Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Found Creepiness

I didn’t really get into New Found Glory as a pre-teen/teenager, like a lot of people I know did. It wasn’t until I met one of my friends, who’s really into NFG, that I started listening to them. Unfortunately, because I’m older and really critical of most media at this point in my life, that means that I constantly analyze songs when I hear them.

I only have thirteen NFG songs on my iPod, but I downloaded them because I liked the music. However, a few songs have caught my attention for their lyrics.

Let’s take a look at their song “Oxygen,” which happens to be one of my favorite songs by NFG.

On its surface, the song seems to be one of those cute “my love for you keeps me alive” songs, but the more I listened to this song (which was quite a lot for a time), the more it sounded a bit more like a possibly inappropriate fixation on an unsuspecting woman.

First example lyrics:

I’ll take a glance while you sleep at night
Right from under your nose

Throughout this whole song, I couldn’t quite make up my mind if this was about a girlfriend, or just some girl that was being admired from afar, which made me wonder how they expected to see her sleeping. Because of the lack of clarity, the whole “I’m going to watch you while you’re sleeping” thing is not right, especially because they only say they’re going to “take a glance,” as if they know it’s not right.

Second example lyrics (chorus):

Don’t leave, don’t leave me here
I can’t breathe without you
Don’t leave, don’t leave me here
I don’t want to be without you
I don’t want to live without you

Maybe I’m picky, but I don’t find these sorts of lyrics romantic at all. They come off as obsessive, in a whiny sort of way. These lyrics aren’t asking this woman to stay, they’re telling her not to leave because the guy can’t handle it if she were to leave. Makes me wonder what he would do if she did leave?

Third example lyrics:

I’ll dream of you while I sleep at night
So nobody will know

So nobody will know what? All the creepy, not romantic things you want to do to/with her? I’ll take it you’re not dating if you have to keep everything about her a secret. Then that whole watching-her-while-she’s-sleeping bit is extra scary.

The next NFG song I want to look at is “Hold My Hand.” Sounds innocent enough, right?

The most unsettling lyrics:

Do do do do do do do do
You’ll never know,

I’m after you
Do do do do do do do do
You’ll never know

Do do do do do do do do, no matter how catchy these lyrics try to be, they strike a bad chord. These were probably the worst lyrics I came across in my small collection of NFG songs because they are pretty blatant in their description of being after a woman without her knowledge. That sounds a lot like stalking to me, and that’s not romantic or cute or acceptable in any way.

Okay, clearly I have overanalyzed these songs. Or have I? They both made me feel uncomfortable after only two or three listens, so that means something about these lyrics isn’t right. These are supposed to be like love songs, but they come off as obsessive in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable about the possible outcomes of such feelings or blatantly like something that should be more like a warning to whoever the song was written about than an attempt to describe love. Not to mention the whole hush-hush feeling that indicates that whatever the song is about is something that shouldn’t really be talked about, which generally indicates that it is probably wrong.

Is there a larger trend like this in New Found Glory songs, or have I just happened across a few of the worst examples? Any NFG fans out there want to offer their opinions about why these songs were written like this? Please leave comments.


BenYitzhak said...

I thought that was a common trend with all love songs. Either it's creepy or it's not really love. There are obviously exceptions, but moderate emotions don't seem to have a lot of coverage in music.

I've never heard a song "You seem pretty cool and I'd like to get to know you better", but there are plenty of love at first sight.

Amelia said...

I would agree that it takes a certain kind of love to prompt someone to write a love song, and that you're correct about moderate emotions not making the cut in music.

However, when you're writing about someone who is like oxygen to you, I would expect you could give some reasons as to why that's true. This particular New Found Glory song (Oxygen - since I'm assuming my critique of that song is what you're responding to, correct me if I'm wrong) doesn't go into detail about why this woman is like "oxygen," it just states that she is, and tells her not to leave because "I can't breathe without you."

That's what makes it creepy. Not the fact that those feelings are present, but that they seem to have no foundation because the band couldn't be asked to include any reasons in their song. That's where the creepiness stems from for me.

Anonymous said...

I think New Found Glory, with typical punk fauxgressive style, make lyrics that are deliberately "edgy" or "creepy" - a trend that I think started with The Police (although I could point to examples from the Beatles as well, I'm not sure if they did it on purpose or not) - famously, "I'll Be Watching You". I think a lot of the creepy/edgy lyrics of modern punk bands are actually very unexamined, so they don't seem aware of exactly why they're so creepy, they just know that they are - a wiser lyricist might include a bit more examination and a progressive/feminist message about why some things are Not Okay.

Lauren O said...

This may be my disdain for New Found Glory talking, but it seems to me like the first one is probably sexist because it's really poorly constructed and relies too heavily on cliché. Is it supposed to be a sincere and unproblematic declaration of love? Is it supposed to get into the mindset of a stalker a la "Every Breath You Take"? I would be willing to bet the band members haven't even thought about it. They're just pulling out lines that they've heard in other songs and taping them together. It probably doesn't ring an alarm in their head because the idea of the cute stalker who proves his love by not taking "no" for an answer is so widespread, thanks to movies and TV shows and other songs that also lift misogynistic tropes from other media without stopping to analyze them.

...Sorry for dissing a band that you are getting into. =/

Amelia said...

@ Lauren O:

Your criticisms are well taken. That's an interesting way to think of these songs. I almost wish I could talk to them because it is largely speculation about how they write their songs and what they think of them.

And don't be sorry! This band clearly isn't above my own criticisms, and to be honest, I only really like them for sentimental reasons, because they remind me of my good friend who is really into them.