Watch the video: https://youtu.be/zABLecsR5UE
This is the first modern song, that wasn’t a Holliday song, I had heard before. I can tell you already that it is not an amazing or great song by any means.
Lewis Capaldi is a second cousin once removed from British actor, and Dr Who alum, Peter Capaldi (thanks Wikipedia for knowing that). Lewis has been blowing up across the pond, and this is his first song to break over into our market.
The best way to describe the song is as an Ed Sheeran-lite experience. It has all the same ideas and themes with none of the interesting wordplay, visual storytelling, or vocals needed to pull it off.
The song begins with a piano melody that is simple and unchanging. The vocals come in as Lewis talks about how he is drowning without this person, and needs them to help, but really just to numb the pain he is in. Mixing metaphors from drowning to numbing is weird and kind of hackney.
He transitions to the chorus where he says how that as day becomes night he feels lost and like the rug with pulled out from under him because he was used to being the person she loved. This is his big, boisterous declaration and where is voice causes a problem.
I don’t want to insult the man and say that I could sing better. I can’t, and I am recovering from a sinus infection so I have no voice now, but Lewis Capaldi sounds rough. The best description is if a hound dog learned how to sing in human. It’s that same rough, unaltered, loose note structured. This all reaches its apex when he has to give a big declaration of love and loss and I can only hear my own dogs howling. It is not good, but I think has a secret as to why it works, and why it has been in the Top 10 of the Hot 100 for so long.
Going from the chorus we get his second verse. He repeats a lot of his first verse. The only change comes at the end where he admits that she helped him escape. The metaphor isn’t as mixed because you can escape water, but that doesn’t make it less cliche, and structured weird. Breakups, in my opinion go from they save you to they help the numbing pain. Not the other way around. It would also show a more destructive tendency in the writing that would explain why they broke up because we didn’t get receive anything about their relationship in this song.
After that we get the chorus again, a bridge where Lewis says that being in their arms was safe. Those lines are fine compared to the rest of the song. Nothing original, but reinforces the theme. The song ends with repeating the chorus, and reiterating that he felt like the rug was pulled out from under him.
There are two videos for this song. One features his more famous cousin, Peter is in. That’s not the main one so I’ll look at the second, more standard one where we see Lewis Capaldi right after his girlfriend (she’s quite pretty, just as a side note. The video doesn’t hold my attention well I latch onto her looks) breaks up with him. Someone helps him get up and walking away, but he tries to go back to her. Random citizens have to try and keep him away from her and push him away from her. It is revealed that no one was there to hold him back, and he was just scream singing to his ex girlfriend from across the street. She turns and walks away from him and the video ends.
This video works for the song. It sets the tone for the song, looks nice, and make that terrible scream singing make diegetic (look at me going to my music and film class vocabulary) to what is going on. It also uses the bystanders well by having them ebb and flow like a tide with the volume of Lewis’s scream singing. It is also not real memorable like the song itself. Again, fits really well.
I would not say this is a good song by any means. The vocals are rough, the song is repetitive lyrically and in the medley, and it is just cliche. Those are not positive properties to have, but I understand why they made this song popular. For all my complaining, the song is easy to listen to on repeat as I do. Similarly to Memories by Maroon 5 it sounds like what we think music should be. You tune into the song. It’s got a traceable melody and cord progression, it uses a normal instrument, someone is singing, and it kind of sounds like it’s got emotions and is about something. You can tune in every couple seconds and confirm you’re listening to something. The song being three minutes helps. It is not a slog to get through, and loops well.
Something I often look over, but is a big factor is that pop music is for the new generation. Sure, it’s for everyone, but it’s main target is a new listener, and new listeners who would like this song are probably young. I say this because I feel like I could lob all these criticism at bands from my childhood like Nickleback or 3 Doors Down. I would say many of their songs have the same problem, but I still love Kyrptonite and How You Remind Me even for their flaws. I may not love this song, or think it is any good, but it didn’t drive me crazy like Godzilla did with everything going on in that.