Focus on the Lyrics Friday: Alone

It seems a little ironic for me to analyze a song about human interaction on a blog, but, hey, it has to be done. “Alone” by Armin van Buuren (feat. Lauren Evans) is one of my favorites at the moment because it makes a statement. It’s not about a relationship between two people; it’s about the relationship between all of us (or the lack thereof). Though it’s not the most popular song on his new album (you may have heard his hit, “This Is What It Feels Like“), I think it’s incredibly relevant and meaningful.


Lyrics of “Alone” by Armin van Buuren, feat. Lauren Evans

Everyone is walking on the edge of life
Like a ghost of a shadow, barely alive
Even time’s in a rush
But it’s going nowhereEveryone’s connected but no one is connecting
The human element has long been missing
Tell me, have you seen it?
Have you seen it?Or are we alone?
‘Cause I need something to believe in
Tell me, are we alone?
Where is the life? Where is the feeling?
Is anybody out there?
Is anyone listening?
Is anyone left in this whole world?
Or are we alone?
Alone…Where is the feeling?Everybody needs to know
Somebody who cares.
Just a friendly face
You can trust to be there.
Are you afraid to be known
And not be a stranger?

‘Cause everyone’s connected but no one is connecting
The human element has long been missing
Tell me, have you seen it?
Have you seen it?

Or are we alone?
‘Cause I need something to believe in
Tell me, are we alone?
Where is the life? Where is the feeling?
Is anybody out there?
Is anyone listening?
Is anyone left in this whole world?
Or are we alone?
Alone…

Is anyone left in this whole world?
Or are we alone?
Alone…

Analysis
1) “Everyone is walking on the edge of life / Like a ghost of a shadow, barely alive / Even time’s in a rush / But it’s going nowhere”
Another line involving ghosts! I guess I have a tendency for the paranormal lately. This reminds me of a line from another group I mentioned before who said, “Life is a coma we can still choose to wake up from.” We’re not really living, we’re just following our routines day in, day out, “walking on the edge of life.” Evan sings that we’re “like a ghost of a shadow,” which is about as far away from life as you can be without being dead. I love the personification of time at the end, too; it reminds me of the phrase “time flew by.” Today, everyone’s in a rush, too busy to talk, too busy to connect with other people, too busy to care–and time is no exception. Still, van Buuren says, though time is rushing, “it’s going nowhere.” Time itself has no destination; it’s infinite. The way the lyrics are written, though, makes it sound negative, since the word “even” lumps us with time. We’re all in a rush, and we’re all going nowhere. Oh, we may have more of an end destination than the infinite time; we may be rushing to work or to the doctor or home, but that means nothing because we’re rushing; we’re not giving ourselves time to establish personal connections. When we’re at work, we’re rushing to get home and when we’re home, we’re rushing to get to work.
2) “Everyone’s connected but no one is connecting / The human element has long been missing / Tell me, have you seen it? / Have you seen it?”
I love paradoxes; they make you stop and think, and in a song like “Alone,” stopping to think is essential. When the lyrics say “everyone’s connected,” they’re referring to modern technology. Don’t get me wrong; I love my smartphone and laptop as much as the next girl, and I’m constantly scrolling through Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Tumblr. I mean, I have a blog, for goodness’ sake. But the problem is that our wifi connections are becoming more important than our personal connections; in other words, “everyone’s connected but no one is connecting.” As Evans sings, “the human element has long been missing.” Even in conversation we’ve become masters of small talk. I can talk for hours without actually saying anything. (Ha! Another paradox!) Now that the paradox has commanded our attention, we’re asked a rhetorical question: “Have you seen it?” The lyrics are really forcing us to think for ourselves in this song!
3) “Or are we alone? / ‘Cause I need something to believe in / Tell me, are we alone? / Where is the life? Where is the feeling? / Is anybody out there? / Is anyone listening? / Is anyone left in this whole world? / Or are we alone? / Alone…”
At first, this song confused me. Who is “we”? How could “we” be alone? I think I understand now, though. “We” is anyone who connects. The speaker wants to connect (rather than just be connected) but she sees very few other people who want the same. We’re no longer paying attention to other people on the street or even “listening” to what goes on around us. The music video makes the meaning behind these lines much clearer. It should be noted that these are the lines with which the song ends, as well, leaving the word “alone” echoing in our minds.
 4) “Everybody needs to know / Somebody who cares. / Just a friendly face / You can trust to be there. / Are you afraid to be known / And not be a stranger?”
The last line here is like a dare: “Are you afraid to be known and not be a stranger?” Really, what is so frightening to us about one-on-one connections? Why do we struggle to help those we don’t know? Perhaps we’re afraid of rejection. But isn’t the risk of rejection worth the possibility of helping or meeting someone new? As Evans puts it, “Everybody needs to know somebody who cares.” Who would disagree with that? Surrounding yourself with people who care for you is like surrounding yourself with pillows; no matter which way you fall, you’ll have something to ease the pain. The hardest part is finding those individuals. As the lyrics suggest, as long as you stay in your bubble, chances are no one will come into yours. In our society, it takes something or someone extraordinary to join people together; I’m finding this to be more true as I age.
How did you like today’s song pick? This is the first (but not last) time I’ve analyzed the lyrics of a dance/electronic song. You’ve probably picked up on it by now, but I tend towards alternative, electronic, and pop-rock. Really, I just like fast, upbeat songs (with beautiful lyrics, of course).
Nonetheless, I’m open to all suggestions, regardless of genre or pace.
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