I love listening—really listening—to the lyrics of songs we hear every day. The music that is currently popular both says a lot to our generation, and about our generation.
One group that has had a big impact on the music scene this year is the band “Fun.” Their anthem “We Are Young” reached #1 on the Billboard charts for six straight weeks earlier this year, setting sales records in the process. The rousing chorus sounds like an inspirational call to action:
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun
If you listen to just the chorus, you might think that the song is going to go on to say something great, like we want to go out and make a difference. We are the new generation, so let’s go out and change all that is wrong about this place. Let’s start a revolution.
But then you listen to the rest of the song, and realize that they are talking about an evening at the bar getting drunk and high. Their version of “burn[ing] brighter than the sun” is to get so completely wasted that someone has to “carry you home.”
I don’t think that Fun is trying to make any particular point with that song; they are just being honest. And they get even more honest on their second big hit, “Some Nights,” which is also the title of their current album. The chorus on this one almost resembles a gospel choir, especially when they reference The Lord. But the lyrics are borderline depressing:
Oh Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights, I don't know
That seems to be the biggest theme of Some Nights, both the song and the album: being lost, with no purpose in life, seeking life in temporary pleasures and finding no lasting joy in it.
So this is it? I sold my soul for this?
Washed my hands of that for this?
Well, that is it guys, that is all - five minutes in and I'm bored again
Ten years of this, I'm not sure if anybody understands
And that's alright; I found a martyr in my bed tonight
She stops my bones from wondering just who I am, who I am, who I am
Oh, who am I?
Oh, well that’s nice. A woman he “found” in his bed becomes a martyr for the purpose of taking his mind off his problems for one night.
And how familiar does this sound?
My heart is breaking for my sister and the con that she called "love"
When I look into my nephew's eyes...
Man, you wouldn't believe the most amazing things that can come from...
Some terrible lies
So he is pro-life, apparently.
And that is all from the song “Some Nights”; I could go on and on with the other songs on the Some Nights album. The most optimistic-sounding title, “It Gets Better,” is actually about losing one’s virginity, and starts with the repeated line:
What have we done, oh my God
What have we done, oh my God
The song “All Alright” explains how things are not at all alright:
Yeah it's all alright
I guess it's all alright
I got nothing left inside of my chest,
But it's all alright
Obviously fame, drinking, drugs, dating, and sex have not made the creators of Some Nights happy or brought them satisfaction. The same can be said for this generation as a whole: though they focus on finding meaning in concentrated “fun” and freedom from rules, millenials have a higher rate of depression than any other generation.
The singer realizes that this life is not working out for him, but repeatedly talks about carrying on, somewhat blindly, because no one is going to save him. From “Stars”:
Oh, and you
You're always holding on to stars
I think they're better from afar
Because no one is gonna save us
Oh, and me
I have faded in the dark
So don't you ever kiss me
Don't you wish on me
Why can't you see that no one's gonna save us?
The thing is, there is One who really can save people from such a meaningless, temporary life. The real problem is not that they don’t know where to look, but that they are unwilling to do so. Take the lyrics from “Some Nights (Intro),” which is the first track on the album and serves as a lead-in to the title song:
There are some nights I wait for someone to save us
But I never look inward, try not to look upward
“Never look inward, try not to look upward.” To me, that sounds like a really good recipe for a wasted life.
And some nights I pray a sign is gonna come to me
But usually, I'm just trying to get some sleep
“Fun”? Not so fun.