You Belong on the Radio - German Music Charts (3)

I don’t know how I slipped into a weekly (instead of my intended bi-daily one) routine, but that’s what the holidays sometimes do. Anyway, before I linger more and contemplate what to write about, here’s some songs from the German charts again, because that always works.

#1 Robin Schulz (feat. Francesco Yates) – Sugar

It’s almost not worth writing about since these kind of lyrics seem to be everywhere and hard to kill.

She got cherry lips
Angel eyes
She knows exactly how to tantalize
She's out to get you, danger by design
Cold blooded vixen, she don't compromise […]
Before you play with fire, do things twice
And if you get burned, don't be surprised

The sexy dangerous woman is a trope I’m so incredibly tired of. It portrays women (as always) completely from the outside, only judged by appearance and on the other hand portrays men as these helpless victims who just can’t help but be seduced by them. It’s a lazy, stupid way of looking at both sexes and it is passed on and on and on.

#2 Lost Frequencies feat. Janieck Devy – Reality

More than in any other series I’m doing, I can’t stop seeing how conflicted we are in our culture. It’s a constant ongoing theme in popular (and indie) songs and Reality is no exception. It doesn’t really have any clear message but in connection with its title it shows how people in our culture perceive reality – a mess of conflicting ideas we can’t figure out.

Decisions as I go, to anywhere I flow
Sometimes I believe, a time where we should know
I can't fly high, I can't go low
Today I got a million. Tomorrow, I don't know

Decisions that we can’t settle on, no real highs or lows, a future of uncertainty – there is this wide array of opposing feelings and ideas that we can’t get out of. It seems natural to us to feel conflicted.

We're unknown and wrong

This is such an awkward and telling line. Unknown by whom? By others? By ourselves? Definitely wrong, always wrong.

#3 MoTrip So wie du bist

This is kind of a weird song.

Ich bin so, wie ich bin, Gott sei Dank hast du nie kapituliert […]
Um mich über Wasser zu halten, hab ich diese Leute im Taxi kutschiert
Ich hab vieles versucht - Mappen kopiert, Akten sortiert
Auch wenn es nicht zu meinen Aufgaben zählte, hab ich meinem Chef sogar Kaffee serviert
Praktikum da, Praktikum hier
Nur leider hab ich mich bis heut nicht immatrikuliert und dann Mathe studiert
Damit ich Dir besser gefalle, Schatz, hätte ich alles probiert
Sie sagte zu mir:
Lass die andern sich verändern und bleib so wie du bist
Genug von den Normen, fast jeder versucht dich zu formen schon seit der Geburt
Business und Kohle - Fitness und Mode, sind nur ein Teil der Tortur

I am what I am, thank God you never surrendered […]
To keep myself above water, I drove people in a taxi
I tried a lot, copying folders, sorting files
And even if it wasn’t one of my duties, I served coffee for the boss
Internship here and there
But unfortunately I still haven’t enrolled and studied math

To make you like me more I would have tried everything

She said to me:
Let the others change and stay as you are […]
Enough of the norms, almost everyone tries to shape you since your birth
Business and money, fitness and fashion are only part of the torture

Its message is totally fine with me: it asks us to not bend to conformity and staying true to yourself. In a way that is one of the things I’m saying here all the time, but if you spell out like that, it sounds awfully generic and banal. “Stay true to yourself”? Wow, that’s an insight! The problem is that it is one of the things we are told all the time in every children’s movie or inspirational song. How is that possible if our culture then tells us all the time to adapt and to not act out and to be “normal.” Well, it’s how it works with everything in this crazy society, you get a little bit of this to accept doing that. If you really believe that you always “follow your dreams” and “are who you want to be”, then it’s a bit harder to notice how you actually do what you are told and accept compromise after compromise.

Anyway, the song is not that bad and seems somewhat sincere in its approach. I like the allusions to the workplace and trying to impress your boss, so as much as this kind of message seems shallow most of the times, this is almost working for me, because it includes “fitness” and “fashion” as part of an oppressive culture.

#6 Namika – Lieblingsmensch

We follow a very similar pattern here, a love song that actually tells us something about the state of mind of someone living in this culture.

Manchmal fühl ich mich hier falsch, wie ein Segelschiff im All

Sometimes I feel wrong here, like a sailing boat in space

Again we have this idea of feeling „wrong“, out of place, again an almost natural state of mind for anyone in this culture.

Und wird uns der Alltag hier zu grau
Pack ich dich ein, wir sind dann mal raus

And if the routine becomes too gray
I take you with me and we’re gone 

Also nothing new, the idea of escaping everything because it’s much easier than changing or even trying to figure out what’s wrong.

Hallo Lieblingsmensch, ein Riesenkompliment
Dafür das du mich so gut kennst
Bei dir kann ich ich sein, verträumt und verrückt sein

Hello favorite person, a big compliment
For knowing me so well
Bei dir kann ich ich sein, verträumt und verrückt sein

“Crazy” is something every second teenager justifies herself to be, almost being proud of it. It has become this attribute for being “special”, but again it is used by so many people that it really isn’t anymore. But it still signifies a desire to break out of the mold everyone tries to put you in and what we’ve been provided with is a role of being “crazy” so that even that is “normal.” Also, again, the idea of being “yourself” as something exceptional that you can only be with the right person. What does it say about our culture that telling someone “with you I can really be myself” is considered romantic and special, because we don’t even blink anymore at adjusting to other people’s standards. We sometimes learn it from our parents, then from teachers and eventually at our workplace. So being “ourselves” becomes the escape instead of normality.

#8 Ed Sheeran – Photograph

Although Ed Sheeran constantly has about four songs in the charts for more than a year now, I never wrote anything about one of his songs, mostly because none of the lyrics gave me anything to write about.

You know it can get hard sometimes
It is the only thing that makes us feel alive.

Loving can heal
Loving can mend your soul

Here we go again: not feeling alive is normal, a broken soul is normal, the need for healing is normal. Those are things we take as given in this culture but we still wonder about people shooting each other, dysfunctional families and depressed movie stars. Telling ourselves that “love will change anything” seems very tempting, but it also sets us up for a long line of disappointment because even if you find “the right one” or someone close to it, it won’t necessarily solve all of the problems.

#10 One Direction – Drag Me Down

Finally, another love song that originates from a dark, desperate place.

And, baby, you're a boat
Baby, you're my only reason
If I didn't have you, there would be nothing left
The shell of a man who could never be his best

If I didn't have you, I'd never see the sun
You taught me how to be someone

Look, I’m (again) not saying that love is not good or that you can’t find the right person. But it fascinates me endlessly that all these songs always assume that our natural state is being incomplete, empty and desolate. We don’t just find someone and enjoy the connection, we need someone because we are so utterly flawed. It’s this logic of an equation, of all us running around to find the other ½s to get to a nice 1. It is great to be in love and to feel understood, but if we’re not looking for the reason why we feel incomplete without it, we can never be truly happy. Also, we load our relationships with too much expectation so that it’s no wonder so many of them fail. Finding someone you can enjoy your time with is one thing, but finding someone who rescues you, who solves everything that this culture screwed up is an impossible task. Can it help to get out of our culture’s trap? Definitely. But it’s not the easy answer everyone tells us it is. If you don’t start asking questions and finding answers for yourself, you’ll just get dragged down together.