Current Mood: Instagram Live

Forget the television streaming wars. Instagram Live is where it’s at.

John Mayer’s, specifically.

I see your skeptical looks but bear with me, o ye of little faith.

Every Sunday night, John goes live for about three-quarters of an hour.

It’s a session he calls Current Mood, effectively his very own talk show.

Sure, most of us who tune in are loyal fans of John’s music (Gravity, anyone?), but you don’t have to be into his music to like the show.

John is a natural “talk show” “host,” because he has opinions about things and can articulate them insightfully, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously.

The show is conducted in an extremely tongue-in-cheek, unpolished manner. It’s live, but it’s not live television. Sometimes punchlines don’t land and it doesn’t matter because there are no stakes.

Current Mood has all the talk show essentials, though – segments with their own musical jingles, cue cards, a live studio audience (made up presumably of his posse and/or assistants) and of course, guests.

Guests have included his comedy buddies Andy Cohen, Cazzie David, David Spade and Dave Chappelle.

Musical guests Daniel Caesar, Halsey, Khalid, Lil Nas, Maggie Rogers and most recently Shawn Mendes for the Season 3 premiere – all currently very relevant young artists – also come on for a song and dance.

A growing mood

Now 41, John’s musical releases slowed down after his sixth studio album, Paradise Valley, came out in 2013. He only put out his seventh album, The Search for Everything, in 2017. 

Then in May last year, he dropped the single New Light, a bop with sweet give-me-a-chance lyrics and, to abandon all eloquence for a second, an extremely silly accompanying music video.  

It was made incredibly to the Internet’s taste and indeed, it made its fair share of rounds in the meme and GIF circles.  

Dare I say it, it made John slightly more relevant again. 

It was around this time that John started being more active on Instagram too and a natural progression of that was starting Current Mood.  

Since New Light and Current Mood, John has gained about two million Instagram followers and his interest over time has seen an increase on Google Trends.  

It was obvious midway through Season 1 that the show was growing into a thing of its own. Viewers were responding well to it, better than John could have hoped. The show isn’t a cultural institution as yet perhaps, but on the road towards it certainly. 

It’s been growing incrementally: John built an actual set for it. Then came the official logo design by Lisa Frank. Then some Current Mood hoodies – the perfect piece of merch, of course, for a show that is about sitting around and having a laugh.   

Live content = a forever mood

Livestreaming as a medium of delivering and consuming content is on an upward trend. Users watch live video 10 to 20 times longer and are 10 times more likely to comment on a live video. 

From following this show, I can see why. The high level of engagement that livestream gets is due to its high level of transparency, which builds trust, and the immediacy of its interactivity, which builds a community. (Not to mention, it’s free.) 

And that’s the biggest pull factor here for me. Current Mood doesn’t feel like content. It feels like FaceTiming with a faraway friend. It feels like we’re all gathered in John’s basement for a hang.  

Truth be told, I’ve been having Instagram fatigue for awhile now. Too many posts I don’t want to see mixed in with too many ads I don’t need to see. 

My relationship with the app has been on the decline; I post much less, I turn off notifications, I set a time limit for using it – but this is another blog post altogether. 

My point is, in an app where a slight disenchantment is taking place for me, Current Mood is one of the few reasons I log into Instagram now.  

There’s a reason why the show is on a Sunday night. It’s for making Mondays a little less painful. 

John understands the mechanics of the weekend, where Saturday’s seemingly endless high has fast become Sunday’s painful hangover with the dark cloud of Monday looming over it.  

Sunday night brings a sobering end-of-week loneliness that John, a bachelor of four years now, feels himself. 

That’s why, much in the way Ellen ends every episode asking us to be kind to one another, John signs off every session with the following gesture: If you’ve had a bad week, then that’s ok. Monday is scary, but it’s also another shot to try again. And we’re all just here trying together. 

And that’s a f*cking mood, alright. 

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