Title: A Noteworthy Morning Summary: It’s a musical day at the Collège François Dupont. (Gen fic with background Adrinette, Heartrate, DJWifi, plus Nino+Mari friendship!) Word Count: 1338 Acknowledgement: Thanks @kasumiafkgod for beta-reading this at short notice. You are fantabulous. A/N: In anticipation of Project Miraculous Beats, an upcoming musical bonanza thing from @project-ml, here’s a quickie of some classmates having fun! Also, signal boost for @miraculousdaily’s #1yearofmiraculous tag on 1 September, celebrating a year of Miraculous Ladybug. This is a day early because of our uploading schedule, but hopefully I can just start the festivities early!
Another day of school, another early morning bus ride. Still yawning and rubbing his eyes, Nino thumbs through the music library on his MP3 player. He hesitates over Jagged Stone’s second studio album — the rockstar’s new stuff is great fun, but he likes to kick back with the old and gold sometimes — and guiltily scrolls past that one XY song he got stuck in his head last week.
Nothing feels right for today. Nino pulls his headphones, which are resting around his neck as usual, up over his ears anyway. He hits shuffle, and skips the first few tracks in a matter of seconds. The opening bars of some Coldplay come in, and he apologetically eases past that, too.
Ahhh. From the first note he knows this is it. Nino’s foot begins tapping along to the beat, causing a lady in the next seat over to raise an eyebrow at him. But never mind that. He has music! As the bus rounds a street corner, he starts bopping his head along to it as well, smiling at the pigeons that are still roosting on the balustrades of passing apartments.
It’s Jagged Stone’s song for Ladybug.
It’s going to be a good day.
It’s not turning out much like a good day.
When he walks into class, instead of Miss Bustier, Mr. Damocles is standing in front of the teacher’s desk. Their usual homeroom teacher must be on sick leave. The school principal nods at Nino in greeting, then frowns as his eyes zero in on the headphones still over his ears. Immediately Nino yanks them off, never mind the tunes of Fred Astaire, letting them sit around his neck as usual. It’s not technically a school rule, but Mr. Damocles generally frowns upon noise-cancelling headphones while crossing the road to school, in light of safety concerns.
Miss Bustier never lectures him about it anymore, ever since he promised to be careful. Sighing, Nino slides into his seat next to Adrien, who seems to be falling asleep at his desk. His grip keeps loosening around his ballpoint pen. Ever the dutiful friend, Nino tugs it out of his grasp, casting a quick eye over his half-completed homework.
He does a double take. It’s musical theory homework, probably for Adrien’s piano lesson later in the afternoon. Nino considers for a moment. Adrien would probably be able to get it done over lunch break. He could afford some shut-eye now.
Nino makes a quiet tsk-ing noise. No matter how much his friend might insist he could handle his insanely packed schedule, he would always secretly think it would be better for him to let go of one or two extracurricular activities.
Is there some way he could scheme to get Adrien some more leisure time? Considering the possibility, Nino leans back in his seat, clicking Adrien’s pen as he does.
More students file in. Adrien dozes on. When Marinette and Alya come in together — the former actually arriving in good time, for once — he waves in greeting, and clicks the pen a couple more times to their names. It’s actually quite a pleasant sound. Maybe he could record it and use it as an experimental metronome kind of thing in his next mix. It could be cool.
He keeps clicking the pen, trying out some different rhythms on it. A little post-production, and it had good potential.
Mr. Damocles clears his throat conspicuously, and for a moment Nino jolts out of his reverie, fully convinced he’s annoyed the school principal with all the clicking. Instead, the principal casts a look around to make sure he has everyone’s attention, then raises a clipboard and pen to mark attendance.
Nino gently nudges Adrien awake.
Adrien yells, “PRESENT!” at a level of alarm and volume that is not at all gentle on the eardrums. And, okay, Nino loves the guy, he’s the most supportive and warm friend, and Nino kind of wants to fight his dad to allow him to have a happier time at home, but he can be the biggest dork.
Somewhat sheepish now, Adrien sits back down and casts about for his pen. Nino gives him a thumbs-up as he hands it back.
But now his hands have nothing to fiddle with. As Mr. Damocles continues to work his way down the list of names, Nino twists around in his seat to face Alya.
“Psst. Alya. Would you happen to have, I don’t know, a highlighter or something?”
Her eyebrows quirk up at his strange request. “Since when do you read your textbook?” she teases, as she unzips her pencil case. But as she hands him a yellow highlighter, she smacks her forehead lightly, saying, “Oh wait! I forgot to refill it. It ran dry yesterday.”
“Wow, that’s actually completely fine. Better than fine, actually, thanks!” Nino turns back around before she can ask what in the world he means. His feet tap against the floor in excitement, in something like the beat of his morning music.
So there’s his rhythm, and then there’s Adrien, who’s now tapping his pen against the table as he considers his piano homework. He lifts his hand to play up a quick melody on imaginary keys, and at the same time, Nino goes at a piece of note paper from last week’s completely incomprehensible chemistry lesson with Alya’s highlighter. Since its nib is already dry, it squeaks and scrapes as he does this, and if he changes the direction of his highlighting relative to the grain of the paper, he can actually produce percussion noises to match Adrien.
It takes a moment for it to register in Adrien’s sleep-deprived mind, but a while later his friend stops looking at his scales or whatever and gives him a pointed, questioning stare. Nino shrugs, signing his name on the paper with a squeaky flourish that sounds satisfyingly like a DJ spinning actual records. Ahh. He flashes an irreverent smile at his friend.
Just then, Mr. Damocles’ secretary arrives at the door with forms for him to sign. He closes the door behind him.
Adrien is still staring at him, and now Alya has caught on to Nino’s antics.
If anything, that endeared tone just makes him want to go on. Nino starts up again with his highlighter. He doesn’t even need to look down at the paper anymore, and instead looks Marinette dead in the eye, as if challenging her to pick a side.
Marinette picks her ruler up from the table, positions it so part of it lies over the edge of the table, and twangs. There’s pitch. There’s duration. There’s control.
Nino’s eyes light up. They have a main melody line.
“Well, what else are we going to do in homeroom?” Marinette says defensively, as Alya turns to raise an eyebrow at her.
Adrien smiles up at her and she blushes, ducking her head back to her ruler and fiddling with it.
“What are you people doing?!” Chloé stage-whispers from her seat. “You’re going to get us all in trouble!”
Of course, once Chloé gets involved in it, things escalate quickly. A few rows up from her, Alix picks up her duffel bag and begins tugging the faulty zip back and forth. She nods at Max, who hesitantly produces a Texas Instruments calculator on which he’s downloaded a Pokemon applet, and taps a few buttons to produce various beeps.
“Well,” Nino says, beginning to smile, “I do believe we have a bit of a band going.”
Long story short, Miss Bustier returns the next day to find Kim trying to pluck out a tune on shoelaces stretched taut over Rose’s water bottle, and Adrien shyly playing short riffs for Marinette using a piano keyboard app on his phone. Even Chloé, who has worn some bangles to school, surreptitiously jingles them as she gestures rather unnecessarily while chatting with Sabrina.
She smiles. “Hey class, how about a little impromptu music lesson?”
On a recent evening, I felt an argument coming on with my 28-year-old wife. She, a longtime obsessive Justin Bieber fan who follows the @justinbiebertracker on Instagram, was, per usual, drooling over his latest offering. I felt it was my dudely duty to tell her she was being ridiculous to fawn over a little pop star. But I couldn’t. Why? I, a 30-year-old journalist who covers music and pop culture, am a bonafide Justin Bieber fan. A Belieber. And a One Direction fan too. No joke.
Hence my barely-containable excitement this week: both have new albums out. Biebs has Purpose; 1D has Made in the A.M.
Do I line up for hours to get tickets for either of their concerts? No, I do not. But would it be uncommon though to see me cruising down a suburban street rocking out to 1D's “Perfect” or Bieber’s “Sorry”? Absolutely not. And why wouldn’t I? Both are brilliant, no-nonsense pop cuts. That’s not to say I don’t have a wide musical palate; my taste cuts a broad swath, ranging from hip-hop to rock and blues. But give me the choice, I’d far prefer to dissect One Direction’s heavenly harmonies, analyzing how the now four-piece is getting on with “bad-boy” Zayn Malik no longer in the mix, than wax poetic on Aphex Twin’s acid house days. I’d be the first to spend my time giving Bieber’s brilliant 2013 vintage-R&B manifesto Journals another of its several hundred spins on my Spotify account than get weird to a new Ariel Pink song. (Sidenote: If an artist of any genre has made a more consistently pleasing cut, and a track worthy of repeat listens as “All That Matters” then surely I haven’t heard it.)
What then makes their music so noteworthy? With Bieber, it’s hard to separate his “comeback” story—a troubled child-artist whose personal demons warranted an entire 2013 Rolling Stone cover story—from his musical evolution. But that only further highlights the brilliance of his new album. Rather than rehash old tropes in an attempt to get back in the public’s good graces, Bieber has now dipped his toes into musical experimentation: ambient (“I’ll Show You”), EDM (“Where Are Ü Now”), island pop (“What Do You Mean?”) and even trap (“The Feeling”). In doing so, he’s expanded what listeners expect from a pop star, cradled critics into his corner and, dare I say, given the genre a sonic overhaul.
One Direction, meanwhile, have kept churning out anthemic, uplifting arena-rock-sized pop gems at a steady clip. Made in the A.M. is supposedly their last album before going on an extended hiatus, but when a boy band’s peak-popularity historically expires after a few years, 1D’s half-decade run is already a modern marvel. Sure, what has emerged from their new album is surely not as instantly memorable as that which comprised last year’s stellarFour—although some would argue “Drag Me Down” is audible fire—but it’s only when comparing themselves to their past success that they seem to falter in the least. Make no mistake: 1D is still releasing a steady flow of bangers.
So where does this leave me? I’ll be there, for the foreseeable future, in my SUV, fluffy white maltipoo on the passenger seat, rocking out to music supposedly made for hormonal teenage girls, wearing my pop-music-loving badge proudly. And most importantly, I’m no longer ashamed.