This project was all about: How might we use music to represent ourselves and text? for this project we had to create the “Playlist of Our Life” this playlist was to include five songs that represent something about us, had a message we agreed with or were significant to us in some way. For this we had a focus on poetic devices especially those most present in music.
The five songs I choose are Dirty Paws by Of Monster of Men, Getting Older by Billie Eilish, THATS WHAT I WANT by Lil Nas X, When You Were Young by The Killers, and The Pretender by Foo Fighters. After doing my personal analysis of each song three of which are below. We also had to present a few of our songs to our classmates for my presentation I decided to pick some photos I had taken to go along with each song whetch they reminded me of the song or the song reminded me of the photos or they just fit the mood of the song (see the GIFs of the slides form my presentation below).
Of Monsters and Men
I always like songs that are battle cries, anthems. This song is an anthem specifically about nature fighting back, but for me it has a general air of rebellion. It makes me want to go on a road trip, to go experience something new. The German’s have a word for this: fernweh (“far”-”misery”). It’s the longing for far-off places, the opposite of “homesick.” It’s the natural urge to want to experience new things, to run around and play, and to have a crazy experience along the way, like the dragonfly in this song who “ran away, but it came back with a story to say.” (0:47-0:53). The dragonfly broke away from its normal life of being a pet and came back with new experiences. It reminds me of road tripping with friends, collectively pushing away from what society forces us into thinking we have to do every day and the business of life. We end up with memories that are kind of weird and only we understand them.
The song begins calmly with a melancholy feel, with just a guitar and a man and woman singing. When the dragonfly comes back with its story after the first verse (0:55), the energy of this ballad-like song picks up and becomes more exciting. New instruments and voices come in, changing from a folky rhythm to a more intense driving rhythm. The music matches the action-packed story of the war between the birds and the bees (1:30). The additional voices create this anthem that I want to sing along with the “la la la” (1:47-2:06). I want to sing along to it but with other people.
A deeper analysis tells me more about the tone of the piece. The entire song is an analogy for rebellion, the fight against something, in this case, nature vs. humanity. The “birds and the bees” (1:25-1:30) is a cliche that represents the natural order of things. The bees here are a metaphor for humans who decide to change the natural order and declare war because “the sky wasn’t big enough for them all” (1:32-1:37) and they want it for themselves. The bees are the buzz of industry. The imagery of “the forest that was once green was coloured black by those killing machines” (2:32-2:41) gives a clear image of the arrogance of people who disturb nature and try to take over too much and play god with the world.
The mood created by this song lines up with my initial response and personal interpretation. It makes me want to follow the urge to go out to play and come back with a story to say.
THATS WANT I WANT
Lil Nas X
“That’s What I Want” by LilNas X is very relatable to everyone, but especially queer people which is why I connect to the song. “I want someone to love me” (0:38-0:44) is a general human experience but it hasn’t been talked about that much from a specifically queer perspective. This song is a message to the artist himself as well as all the queer people out there who are in the same position. There are lines in the song that relate directly to queer people, such as “I wonder if he got the G or the B,” (0:22) which refers to LGBTQ.
It’s a fun, upbeat hip hop song and the video is really good. I think he wants it to be a pop song about love, in the same way that Taylor Swift’s songs are fun pop songs about breakups. A lot of the song is very literal, and even the metaphors are very “everyday,” like “be my sunlight” (0:09-0:11). He paints a very clear picture of “that afro black boy with the gold teeth, dark skin looking at me like he know me” (0:17-0:23). There’s lots of rhyming, for example the last words of the first lines, “night, sunlight, fight, tonight,”(0:06-0:17) which makes it flow. The repetition of the word love and “I want” (0:39) emphasizes his need for love. Phrases about feeling lonely are repeated, driving home the point further. I really connect to this song because love is a human emotion and finding love as a queer person is really hard.
My initial connection to this song was personal because I don’t know who people really are and what they think of me, and whether they’re pretending. I’ve always questioned this. Even if they tell me something positive, I always wonder if they’re pretending or not. After analyzing it, I realized another intention, which is to question the powers that be. It’s anti establishment, about how governments and politicians manipulate us and are not always as they seem. They “keep you in the dark” (0:11-0:15) for the sake of staying in power. For example with Covid, I think many of the cases and scenarios are not being reported or are being tampered with purposefully to make the politicians look better. On a smaller scale, politicians keep their own secrets in the dark and “you know they all pretend” (0:14-0:20).
First I thought the metaphor of the skeletons is the politicians’ secrets, the skeletons in the closet. But I also think “skeletons” (0:37) refers to people who are brainwashed to the point where we just follow orders, hollow and animated. “They need you buried deep” (0:47-0:50) because the deeper you are buried, the harder it will be to rise up against the powers that be. The last part of the song is a warning to powerful people that “we are not permanent, we’re temporary, temporary” (2:03-2:11). This is just the “same old story” (2:11) that has repeated itself in history. No matter how powerful they are, it won’t last forever. The repeating phrase “what if I say…” (1:23) is the people getting up in the pretenders’ face and giving a truthful reaction, not surrendering, not remaining buried. The repetition of the line “who are you?” (3:05) is a call to rise up. I think this song is a call to action, to question, to make sure what we’re being told is the truth.
I enjoyed looking deeper into the songs I like, their lyrics and how they were written. Sometimes when I looked closer at the lyrics the meaning of the songs changed. I realized through this process how much songs shape who we are and your identity. Through music I was able to explore, the longing for far off places, the struggles of queer love and the importance of questioning the powers at be.