and the majority of the top comments are from guys confessing that they secretly listen to the song when their friends aren’t around.

On one level, it’s anything but surprising that guys would be into watching a video of, well, a pretty girl staring into a webcam and crooning lyrics like, “I could be your pretty girl.” The video’s like a 3-minute Skype call from their imaginary girlfriend at art school upstate, if she was real, which she’s not.  

The song’s status as the go-to guilty pleasure of a certain male demographic probably has more to do with its vibe, which is aggressively hushed and sad, like a post-chillwave Belle and Sebastian. It’s not something you’d blast in your car, or even from your laptop speakers, lest your roommate or parents ask, only half-joking, if everything’s OK, and if you need to talk.

Clairo’s ability to reflect contemporary melancholy (do you know anyone who’s not irritable or depressed?) is so on-the-nose that it almost seems too good to be true, which is why a lot of people were angry to learn that her father’s a top marketing executive with music industry connections and, the implication goes, helped shape/focus group her sound.

That controversy’s largely faded by now, though as Clairo tours in support for her full-length debut album, it’ll be interesting to see who comes to her live shows. Will it be fans of her music, or dudes who fell in love with her via YouTube? (And is there a meaningful difference?)

Clairo, 7-10 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 12, 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $25.

Big Thief at 9:30 Club

A noted commentator once said on Twitter, “There are no wrong answers in life, but please just stop making guitar-based music, no one cares anymore.”

OK, that commentator was me, and yes, I was maybe trolling a little (I blame Twitter, it turns people into monsters!), but the underlying point stands, sort of. It’s not a controversial thing to say that rock music isn’t fresh or rebellious or even really relevant anymore, but I’d also add that that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable. Which means I’m also admitting that my trollish tweet was kinda missing the point.

Take, for example, the music of Brooklyn indie darlings Big Thief. Is it breaking new ground? No. But is it enjoyable? Tremendously — almost ludicrously so, yes.

Rock music long ago dropped out of the cultural vanguard and moved into a space where it’s more a source of pleasure than of innovation. And that’s OK. Things that are derivative and repetitive can also be incredibly satisfying. If I’m drunk, and you give me a choice between a Big Mac and fries and a multi-course dinner at French Laundry, I ain’t picking French Laundry, and if you’re honest, you aren’t either.

Maybe the Big Mac comparison sells Big Thief short. With their soaring  wistful folk-rock melodies (think Father John Misty meets the New Pornographers), Big Thief is at least a steak sandwich — but you know what I mean.

It’s sort of related to the saying about perfection being the enemy of the good; sometimes a good band can be just as good, or even better, than a great one.

Big Thief, 7-10 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 10, 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW; tickets, $26

Super Excited About Superchunk!

If you were listening to Superchunk in the ’90s, you were probably pretty cool. If you still listen to Superchunk, you probably have kids who make unkind comments about your inability to use your smartphone.

But one of the upsides of being ol- er, mature, is that you might have a little more disposable income kicking around than those days when you had to scavenge change from your car’s floorboards for beer money. Not that $29.50 (the price of admission to Superchunk’s show this Monday at the Birchmere) is all that pricey in 2019 dollars, but in the ’90s, it could’ve bought you a month of gas with enough left over for a carton of cigarettes.

Founded in 1989, Superchunk was one of the original members of the Chapel Hill, N.C., indie-rock scene that brought us Archers of Loaf, Southern Culture on the Skids, Ben Folds Five, Polvo, and many other bands that have blasted out of factory car speakers while I’ve smoked weed out of a soda can.

Listening to their first half-dozen albums now, it’s puzzling that they never hit it really big, though maybe their modest success was a matter of choice, or even good luck. (Have you heard Billy Corgan talk lately? He has about as much connection with reality as he does hair.) If they were multimillionaires, it’s doubtful they’d be touring now, doing intimate gigs like this, where they’ll play an acoustic version of their 1994 classic “Foolish.”

Grab your (kid’s) flannel and your weed (CBD gummies) and get ready to rock (nod along with gentle melancholy)!

Superchunk, 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4, at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; tickets, $29.50