Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Song Analysis: Hilary Duff - "So Yesterday"

I urge everybody to check out "Take a Walk" by Sara Paxton, currently linked in my sidebar, if you don't know it already.

In some ways, "So Yesterday" is a pretty important song in my musical autobiography, and I liked it at the time for very specific reasons I'll get into below. Before I get into it, really briefly on American Idol (I'll post a full update on my thoughts in another week or 2 once the chaff [Paul Kim] is gone and we've seen a few more performances).

The guys: Liked Blake, Chris Sligh and Brandon Rogers were OK but kinda boring, didn't really care for any of the others. One of the weakest AI shows I've ever seen. Sanjaya has the least stage performance I've ever seen in an American Idol contestant, it truly is stunning. Let's see if his cuteness carries him through. Favorites: Blake; Voted For: Nobody; Would Like to See Go Home: Sundance and Paul Kim

The girls: Wow, way better than the guys. But extremely retro. I generally have liked the more current voices among American Idol contestants, but the group is just so talented. Agreed with the judges for the most part: Lakisha, Melinda, Jordin, and Steph all very good. I thought the judges went a bit overboard in their Lakisha praise. My problem with Lakisha is that I don't like that song and I still have a lot of trouble emotionally connecting with that type of singing. Only counterexamples I can think of are Mariah and "I Will Always Love You" (not even Aretha, really). In any event, I liked Melinda better. I liked Gina a lot, though she was a little off pitch. Antonella was awful, I've done a complete 180 on her. I really, really like Leslie Hunt, even though her performance wasn't the best; I love her for real crazy personality. She's not the best performer, but it's good to see some vocal restraint UITP, I like her smoky voice a lot, and she's the most entertaining remaining contestant, to me at least. Favorites: Melinda, Jordin, Leslie, Gina; Voted For: Leslie (I felt like she needed my help); Want to See Go Home: Antonella, Nicole

That went on a little longer than intended, here's the main content:

You can change your life (if you wanna)
You can change your clothes (if you wanna)
If you change your mind
Well that's the way it goes
But I am gonna keep your jeans
and your old black hat (cause I wanna)
They look good on me
You're never gonna get them back

At least not today, not today, not today

If it's over let it go and
Come tomorrow it will seem
So yesterday, so yesterday
I'm just a bird that's already flown away
Laugh it off and let it go and
when you wake up it will seem
So yesterday, so yesterday
Haven't you heard that I'm gonna be OK

You can say you're bored (if you wanna)
You can act real tough (if you wanna)
You can say you're torn
But I've heard enough
Thank you, you made my mind up for me
When you started to ignore me
Will you see a single tear?
It isn't gonna happen here.

At least not today, not today, not today


If you're over me I'm already over you
If it's all been done what is left to do
How can you hang up if the line is dead
If you wanna walk I will step ahead
If you're moving on I'm already gone
If the light is off then it isn't on

At least not today, not today, not today


Song Analysis/Comments: Seemingly very simple and straightforward lyrics, that are rather easy to interpret. Which they are. Clearly, her boyfriend isn't paying very much attention to her, so she's decided to pre-emptively break up with him. She's made up her mind and is telling him to go ahead and get over it now. Very Kelly Clarkson-ish, and I actually like the lyrics to this one. Simple, but very effective. Now for story time, and we can see why I chose this song for a song analysis.

This was Hilary Duff's third "Disney single", by my recollection, following "I Can't Wait" and "Why Not". At the time this song came out (2003) I was in college, and I would pretty regularly watch repeats of Even Stevens and Lizzie Mcguire, having largely missed the boat on these shows earlier. And they would show the videos for those songs a whole lot. Remember, Hilary Duff was their first big breakout star, and they were pushing her music career hard. Anyways, I really disliked both songs, as I was very indie at the time. (Still don't like "Why Not", "I Can't Wait" is pretty good). My initial reaction to "So Yesterday" was the same: stupid pop crap. But then, I slowly started to like it. Finally, I had to admit to myself that it was a good song, which horrified me. It was a small but significant step to my curret poptimism/teenpoptimism.

What I loved about the song then, and still love now, and what I want to talk about, is the "At least not today, not today, not today" part. The first verse builds up with very definitive lyrics. We start by noting that he can change whatever he wants and it's not gonna help him get her back. Nosiree, she's made up her mind. Not only that, but she's stealing your stuff too, and you are gonna like it. Very self-assured, harsh lyrics, and Hilary delivers them with the best self-assured sneer she can muster up. Which is kinda cute. The musical tone of the acoustic guitar then lightens up significantly as we get to "At least not today, not today, not today". Ha, this is somebody trying to convince herself she's made up her mind. She knows he's bad for her but can't let go. Interesting to note there's significant overdubbed harmony on this line too, which also softens it up a lot. Makes it sound very vulnerable.

The second verse is even more so. "Will you see a single tear? It isn't gonna happen here." Not even sad! Well, at least not today! What I like about the line at all is that it inserts a nice bit of vulerability in a song into an otherwise straight ahead breakup number. Which, in my opinion at least, makes it more real and allows me to connect with it more. I can really empathize with Hilary here, wanting to do the right thing, and forcing yourself to pretend that you have enough strength to do it. Welling all your strength up into doing the action itself, and leaving none behind for the aftermath.

Many songs seem to just pick one mood and go with it. Like "I'm over you" or "I still love you" or "I wish you loved me" or whatever. But I think it's more real when there's several emotions swimming together in your mind together. Which is why I love "Moodswings" so much, incidentally. Rather than integrate the several moods into the course of the song though, like "Moodswings" or "Hear Me", the song just provides a bit of self doubt as a counterbalance to the anger in the rest of the song. So rather than having wishy-washy "I wanna break up with you because you don't like me much, but I'm not too sure and I still like you and...", they convey each emotion separately, in turn. And that's the kind of crap I love, injecting a whole new layer of meaning on top of a song with just one simple line! Of course, if it's not executed perfectly, that's also the kind of thing that can come back to bite you. But I'd say they convey the vulnerability and woundedness of her rather perfectly with the line.

These days I like a lot more about the song than just that one line, and I'm relatively unashamed to admit my Duff love, but it's still what propels the song into greatness for me.

FINAL RATING: The song has an extremely catchy melody and deceptively deep, complex lyrics. It's not as good as "Come Clean" or "Fly", but it's up there. 9.5/10.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found this blog to be very informative and interesting. Don't listen to that jerk who said that your page was lame.I give it a two thumbs up! Plus,it looks like you put a-lot of work into creating this.(-:

6:17 PM  
Anonymous Lauren said...

I love that you analyzed an old school Duff song. So Yesterday is the teen pop conceptual masterpiece that launched her career. Thanks for reminding me of how great this song was!

Please consider reviewing Dignity! I'd like to know how you like the evolution of her sound. That album's been on my ipod ever since it's release. Definitely her best one yet, IMO.


11:37 PM  

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