Focus on the Lyrics Friday: Kids in the Dark

I tried to think of a good easter song to analyze but I don’t think I know any easter songs, much less easter songs in need of analysis. Somebody should get on that.

In any case, my friend Alex introduced me to this new song by All Time Low earlier this week and I fell in love with the lyrics (and the song itself–very Fall Out Boy-esque). So, without further ado, I give you my analysis of All Time Low’s new single “Kids in the Dark.”


Lyrics

Here we are,
at the end of the road — a road that’s quietly caving in,
Come too far to pretend that we don’t — we don’t miss where we started.
Looking back, I see a setting sun
and watch my shadow fade into the floor.
I am left standing on the edge
wondering how we got this far

They left us alone,
the Kids In The Dark,
to burn out forever,
or light up a spark,
We come together,
state of the art,
We’ll never surrender,
the kids in the dark,
So let the world sing,
“What a shame,
what a shame,
beautiful scars,
on critical veins,”
Come together,
state of the art,
We’ll never surrender,
the Kids in the dark,
the kids in the dark…

Here we are at the top of the hill — a hill that’s quietly crumbling,
Been a while since you dressed for the kill– the kill that sent me tumbling,
Looking up, I see a falling star, and watch its fire burn into the floor,
I am left standing on the edge,
wondering why we fall so hard

They left us alone,
the Kids In The Dark,
to burn out forever,
or light up a spark,
We come together,
state of the art,
We’ll never surrender,
the kids in the dark,
So let the world sing,
“What a shame,
what a shame,
beautiful scars,
on critical veins,”
Come together,
state of the art,
We’ll never surrender,
the kids in the dark,
the kids in the dark…

Analysis

At its core, this song is about people who face tough times joining together and fighting to be happy and lively once more. It has an optimistic message, but it’s realistic because it acknowledges that these situations happen and that they will happen again.

1) “Here we are, / at the end of the road — a road that’s quietly caving in, / Come too far to pretend that we don’t — we don’t miss where we started / Looking back, I see a setting sun / and watch my shadow fade into the floor. / I am left standing on the edge, / wondering how we got this far.”

The “end of the road” signifies the end of a chapter of a person’s life. If the road is “caving in,” it has been ending for some time. The “we” of the song have been on this path for a while and miss what life was like before they walked down this road. They started out with more light–more joy, more optimism, more life–but the light is now setting behind them. Even the speaker’s shadow is fading “into the floor,” signifying not only that he is left in the dark, but that part of him is lost to the darkness. He stands on the edge of the road, wondering how they came so far in spite of the crumbling road and pressing darkness.

2) “They left us alone, / the Kids In The Dark, / to burn out forever / or light up a spark, / We come together, / state of the art, / We’ll never surrender, / the kids in the dark, / So let the world sing, / ‘What a shame, / what a shame, / beautiful scars / on critical veins'”

These “kids in the dark” are individuals who face tough times. The kids have two options: embrace the darkness and lose hope (“burn out forever”) or make their own light, their own greatness (“light up a spark”). They’re united in their darkness, and vow to “never surrender.” I think this makes it clear that the speaker wants them to “light up a spark” rather than surrender to the darkness. “They” (“the world,” as he later calls them) don’t recognize the potential of the kids in the dark. The phrase “what a shame” is often used in mock pity, and I don’t think that’s changed for this song. The world may titter that it’s a shame those kids have “beautiful scars on critical veins”–a reference to cutting–but the world is the one to push them in the dark in the first place. Still, the speaker says the kids in the dark should “let” the world say so, brushing off their mock pity and standing up to fight the darkness directly.

3) “Here we are at the top of the hill — a hill that’s quietly crumbling, / Been a while since you dressed for the kill– the kill that sent me tumbling, / Looking up, I see a falling star, and watch its fire burn into the floor, / I am left standing on the edge, / wondering why we fall so hard”

The speaker isn’t just standing at the edge of a road; he’s at the top of a hill. The path he’s taken has been a struggle upward. The hill, too, is “crumbling” so everything around him is falling apart. This is where it gets confusing. When the second line refers to “the kill that sent me tumbling,” I believe it means the situation that pushed him toward the dark. Still, I’m unsure as to why he refers to “you” and why you’re “dress[ing] for the kill.” Any thoughts on that subject are welcome in the comments below. The “falling star” the speaker sees could be another kid in the dark, falling from the heavens to the earth, where the kid’s fire–like the speaker’s shadow–is lost to the floor. That would explain why the speaker wonders “why we fall so hard.”

Though this second verse is more depressing, the song ends with a repetition of the chorus, which says the kids in the dark will still unite and will still try to fight the darkness. No matter how hard or how many times they fall, the kids in the dark will keep fighting for light.

I think we’re all kids in the dark–at least at some point. We’ve all been through (or will go through) tough times that force us into a dark chapter of our lives. But, as All Time Low says, we will keep fighting toward the light. We will not surrender to the darkness. We will join together in our tough times and eventually we will be in the light again.

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