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: 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.

Focus on the Lyrics Friday: Flaws

Today marks the start of a new weekly post: the Focus on the Lyrics Fridays.

Henceforth, I shall post a song every week along with the lyrics and my interpretation of them. The goal? To emphasize the power of words in music (and rejoice in the fact that not all modern music lacks poetry).

Who better to start with than my favorite band, Bastille? You probably know them for their hit Pompeii, but have you heard their other songs?

All their lyrics are poetic and unique; they lack the strings of profane and sexual language common in popular music today. More than that, they make you think.

Without any further fanfare, I present to you Focus on the Lyrics Friday: Flaws by Bastille.


Lyrics to Flaws by Bastille

When all of your flaws and all of my flaws
Are laid out one by one
The wonderful part of the mess that we made
We pick ourselves undone.

All of your flaws and all of my flaws
They lie there hand in hand
Ones we’ve inherited, ones that we learned
They pass from man to man.

There’s a hole in my soul.
I can’t fill it, I can’t fill it.
There’s a hole in my soul.
Can you fill it? Can you fill it?

You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve
And I have always buried them deep beneath the ground.
Dig them up; let’s finish what we’ve started.
Dig them up, so nothing’s left untouched.

All of your flaws and all of my flaws,
When they have been exhumed
We’ll see that we need them to be who we are
Without them we’d be doomed.

There’s a hole in my soul.
I can’t fill it, I can’t fill it.
There’s a hole in my soul.
Can you fill it? Can you fill it?

You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve
And I have always buried them deep beneath the ground.
Dig them up; let’s finish what we’ve started.
Dig them up, so nothing’s left untouched.

Ooh
Ooh

When all of your flaws
And all of my flaws are counted
When all of your flaws
And all of my flaws are counted

You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve
And I have always buried them deep beneath the ground.
Dig them up. Let’s finish what we’ve started.
Dig them up. So nothing’s left untouched.

Ooh
Ooh

All of your flaws and all of my flaws
Are laid out one by one
Look at the wonderful mess that we made
We pick ourselves undone.

Analysis

“Flaws” tells of two people, one who doesn’t hide her flaws and seems completely comfortable in her own skin, and another who buries his flaws and feels empty.

Let’s examine my favorite parts here.

1.) “When all of your flaws and all of my flaws / Are laid out one by one / The wonderful part of the mess that we made / We pick ourselves undone.”

This stanza puts the two starkly different characters on the same level, both exposed as they bare their flaws to one another. I love how Dan Smith (lead singer and songwriter) calls the “mess” of their flaws “wonderful.” Our flaws may be messy, but they’re deeply personal and they are a part of us. As a writer, I know the best way to develop a character is not through her strengths, but through her flaws. Flaws help us relate to one another and they shape our character as we either embrace or pick them off. When we share our flaws, we expose parts of our souls. When all our flaws are shared, we are “undone,” or untied.

2.) “Ones [flaws] we’ve inherited, ones that we learned / They pass from man to man.”

Our flaws can be hereditary or picked up along the way. Physical “flaws” (birthmarks, disabilities, etc.) and potential genetic flaws (alcoholism, some diseases, etc.) can be “inherited” while personality flaws (bossiness, pride, competitiveness, etc.) and other physical flaws (burns, scars, etc.) are typically “learned.” Either way, flaws only develop from other people.

3.) “There’s a hole in my soul. / I can’t fill it, I can’t fill it. / There’s a hole in my soul. / Can you fill it? Can you fill it?”

The protagonist, who has hidden his flaws, feels empty and can’t seem to fill it himself. He asks the other character who embraces her flaws to fill him up. This stanza is probably why people often interpret the song as romantic, but I don’t think that’s right. There may be romance between the two characters, yes, but that doesn’t make the song romantic. The focus remains on the relationship between people and their flaws, not flawed people.

4.) “You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve / And I have always buried them deep beneath the ground. / Dig them up; let’s finish what we’ve started. / Dig them up, so nothing’s left untouched.”

Here is why the protagonist feels empty; he has buried part of himself away while the other character wears her flaws clearly. I won’t pretend I understand the reference to “what we’ve started,” but I believe he wants to “dig” his flaws up in order to fill the hole in his soul mentioned previously.

5.) “All of your flaws and all of my flaws, / When they have been exhumed / We’ll see that we need them to be who we are / Without them we’d be doomed.”

Ahh, here’s my favorite stanza. When the characters’ flaws “have been exhumed,” or dug up, they’ll see that their flaws are part of themselves. Without our flaws, there’s a “hole in [our] soul.” As I said earlier, our flaws are more defining than our strengths. This is not to say that we are our flaws (wouldn’t that be an ugly world); this means our flaws are the knives that sculpt our personalities.

Last little tidbit about Bastille: do you know where the band’s name comes from? No, they’re not French. Dan named his British band Bastille because his birthday falls on July 14th, the day the French celebrate the overthrow of their monarchy, also known as Bastille day. Speaking of the Bastille day, don’t forget to check back here next week for another Focus on the Lyrics Friday involving a popular singer, the French Revolution, and a far-fetched theory of mine.

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.