Song #1: “Million Dollar Loan” by Death Cab for Cutie 


Description: The song “Million Dollar Loan” by Death Cab for Cutie was released in 2016 in response to Trump’s campaign, where he has been known for continuously promoting the notion of being “self-made”, in aims to highlight his dishonesty and inappropriate fit as president. The song is the first track released as part of the “30 Days, 30 Songs” campaign where a collection of artists write songs protesting Trump as a Presidential candidate. Essentially, the track is a diss on Trump’s administration and role in the political setting. 

Music/Sound: The music itself is very disheveled and hard to follow. The sporadic beat of the drums alludes to a completely different rhythm than what’s played by the synthesizer in the front. The music sounds like two different parts overlapping one another, working against each other rather than together. The contrast between the layers of music embodies the contrast between Trump’s words and his actions/the truth. Your mind wants to get a hold of the rhythm of the music as it’s listening but struggles as the sound is seemingly deceptive and unpredictable. Ultimately, the lack of harmony in the sounds creates tension in the track. 

Lyrics: Lyrically, the song is very direct and easy to interpret it’s subject and message.

  • The first few lines in the song reference Trump as it alludes to a description of the Trump tower
    • From a great height / He’s looking down on his city at night / From gilded room / Of gold, marble, and soft perfume” 
  • The next few lines in the first verse transition into the heart of the song’s meaning, taking a dig at Trump’s infamous claim to being “self-made” and only receiving a “small loan” from his father. The lyrics also allude to the notion that Trump’s only received as much attention and success in life due to his wealth and ability to buy good fortune. 
    • And he’s proud to say / He built his fortune the old fashioned way / Because to succeed / There’s only one thing you really need
  • The chorus mocks Trump’s success as he references the “small loan” of a million dollars his father gave him that ultimately lead to the rest of his success in the business world. The emphasis on privilege being a contributor to success in life also touches on the prominent social inequality issues surfacing in American culture. 
    • A million dollar loan / Nobody makes it on their own / Without a million dollar loan / You’ll reap what you’ve sown / From a million dollar loan / Call your father on the phone / And get that million dollar loan
  • The bridge paints a scenario that holds to be a powerful metaphor for the lack of impact or desire Trump’s administration has for solving the real problems of our country.
    • A siren screams / Through the city as he falls asleep / The campaign / Begins again at the break of day

Vocal delivery: The verses are sung in two different keys simultaneously, one pretty high-pitched and one substantially lower. This split creates an interesting relationship between the two sounds. The notes of the verses and chorus aren’t very soothing or easy to listen to; it’s a little deranged sounding even. Gibbard’s delivery is very soft and monotonous. 

Overall: The ease of his voice in contrast to the intensity of the lyrics and incohesive music reminds me of a parody song, which is basically what the track is. It’s got a relatively catchy chorus, inviting listeners to sing along. The incohesiveness of the song adds texture to the underlying message about Trump’s misleading campaign. 


Song #2: “everything i wanted” by Billie Eilish 


Description: Billie Eilish has become one of the few popular artists of the time openly discussing the struggle and rawness of mental health issues. In “everything i wanted” she recounts a dream about committing suicide and how the relationship with her brother provided support for her during those times. 

Music: The music to this song is very unique sounding. Piano is the primary instrument used throughout the track adding a sincerity and delicateness. The piano is slightly muffled and sounds soft alluding to the notion of a dream. An upbeat tempo comes into the song within the first verse that continues pretty steadily throughout. The upbeat tempo on top of the piano conveys to me the idea of carrying the message of the dream around on a day-to-day basis. The upbeat tempo makes me think of the tempo of life and being busy. Synthesizers are used very subtly in the background during the chorus that adds a feeling of drama and fullness to it. 

Lyrics:  The lyrics of this song tell a story.

  •  She starts off by describing a dream she’s had. The first two lines make you believe she’s describing a good dream, but then she leans into her reality as she describes something concerning and horrifying as being what she truly desires. 
    • I had a dream / I got everything I wanted / Not what you’d think / And if I’m bein’ honest / It might’ve been a nightmare / To anyone who might care
  • The most powerful lines in the song follow describing her imagining jumping off of the Golden Gate Bridge and committing suicide. She goes on to elaborate on the feeling of being invisible and neglected. 
    •  “Thought I could fly (Fly) / So I stepped off the Golden, mm / Nobody cried (Cried, cried, cried, cried) / Nobody even noticed / I saw them standing right there / Kinda thought they might care (Might care, might care)
  • A pivotal moment for the song’s message is the chorus where a second voice responds to the dream with comforting words looking to boost her confidence/self-esteem – making the chorus centralized around this uplifting dialogue not only reflects her relationship with her brother but also instills a sense of hope or influence to reflect on those in your own circle that view you in a light way better than how you view yourself. 
    • And you say, “As long as I’m here, no one can hurt you / Don’t wanna lie here, but you can learn to / If I could change the way that you see yourself / You wouldn’t wonder why you hear / ‘They don’t deserve you’

Vocal delivery: Eilish’s voice is very soft and smooth throughout the song. Throughout the verses and pre-chorus, she sings in such a hushed and intimate volume that it feels like shes whispering or hesitant to say what she’s saying. The notes are cut short raspy until the chorus where she uses a lot of smooth long notes. She maintains that hushed volume to her voice throughout the song creating a delicate, lullaby feel to her voice. 

Overall: The narrative in the song includes the light and darkness that comes with mental health issues; the revealing of loving bonds and the demons that convince you that doesn’t exist. The delicacy of the song correlates to the sensitivity of the thoughts she brings up and transforms a subject very serious and accompanies it with a beautiful, lofty sound that makes such a difficult topic pleasant to listen about.