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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Analysis of Demi Lovato's "Heart Attack"

This damn song has been in my head for days, so I figured I'd take a tip from "Todd in the Shadows" and look at what the hell is up with this song.

I think the world must have a "So-bad-it's-good" relationship with the music world. Or a "We Love Stupid" relationship. But there are so many bad, horrible songs out there. Jason DeRulo's "Talk Dirty to Me", Black Eyed Peas's "My Humps", Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe", Britney Spears's "Toxic", "Gorilla" by Bruno Mars, anything by Katy Perry or Ke$ha. Songs that plummet past the pit of "low quality" into "this shit is ridiculous". Some people are even trying to force virality, like "#selfie" is trying to replicate the success of "Gangnam Style" with obnoxious lyrics coupled with EDM.


"Heart Attack" is like that, and it comes from a similar source -- a Disney pop princess who's trying to seem "more adult". She's a cross between Kelly Clarkson and Miley Cyrus. The song is so damn catchy, but I have no idea what it's trying to say.

Some overnotes first. With all the diva pop vocalizing and voice manipulation, this sounds like a Christina Aguilera song. It suffers from the same over-production and auto-tuned synth vocals meant to appeal to tweens. That makes it like a car wreck: hideous, but unable to look away from.

Second, what is with the black goo? She starts with black paint or oil on her hands. Throughout the video it drips down behind her, and as she writhes and caresses herself out of passion, her face becomes painted with it. Why is she covered in black goo? Is that oil? Is that her "good self" trying to break through? Why is the good side black? Is this a mud wrestling thing? Like the "Dirrty" and "I'm a Slave 4 U" videos? Maybe she's becoming an alien? She certainly looks inhuman.

Puttin' my defenses up
'Cause I don’t wanna fall in love
If I ever did that
I think I’d have a heart attack
First, I think "heart attack" is a rather poor choice of words. She's talking about the number one killer of humans. I bet all you out there know at least one person, family member or friend, who died of a heart related disease. And she's using it as a trite metaphor for your infatuation. Risk touching some nerves on that one.

The phrase "putting my defenses up" is repeated through the song. But it never says why. Why doesn't she want to fall in love? Did she have some love trouble last time? Is she one of those girls that falls for bad boys? Or if she was spurned by a boy. Or if she's just always been independent. Or if she's bi-curious.
Never put my love out on the line
Never said "Yes" to the right guy
Never had trouble getting what I want
But when it comes to you, I'm never good enough
This song is just like "Miss Independent". Again, I have no idea why she never said "yes"

The last two lines aren't even related. "Getting what I want" makes it sound like she wants the guy, but "when it comes to you, I'm never good enough" implies that she doesn't.

Actually, I'm not sure what it implies. Does she think she's not good enough for the boy? Or the boy is too good for her? The first implies an inconsistent self-image with the rest of the song. The second means she has self-esteem issues. Who is this guy who's so up there it's making her lower her inflated opinion of herself.
When I don’t care
I can play ‘em like a Ken doll
Ew. And don't you know that Ken dolls have no parts "down there"? Does that mean she teases them sexually? This is not endearing me to your situation.
Won’t wash my hair
Then make 'em bounce like a basketball
First, isn't leaving the hair unwashed a move in hairstyling some times? Second, is this meant to drive off a guy? Wouldn't that be the effect on everyone? I'd think it would repel more girls than guys. I don't think it would have much effect on boys. Some of them don't mind a nasty girl. (Maybe this is where the black oil is coming from.)



I may not be up on the "lingo", but I guess making them "bounce" means either she's leaving the boys or the boys are leaving her. "Call Me Maybe" had a more sympathetic character *.
But you make me wanna act like a girl
Paint my nails and wear high heels
Yes, you make me so nervous
That I just can’t hold your hand
This is a girl who doesn't wash her hair, and she's having trouble holding a guy's hand? And women don't paint their nails and wear high heels for men. No guy cares about a woman's hands. They don't even notice that kind of thing, unless they're like those Lee Press-On nails, which is simply a danger response.


And high heels make you walk funny. They wear them for other women. It's a decorating competition thing, and I don't understand it, but I know about it. Plus, who the hell wears heels in high school? I'm assuming that's their target demo.
You make me glow
But I cover up
Won’t let it show
Does she have radiation poisoning?


All kidding aside, I actually like this line. I identify with this sensation, and needing to hide it. But it's not like a crush thing. It's a "can't show weakness" thing. The girl's already in a position of strength. She's reaching down to him, not up. Is this another girl power fantasy?
So I'm puttin' my defenses up
'Cause I don't wanna fall in love
If I ever did that
I think I'd have a heart attack
I think I'd have a heart attack
I think I'd have a heart attack

Never break a sweat for the other guys
When you come around, I get paralyzed
Good to know you give 110% in relationships. That'll help when/if you get married in the future. I'd love to know why other guys provide no pressure on her.
And every time I try to be myself
It comes out wrong like a cry for help
I have a feeling your "self" may just not be worth hanging around. I know this from experience: acting like a bitch is not seen as a cry for help. It's a signal to get away. No one wants to associate with someone who treats other guys like shit. You know what guys do in that situation? They find someone who won't. The onus of tradition is on guys to find a girl, not the other way around. Is that what's happening here? She's having so many guys try and date her, she doesn't care about them at all? Except this one guy who she may or may not be dating? Guys do not like a project. At least not one that's more trouble than it's worth.
It's just not fair
Pain's more trouble than love is worth
I gasp for air
It feels so good, but you know it hurts
You have a very screwed up nervous system. You're just at the holding hands phase and you can't even seem to get past that. What pain?
But you make me wanna act like a girl
Paint my nails and wear perfume for you
Make me so nervous
That I just can’t hold your hand
Now we're wearing perfume. That's probably a good idea since you don't wash your hair.
You make me glow,
But I cover up
Won't let it show,
So I’m puttin' my defenses up
'Cause I don't wanna fall in love
If I ever did that
I think I'd have a heart attack
I think I'd have a heart attack
I think I'd have a heart attack

The feelings got lost in my lungs
They're burning, I'd rather be numb
And there's no one else to blame (no one else)
So scared I take off and I run
I'm flying too close to the sun
And I burst into flames
If there's a guy who's making you feel like this, one who you'd rather feeling nothing at all than be around, you should probably get away from him. This may be an abusive relationship. You went from cold-hearted to feeling everything at once. Are you Elsa? You did sing the Frozen single.
You make me glow,
But I cover up
Won't let it show,
So I’m puttin' my defenses up
'Cause I don't wanna fall in love
If I ever did that
I think I'd have a heart attack
I think I'd have a heart attack
I think I'd have a heart attack
I think I'd have a heart attack
I think I'd have a heart attack
So you are so heartless that if you ever did find something you loved more than yourself and your sense of independence (or ego or invulnerability), you think your heart would rupture a valve or stop or burst. Seems a little much. I know most songs are more passionate and extreme than real life. But this feels over the line.

* You know why "Call Me Maybe" was so successful? Because it included fantasies for both the girl and the guy. For the girl, the fantasy was that she would be assertive enough to give a guy who she just met her phone number. Even in this age, girls still have trouble being as forward as boys. For guys, the idea that this girl, out of all the other boys chasing her, chose him.
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