Melodies of meaning: exploring deep storytelling in pop hits
If you've tuned into AJR's latest hits, "The Maybe Man" and "The Hole in the Bottom of my Brain," you might have gotten caught up in the catchy melodies and vibrant rhythms. But beneath the surface of these infectious tunes lie two profound narrative concepts: inequity and justification. It's fascinating how these songs, perhaps unwittingly, delve into these themes, offering a rich exploration for fans and narrative enthusiasts alike.
Inequity, in storytelling, refers to an imbalance or unfairness that drives a character's journey. In "The Maybe Man," AJR seems to tap into this narrative vein almost instinctively. The song captures the essence of a character wrestling with life's inconsistencies and desires.
The juxtaposition of desires and longings within different verses embody the narrative concept of inequityL
Wish I was a stone so I couldn't feel
You'd yell in my face, it'd be no big deal
But I'd miss the way we make up and smile
Don't wanna be stone, I changed my mind
This character's journey through various wishes and desires, only to realize the complexities and potential downsides of each, mirrors the narrative theme of imbalance and the human struggle to find equilibrium in life's unpredictabilities.
In some other life, I would be rich
I'd travel in style, I'd cover the bill
But couldn't complain 'bout anything small
Nobody'd feel bad for me at all
This same inequity between desires and abilities permeates conflict throughout a functional narrative.
Justification, on the other hand, deals with the layering of reasoning and rationalization behind a character's actions or beliefs. In "The Hole in the Bottom of my Brain," AJR delves into this complex narrative concept through their lyrics and music.
There's a hole in the bottom of my brain
But when I party, the hole goes away
But the party I throw needs a picture to post
So the world knows the party was great
As the song continues, the narrator/singer continues to pile justification on top of justification until, just like a story, it begins to unwind those justifications back to the beginning:
There's a hole in the bottom of your brain
When you get famous, the hole goes away
Now, there's coke on the nose of a bro I don't know
In a show, we'll wear clothes that were fancily sewn
In a town that I loathe on a coast that gets stoked on the thing made of gold
In a home that I own from a song that I wrote
About 'like's and 'hello's on a post on my phone of a party I throw
But I know I'm alone, yeah, I know I'm alone
In the hole in the bottom of my brain
The song becomes a journey through the character's mind--which is exactly what the Storymind concept behind Subtxt and Dramatica theory is all about: the author projects a "mind" for the audience to inhabit and experience both inequity and justification in order to better appreciate our own lives.
What makes AJR's approach to these themes so intriguing is the seemingly unconscious way they weave them into their music. The band might not explicitly set out to explore inequity and justification, yet these concepts are deeply embedded in their songs. This organic integration speaks to the universality of these narrative themes and how they resonate across different mediums, from literature to music.
It also just so happens to be a great way to experience these concepts in a different context.
For fans of AJR and storytelling enthusiasts, there's an added layer of enjoyment in dissecting these themes. Platforms like Subtxt can be instrumental in this exploration, offering tools and insights to delve deeper into the narrative concepts at play. It's a chance to connect with the music on a more profound level, understanding the underlying stories that drive these captivating songs.
AJR's "The Maybe Man" and "The Hole in the Bottom of my Brain" serve as inadvertent masterclasses in the narrative concepts of inequity and justification. These themes, woven seamlessly into the fabric of the songs, enhance their appeal and depth. As we groove to the beats of AJR, there's an opportunity to appreciate the storytelling at play, reminding us that narrative is all around us, in every note and lyric.
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