Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Musing: "Because of You"

Yep, the song by Kelly Clarkson. You may want to listen to at least the beginning before reading this blog post, it'll make more sense.

Both my mom and I have a certain amount of dislike for this song--though mine is less "Turn that OFF" than hers is, and I do enjoy it sometimes. I think I figured out why. Kelly Clarkson sings it like it's sad, and depressive, and a complete mope of a song.

It's not.

Okay, yes, this requires Death of the Author thinking, but that's just not how it reads to me. Especially when you factor in that she swears in the middle. Swearing means A) not thinking about the words (BAD) B) angry or C) completely broken down, which isn't how she plays it either. She doesn't seem like she's crying, she doesn't seem like she's so broken she can't even express her feelings anymore, she just feels like...she wanted to swear there.

The line I'm referring to:
And now I cry in the middle of the night for the same damn things!
As something of an experiment, I tried singing it angry. First of all, it was easy. It seemed the natural way to sing the song. Second, yep, my mom felt it sounded better.

I think it's because otherwise, the song feels manipulative. An actor doesn't just say, "I'm broken," because there aren't very many realistic characters who would. The part to play is avoiding eye contact, wincing, leaping into or out of danger because everything is off-kilter.

And so yes, the song should have moments where the singer collapses. But they should be moments, not the majority of the song.

In addition, the whole thing falls under telling. "Because of you I am afraid." ...Lovely. And I suppose you're going to tell us some of the story...dude cried in the other room. Um. Anything...anything else you want to share? About this giant, life-shattering experience you decided to share with millions in song?

...Just gonna say you're heart's shattered and you stay on the safe side of everything. Well, it's lovely you were able to share all--

Oh. Wow. Actually, that's pretty clever if it's two characters deep. Take it, not as playing the hurt girl who's thinking this to herself, but the artist writing this song. She wants to share more, but she can't. She can bring herself to tell how hurt she is, but not really what happened. Because it was life-shattering.

And that may not make sense with Kelly Clarkson--her other music and the mere fact that she is where she is suggest some level of bravery--but it does make sense as a character who is a songwriter played by a songwriter.

This is why I muse.

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