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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Focus on the Lyrics Friday: Bleeding Out

Yesterday I donated blood for the first time. It’s a weird sensation, bleeding out for somebody else. Being the Imagine Dragons (remember their hit Radioactive?) fan that I am, I thought their song seemed like a good anthem for me today, while I’m still a little weak from blood loss.

Admittedly, I caved and looked at other interpretations of this song online. A lot of people have the idea that this song is about self-injury and suicide.

A lot of people are wrong.

I think this song is the battle cry of sorts for friends or partners to rise up and protect the ones they love…and I think it uses a Biblical allusion to convey that message.

See if you can figure it out.


Lyrics to Bleeding Out by Imagine Dragons

I’m bleeding out
So if the last thing that I do
Is bring you down
I’ll bleed out for you
So I bare my skin
And I count my sins
And I close my eyes
And I take it in
I’m bleeding out
I’m bleeding out for you, for you.

When the day has come
That I’ve lost my way around
And the seasons stop and hide beneath the ground
When the sky turns gray
And everything is screaming
I will reach inside
Just to find my heart is beating

Oh, you tell me to hold on
Oh, you tell me to hold on
But innocence is gone
And what was right is wrong

‘Cause I’m bleeding out
So if the last thing that I do
Is to bring you down
I’ll bleed out for you
So I bare my skin
And I count my sins
And I close my eyes
And I take it in
And I’m bleeding out
I’m bleeding out for you (for you)

When the hour is nigh
And hopelessness is sinking in
And the wolves all cry
To fill the night with hollering
When your eyes are red
And emptiness is all you know
With the darkness fed
I will be your scarecrow

You tell me to hold on
Oh you tell me to hold on
But innocence is gone
And what was right is wrong

‘Cause I’m bleeding out
So if the last thing that I do
Is to bring you down
I’ll bleed out for you
So I bare my skin
And I count my sins
And I close my eyes
And I take it in
And I’m bleeding out
I’m bleeding out for you, for you.

I’m bleeding out for you (for you)
I’m bleeding out for you (for you)
I’m bleeding out for you (for you)
I’m bleeding out for you

‘Cause I’m bleeding out
So if the last thing that I do
Is to bring you down
I’ll bleed out for you
So I bare my skin
And I count my sins
And I close my eyes
And I take it in
And I’m bleeding out
I’m bleeding out for you, for you.

Analysis

Before I give my interpretations, I have to preface this by saying that this song is ambiguous. It could mean completely different things to different people, and that’s part of what makes it so personal.

I think the song alludes to the Crucifiction to call friends out to sacrifice for one another. In a way, it’s a cry to be more like Jesus in his willingness to sacrifice despite the pain. (A couple of the band members are Mormon, so this meaning is certainly possible.)

It’s not going to make much sense unless we look right at the lyrics, so let’s dive right in.

1) “I’m bleeding out / So if the last thing that I do / Is bring you down / I’ll bleed out for you / So I bare my skin / And I count my sins / And I close my eyes / And I take it in / I’m bleeding out / I’m bleeding out for you, for you.”

This is the cry of Jesus “bleeding out” on the cross as the “last thing” he does (while in the flesh, of course). He “bare[s]” his skin to the lashings and “counts his sins” (which are exactly none).  This could also apply to an individual who’s “bleeding out,” or sacrificing something, “for you,” his friend. He exposes himself when he “bare[s]” his skin and “counts his sins,” ready to “take it in” to save his friend.

2) “When the day has come / That I’ve lost my way around / And the seasons stop and hide beneath the ground / When the sky turns gray / And everything is screaming / I will reach inside / Just to find my heart is beating.”

Yet another Imagine Dragons song with a post-apocalyptic feel. This also feels like how a depressed individual might view the world, so I can see why people may misinterpret the song as one related to depression and self-injury. This could also be how Jesus felt on the cross (with everyone laughing or “screaming” at him and the seasons and sky fading, like they know what it means that his end is near). It’s a little extreme of an interpretation, but it could fit. What would fit better yet is a more human explanation. When the individual feels “lost” and feels like all is coming to an end, he will remember what he holds dear to him, in his “heart,” and keep up the struggle.

3) “Oh, you tell me to hold on / Oh, you tell me to hold on / But innocence is gone / And what was right is wrong.”

This feels like Jesus crying out on the cross, as well, doing what is “right” in saving us by doing what is “wrong” in being crucified despite lacking sin.

4) “When the hour is nigh / And hopelessness is sinking in / And the wolves all cry / To fill the night with hollering / When your eyes are red / And emptiness is all you know / With the darkness fed / I will be your scarecrow”

You’ve found my favorite part! I’m a sucker for the word “nigh.” Anyway, I think this is the strongest part of the song. In continuation with the crucifiction allusion, this seems like the part where Jesus is about to die (“the hour is nigh”) and the “wolves,” or people who condemned him, “fill the night with hollering” and someone in the crowd, possibly Mary, has “red” eyes from crying. Still, Jesus hangs on the cross, similar to a “scarecrow” in both his physical position and in keeping the darkness from the crops, keeping Satan from his followers. Isn’t that a gorgeous comparison? I get really geeked out when unusual metaphors fit so perfectly. The lines would also fit for an individual who sacrifices for his friend, who feels “hopeless” and “empty.” He intends to sacrifice himself to keep the “darkness” from taking hold of his friend.

What should we take away from this, then? I think we should be better friends. I hope you’re never in a desperate situation where you must chose whether to save your friend or yourself, though the song seems to feel clearly about which is more important. The lyrics should be applied to the smaller things. Perhaps if your friend needs to discuss the pains in his/her life, you should sacrifice your time. If your friend needs a hug, you should sacrifice your personal space. If your friend needs a tub of ice cream and a couple distracting flicks to get over a tough breakup, you should sacrifice your money. Most importantly, this song seems adamant that if your friend suffers from depression, you should sacrifice all you can (in good conscience, of course) to help.

Or maybe Imagine Dragons is just encouraging us all to donate blood.

Life is a Coma

Last night, SVSU brought The Asia Project on campus. Unfortunately, a poetry slam happened around the same time, so only 15 people showed up to watch the spoken word poetry event.

I’m glad I was part of the 15, though.

The Asia Project is a duo featuring poet Asia Samson and guitarist Jollan Aurelio. Asia writes the poems himself and performs them with Jollan’s accompaniment.

Many of the poems were deeply personal to Asia, so props to him for sharing them. He shared poems sparked by his battle with cancer, his son’s birth, his marriage, and his sister’s tragic death.

The poem dedicated to his sister, “Awakening,” was definitely my favorite.

I related to this poem, but in an unexpected way. I may be familiar with loss, but I’ve never lost someone as close to me as Asia was to his sister.

No, I did not relate so closely to the feeling of loss. I related better to the hollowness he hinted at in the end of the poem when he said, “Life is a coma we can still choose to wake up from.”

“Life is a coma we can still choose to wake up from.”

I’ve been a college student for a few months now, but I feel further away from home every day.

Part of the problem is that I don’t know where home is. My dorm? My family? My high school? My friends’ colleges? Whenever I’m at one place, I long to be at another. I’m stretched everywhere and I’m comfortable nowhere.

When one feels out-of-place, she ought to discover more about herself. With nothing around to distract her, she should be able to look down at herself and say, “This is what I am.”

When I look down, I see right through myself.

The problem is, I don’t know why. I know my purpose. I know what I want to do with my future. I know what I stand for and against. But I feel like there’s some part of myself I haven’t tapped into. It still sleeps somewhere inside me and every now and again it snores, reminding me that I’m not fully awake.

“Life is a coma we can still choose to wake up from.”

But how do we start?

I think I need to focus on the little things. I think I need to start rejoicing at the many places I call home rather than despair at how far apart they are. I think I need to write more, to feel more in tune with myself. I think I need to read more, to climb closer to my future. I think I need to pour energy into everything I do, to live life to the fullest.

I think I need to stop looking and start watching.