Thursday Three #47

Observations on three songs from the local Top 40 station:

  1. Ariana Grande – “Break Up with Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored.” Everything about this song is repulsive. I have never liked Ariana Grande; she always struck me as, frankly, ditzy and a bit of a slut. Or maybe I’m conflating her with her character from that idiotic Nickelodeon show Sam & Cat. I can only hope she wrote the song with a sense of humor because it could be funny, but I just can’t find the humor. Someone should write a song in response called “Stay Away from My Boyfriend, Get a Life.”
  2. Post Malone – “Better Now.” For some reason, I love everything I have heard by Post Malone. He has such a chill persona. When I listen, I feel like I’m wearing a stained tank top, sitting on an ancient couch in a filthy apartment with cigarette smoke floating around me, and drinking a beer while my homies banter in the kitchen. That is the vibe of his music. This song is about a guy with a broken heart, but even so, he still sounds so calm about it. This lyric sums it all up: “Life, it goes on, what can you do?”
  3. Marshmello, CHVRCHES – “Here with Me.” Probably the sweetest, most innocuous song on the radio today. I doubt I hear it much in a couple of months because of that, but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts. Reminds me of freshman year of high school, where life was all about innocent crushes and the biggest problem I had was homework.

Head Above Water

You typically can’t expect much depth from pop stars, but one would hope that Avril Lavigne has matured from her days as a tomboy back in 2002, and judging by her new song, “Head Above Water,” it seems that she has. Or maybe it was the near-death experience that finally did the trick. Miss Lavigne had been greatly suffering from Lyme disease, and in the midst of her deepest pain, she composed the song, in which she cries to God to “keep her head above water.”

The old saying “there are no atheists in foxholes” came to mind when I first heard the song. In the midst of great pain or anguish, many turn to God even when they had previously forsaken him or had never believed in him in the first place. I suppose Avril Lavigne is one of these. I don’t expect her to return to the Christian faith of her roots, but you never know (and you can always hope).

I find it amusing that the news outlets are calling “Head Above Water” a worship song, and to me, it is. If this was Lavigne’s very first single, everyone would be calling her a Christian artist and they’d sell her album in Christian bookstores, like they did with Evanescence’s first album.

But Avril Lavigne herself may not see the song that way—but rather as a pop ballad or an anthem to show strength in a difficult time. At the very end of the music video is a message about Lyme disease and the URL of Lavigne’s anti-Lyme foundation website. So it appears to be the song used to market her cause.

Either way, I really like the song, and it’s a nice departure from the junk on Top 40, which reminds me, now that I think of it, that I haven’t heard Lavigne’s song on the radio at all. I wonder why. Perhaps it’s because the teenagers who listen to Top 40 were very young or not even born when she was most popular, so they might not know who she is. That’s a scary thought.

Stressed Out?

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days
When our mama sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out

Millennial neuroticism and nostalgia are perfectly captured in “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots. I realize that it’s an older song (came out in 2015), but lately, it’s been played on the radio every five minutes on every station, and there’s probably a reason for that: we can relate.

As millennials, we’re always getting teased for being that lazy, entitled generation, so why should we whine about being stressed out? All we do is couch-surf and binge-watch the old Nicktoons in our pajamas as we’re munching on avocado toast, right?

In the song, the sources of stress seem to be needing to “wake up and make money” and caring about what others think (also, a lack of mothers to sing us to sleep—instead, we have the Twenty One Pilots). Sounds kind of strange for a famous band that probably makes millions of dollars a year to be whining about having to make money, but at least they’re keeping it real.

As for caring about what others think, these lyrics bother me:

I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink
But now I’m insecure and I care what people think

Indeed, your childish fears do shrink, but they are replaced by different kinds of fears. It’s no longer the monster under your bed: it’s the IRS. It’s no longer being bullied at school: it’s being laid off from work. However, when you’re a child, you are less able to do something about your fears. As an adult, you have a little more control over your own destiny than you once did. (But make no mistake: no one is ever completely in control of anything.)

Feeling “secure” in oneself is supposed to come with age and time, so I’m wondering why the main character in the song is still worried about what others think, more so than when he was younger. Perhaps it’s because of that major stressor affecting millennials: social media and the resulting comparison of oneself to others based on very limited and biased evidence.

My advice to the people my age: Keep doing what you love. Don’t use social media to excess. Find some way to express yourself in a constructive way. Come back to church. Do some soul-searching. We do have a mama to sing us to sleep.