First Listen!

When Bill introduced this assignment to us in class I immediately thought of a couple songs that would be super interesting to analyze on a deeper level as protest songs. The two at the top of my list are “Love It If We Made It” by The 1975 and “Agnes” by Glass Animals. While these songs both touch on drastically different topics and have very different sounds, they both stand out to me as protest anthems and make statements that I find compelling.

The song that I think I would prefer to focus on for this project is “Love It If We Made It“, released by The 1975 in 2018. This song has so many layers and components to dig into! The 1975 are known for creating music that touches on social justice issues and takes a stance on the current happenings of the world. This song in particular references a variety of issues, and does so in a very interesting way. I think it is essential to begin understanding this work within a larger context, starting with the album, titled A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. The album title itself is important to the narrative and is making a statement right off the bat, before even listening to the songs.

I think the best way to describe The 1975’s sound is electronic pop rock, and this song is a perfect example of that. Digging into the music of “Love It If We Made It”, I was struck by how repetitive most of the song is, especially with the drums. The song starts off with a “beeping” electronic tone and the background music slowly builds up to an explosive drum entry. Overall, the feel that I get from the music is urgent. The intro and outro both include the “beeping” electronic tone that sounds like it is counting down or up to something. The music also seems to complement and emphasize the lyrics, with the way it cuts out at times and then comes back in. The music during the chorus also changes completely and doesn’t seem to emphasize the words as much, letting your attention drift a bit. But your attention snaps right back when the verses come in again, emphasizing their importance. In terms of lyrics, this song is anything but discreet in the point it is trying to make. Matty Healy (lead singer) takes direct references from popular culture events and people. This includes quotes from Donald Trump, references to a corrupt criminal justice system, climate change, immigration, and war (just to name a few of the topics covered). And then there is the ominous chorus of “I’d love it if we made it”. The lyrics of this song are punctuated by their delivery. Healy seems to be screaming most of the words and his emphasis on certain parts seem to reveal his disgust about the state of our world.

My second option for this project is “Agnes” by Glass Animals, released in 2016. This song isn’t as overt in it’s message as “Love It If We Made It”, but its meaning is just as important to the social narrative about mental health, substance abuse, and suicide. Dave Bayley of Glass Animals wrote the song about a close friend of his that committed suicide, and the song is extremely emotional as it tells the story. I think “Agnes” is incredible because of how beautifully it captures the emotions and complexity of struggling with mental health issues.

The music starts out with synth sounds that are joined by simple piano notes. These sounds repeat and the music builds, getting faster until it eventually breaks and slows down. Listening to it honestly makes me feel like I am spinning. Towards the end it gets louder and more sounds come in, continually building and I feel like my heart rate gets faster, waiting for the drop and then it suddenly slows down and slowly winds out. The music seems to tell its own story about mental health, but is complemented by the lyrics, as they verbally tell the story. It starts out with an emotional appeal, directly addressing the person who is struggling, trying to understand what they are feeling. Details about how they tried to numb their pain and how depression impacted them are told through lines like “you see the sad in everything” and “so low so you keep getting high”. Bayley keeps trying to understand what is going on in their head, saying “guess life is long when soaked in sadness”. The repeating phrases at the end detail how the loss of somebody close to you can effect you. The delivery is essential to this song, as you can practically feel the pain in his voice. When he starts out he sounds like he is almost begging. His voice starts out steady, but gets more anxious as the song goes on. All three elements, combine for an overall effect that is haunting and very impactful.

Additionally, both songs have really incredible music videos that complement the ideas they are putting forth. I could almost do two separate analyses of “Love It If We Made It” , one for the song itself and another one of the video because there is just so much to analyze. The video includes clips of current events and political figures that go along with the lyrics and further the main points of the song. The music video for “Agnes” dives into the way mental illness impacts the life of somebody struggling and how wholly overwhelming it can be.

I am excited to dive deeper into one of these songs as the project continues! I think they are both very compelling in the narratives they put forth, and leave lots of room for analysis and interpretation.