Sorry about this, but I need to invoke it to make a point: Baby shark doo doo dodo dodo. It's in your head now. Remember this pain.
Through osmosis we absorb and retain catchy songs whether we want to or not. Some are designed for children, their simplicity intentional, with melodies built around repetition to teach memorization skills, engage listeners in dance, and illicit joy.
But there's a tipping point. I hear the Baby Shark song everywhere. Over the grocery store intercom. A Subaru at a stoplight; the kids roll down the windows, their mother turns up the volume, they scream the lyrics and shake the vehicle, one or two making direct eye contact as if to threaten me. I almost ran a red light. My nephew Baby Shark'd over FaceTime unbidden a few days ago. Haven't talked since. Not sure when I'll call.
To escape the song would be to distance myself from society at large, to let go of everything I love, like nephews and being in cars at stoplights and walking the aisles of Fred Meyer in search of olive oil. I can't do that until I finish Shadowbringers.
The tragic twist is Shadowbringers friggin' Baby Shark'd me too.
Around level 73, the Scion crew heads to the greatwood of Rak'tika for some more adventuring and universe saving, just another day on the job. It's not too remarkable of an area, some massive trees blot out the sky, their gnarled roots turning in and out of swamps, an ancient temple nestled here and there. Some locals worship the dark with big smiles, some worship it with knives and frowns. It's fantasy as heck.
But the tune that greets you is only paralleled by The Witcher 3's combat music in its intensity and amount of indiscernible wailing per capita. It's a great song! That opening la hee sets the hook right away, followed up by more indecipherable albeit pretty singing layered over someone absolutely jammin on the pan flute, loud driving percussion, and a lively chorus singing in unison. It's a thick jam, gets the head bobbing with ease.
Problem is, it's just one of two songs—besides the occasional combat music and softer settlement theme—that plays during the five-plus hour stint in Rak'tika's overworld. And the other is just a quiet piano arrangement that riffs on the Problem Song.
Let's give it a listen. Don't worry, you're safe here. Just don't let it repeat.
Good, right? Hell of a jam. But the song's construction and the way FF14 queues up music should be illegal in combination.
- The song is short and loops quickly
- The opening vocal melody repeats a few times within the song
- FF14 starts area songs over when you fast travel or exit a cutscene, both of which happen a lot
Because it opens with the Words of Power, the La hee acts as an invocation for the rest of the song to repeat endlessly and forever within my mind. It's a total Baby Shark in this way. Almost no concerted effort is required to memorize the La hee, except unlike Baby Shark I spent a few hours really digging the tune, long enough for my brain to categorize it as Very Good.
Five hours of La-hee-ing later, I've yet to dislodge it from that categorization. It's a free pass for my subconscious to pull it up out of nowhere. A muffled ₗₐ ₕₑₑ in the back of my skull, buried under my active work tasks or anxieties, even hunger, is enough to part them all like the Red Sea to make way for the Rak'tika theme.
Conscious: I should probably pay the electric bill tod—
Subconscious: LA HEE!
Conscious: I'm so terribly hungry. Days without food. Sandwic—
Subconscious: LA HEE!
Conscious: Hope I can maintain eye contact with literally anyon—
Subsoncious: LA HEE!
Concious: You're a good writer. You're a good writer. You—
Subconscious: LA HEEEeey, you should talk to someone.
While browsing the internet to see if I was alone with my Rak'tika stance, I made it worse for myself.
La hee! You may not have ebola…
YouTube user Partizka imagined English lyrics for the whole song that I cannot un-hear. Worse, is that it codifies the rest of the song in a way that makes sense to me as an English speaker. Not actual sense, but enough sense that my brain's linked the initial La hee hook into these false lyrics. While I once was only able to sing the La hee, I'm now able to sing the entire song this way. It's easier to conjure up and harder to file away.
Things are getting worse, too, infecting Final Fantasy 14 as a whole. Tumblr user Dressed to Heal shared this image, a FF14 meme nested in a Drake meme, but evidence that once you've La-hee'd, you hear it everywhere.
There's no looking at this early Final Fantasy 14 villain the same way, either. My instinct is to blame Tumblr user Torr-Sceadu for ruining Lahabrea for me, but I have a sinking feeling it would've happened anyway.
The grocery store won't ever play the Rak'tika theme. My nephew will never sing it to me. No Subaru and its terrible contents will ever threaten me with a La hee. But I paid the cosmic tax to nudge Shadowbringer's story along.
I took a bath in some La hee. It's in my pores. I sing it to my cats. I scream it in the shower, supplanting the La hee with Wash-y. Even Trailer Park Boys' beloved trailer park supervisor Jim Lahey has been ruined for me. There's no going back now. It'll follow me until the next earworm, which could be days, weeks, years—never.
Something terrible has happened. Tyler made a monster.
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James is stuck in an endless loop, playing the Dark Souls games on repeat until Elden Ring and Silksong set him free. He's a truffle pig for indie horror and weird FPS games too, seeking out games that actively hurt to play. Otherwise he's wandering Austin, identifying mushrooms and doodling grackles.