Drag Me Down – The Conclusion

We are no strangers of the superstardom stint of everyone’s beloved boyband One Direction. I remember a sudden explosion of fanbase for 1D at my high school where girls and boys – but especially girls – would go gaga over their songs, music videos and the boys themselves. Everybody would have a favorite band member who they would thoroughly know and love as a fan should. An American band creating such an impact in Indian schools clearly point towards its success as an expander of the American culture worldwide. They made groovy and relatable music with flawless lyrics and impeccable music videos – what else does a high schooler need? Probably a lot, but I guess what I’m trying to say is – One Direction’s music had a mass appeal and their songs became sensational hits.

Rising to fame from X-Factor 2010, One Direction was together for almost 5 years before it disintegrated, and the promising members of the band moved ahead in lives envisioning powerful solo careers. This blog post is not about their overall success, but about their last fling together – Drag Me Down which has a single that released after the departure of the band lead – Zayn Malik. People had their doubts about the band surviving after the parting of a crucial member, but all reservations were shattered to pieces when Drag Me Down broke Spotify records, defeating Wiz Khalifa’s See You Again. The song was also the first track ever to hit No. 1 on the Spotify Global Chart on its first day of release. Carrying out a successful single without Malik, the band proved that they are still very capable of producing exceptional music and derive their power from their loyal fans. I feel Drag Me Down was one final goodbye and a heartfelt letter of gratitude for the millions of fans that supported and encouraged One Direction.

The reason why Drag Me Down creates a cultural effect is the fact that they love doing what they do, and their music is likeable, meaningful and fun! Everyone likes a good structure, whether that be of an article, a movie or a song. One Direction does that to their entire tenure – an amazing opening, a splendid journey and a sweet goodbye.

The reason why Drag Me Down creates a cultural effect is the fact that they love doing what they do, and their music is likeable, meaningful and fun! Everyone likes a good structure, whether that be of an article, a movie or a song. One Direction does that to their entire tenure – an amazing opening, a splendid journey and a sweet goodbye. Directioners might express their sorrows over the short life of the band, they certainly couldn’t have asked for a better cheerio.

The single has an overwhelming amount of love, gratitude and enthusiasm. A never-say-die spirit that encourages the youth to keep persuading their dreams despite the major setbacks one receives. In the music video, Harry, Liam, Niall and Louis are seen doing groundbreaking things and being successful at those which I feel is a symbolism for what they are capable of doing with the never-ending love from their fans. Towards the end of the video they are literally seen as taking off – which can be interpreted as launching into new horizons and never stopping. The enthusiasm they generate in their music and video transcends global boundaries. The fact that 1D is still one of the most-streamed boybands on Spotify, with 18,247,928 monthly listeners, even when no new music is made speaks of its global appeal and cultural significance. The gratitude leaks into the lyrics “If I didn’t have you, there would be nothing left; The shell of a man that could never be his best”. That is some excellent poetry right there.

The mutual zeal of the artists and their fandom may also lead to certain parasocial relationships which not only facilitate fans to become increasingly involved in the lives of the artists they follow, but also feel attraction towards them in a way that these artists seem to be the most important humans in their worlds. Now, as you guessed this might have their own pros and cons. One cannot help but wonder whether these parasocial relationships are a boon or a bane; because on one hand, they promote creativity and act as a social glue to bring people together, while on the other hand, may produce maladaptive behavioral patterns where individuals overly obsess over these artists who they don’t know personally. There can be many psychological cons involved as well – such as the fans getting overly involved in their fantasy world to a point where they actually imagine being a part of the artist’s world or feel dejected when they are not getting noticed or when the artist isn’t producing new music. Nonetheless, fans getting hugely attracted and invested in 1D does follow this phenomena.

Good music is played and remembered even when the artist is no longer around, that is one way to make a cultural impact on people around the world. Appealing to the youth is a massive accomplishment and One Direction was successful in doing that. Even though the band isn’t around anymore, there will always be a high schooler who has Steal My Girl on their playlist.

The Jackson Rollercoaster

There are times when you look forward to a hike, plan for it a week in advance, prepare your technology to capture extravagant pictures of the uncontainable nature, and wake up especially early and yet so thrilled about a productive and beautiful day ahead. Well that is a wonderful enthusiasm to have and yet we wonder why that doesn’t happen every so often. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that although the idea of a hike seems immensely pleasurable, the whole experience may not live up to the expectations. You might regret not carrying more water, or suddenly discover new joint pains, decide to discard these pair of ungracious shoes just as you enter your warm home again, or simply start to rethink your hike partner preferences or even your entire social circle. But in the end, at least you got some great nature shots. This might have summed up my experience knowing Michael Jackson.

Earlier on in life, when I would just listen to Bollywood music, my only exposure to the Western World were Miley Cyrus from Hannah Montana, “You Belong with Me” by Taylor Swift, and “Party in the U.S.A” again my Miley Cyrus. My dad would play music from unknown artists and quite honestly, I didn’t think I needed to know more artists than I already did. I was (and am) more of the dancing kind, who just needed any kind of music to start swaying. So anyway, he used to play Bryan Adams, the occasional Backstreet Boys, Elvis Presley, and some Michael Jackson tracks. And when you hear the same tracks quite often, they do register in your subconscious mind. I had a habit of judging the artist based on the music they produced. “Oh – such a warm song with a beautiful message, this man must be a compassionate soul”.

Michael Joseph Jackson, born in Indiana, United States and commonly referred to as the “king of pop” has had significant impact, culturally speaking. He was considered likeable and charming. Not just music, he also garnered great attention to his outstanding dance moves. It became a whole dance genre with people specializing in it till date. His father, Joseph Jackson was a guitarist who also pushed his kids into music. Having debuted with his elder brothers and Jackson 5, it does seem like a warm family group of mutual love and support. Jackson was the lead vocalist at a tender age of 5 and I cannot begin to imagine the pressure that would’ve brought to him. Although they produced some great music like “Never Can Say Goodbye” and “I Want You Back”, I feel it was but natural for Michael Jackson to try music on his own – going solo and trying to make it big. At the age of 13, he found himself carving a solo career for himself.

Jackson’s “Off the Wall” made it to the hearts of the masses with its unique blend of pop and funk which also featured his Grammy Award-winning single “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” along with such hits as “Rock with You,” “She’s Out of My Life” and the title track. In 1985, Jackson showed his altruistic side by co-writing “We Are the World,” a charity single for USA for Africa. When I personally heard this song in I’m-not-sure-which year, I was enthralled by it – and suddenly felt some kind of extremely compassionate spirit within me. The same goes for “Heal the World” which was a part of his eighth studio album, “Dangerous”. Heal the World was completely written and composed by Michael Jackson, though it does seemed like We Are the World 2.0.

“You Are Not Alone” and his duet with sister Janet Jackson “Scream” were also well received by the masses, with Scream almost costing a fortune to make. It did pay off when it was awarded the Grammy for its slick video effects. His song “They Don’t Care About Us,” was what I think was a beginning of the downfall. He was hugely criticized for his prejudices and a discriminatory term he used for Jews. After that, he was slow in producing his own original work and storms of doubts started to flow around him regarding whether he actually sang all of his songs.

Having tasted stardom as early as he could, Jackson suffered from loneliness, brief childhood and a never-ending labyrinth of lights and rehearsals. He became hugely successful, but at what cost? He suffered from humungous amounts of self-esteem issues that it pressured him to actually modify his appearance – not once, not twice, but innumerable times. He went from looking like an adorable little boy to a mannequin you keep your children away from. His whole face looked so horrific that I would not look at it from more than 5 seconds as a child. His numerous surgeries obviously had dreadful side-effects like addiction to drugs and painkillers – which finally killed him. I would see this as an extremely apologetic turn of events that just went from bad to worse, a run to save himself from his own terrible insecurities which ended up in a dog-chasing-his-own-tail situation.

Although Jackson was married to Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley; it was a brief stint adding more to his troubled lifestyle. His second marriage with Debbie did result in three kids – but they had to constantly conceal their identity to not let stardom get to them. These kids had no friends growing up and one can easily imagine what kind of childhood that might be.

But how can we not address the elephant in the room – Michael Jackson is seen as a pedophile starting mid-1990s. Although the allegations of his first case were resolved, the animosity around Jackson was something that became imminent. It becomes painfully sad to separate the artist from his music and see him as an individual who is definitely not like the songs he writes. How Jackson wrote his song “Childhood” when he molested young boys, is still beyond me. The song which released in 1995 had the lyrics which sang, “Have you seen my childhood? I’m searching for that wonder in my youth; Like pirates in adventurous dreams; Of conquest and kings on the throne” while taking the exact same thing away from innocent children. When these charges surfaced again in 2002, the air became grotesque and people eventually started “cancelling” or “rejecting” Jackson and his work. Rightly so, no one wants a pedophile talking about world peace.

Jackson faced hideous allegations, his life was a pathetic mess, his legacy is what remains, but that too seems to be stained. My perception of Jackson from when I was a child listening to his songs mindlessly, and to today reading several reports on his abuse and molestation, is worlds apart. How I wish he was just a hike I didn’t end up actually going on.

The Journey of a Music Scene

I believe a music scene begins with an idea, a thought that leads to many others and a seed that is sowed in hope of germination. The main idea is that a music scene must grow and develop, and not remain bounded to its earlier stage of existence. Today I am going to write about Malini Awasthi, who is an Indian folk singer and a proud ambassador of the local music scenes that breed from the roots of India.

Coming from a non-musical family, Malini’s initial music scene was a mere hobby – where she learnt Hindustani music. Her audiences were her family and friends. As her interest in music blossomed, she dedicated more time to it, and even went ahead to get a degree in music. Her music scene expanded when she realized that Indian folk music is not considered a part of mainstream music and is not given the respect and admiration it rightly deserves. As a student of classical music, she was determined to bring it to the public eye, to garner greater applause for music that formed the essence of India.

What is India without its colorful culture, poignant art forms and vast historic ethos? The spirit of India lies in the street performers, who sing stories of a heroic past; who infuse saccharinity in the already blissful festivals of our motherland; who compliment the lively streets, colorful ornaments, a plethora of traditional attires and houses decorated with handicrafts like a bride on her wedding day. Folk music is an amalgam of personalized tales that a mother tells her child at bedtime, a lover tells her beloved, the stories of vivacious train journeys, bustling courtyards and the magic of the first rain. These are stories put into music that women in rural India sing while doing household chores, in their own language and many of which are self-composed.

Malini was determined to bring this music scene to the bigger stage – and so she started doing shows, singing stories that originate from the households in rural India, stories about folk literature and tradition. “Folk music is the true connect to our tradition. They give voice to the people of the rural landscape, who are hardly heard” is what Malini believes in and it is due to people like her, that Indian traditions are still alive and flourishing. Her relentless efforts bore fruits when the folk music scene was acknowledgment once more in India and also around the world. Malini not only performed at many venues at home, but also went on tours to Europe, America and Australia. The versatile vocalist spell-bounds the audience with a full range of songs, including the romantic folk melodies, rare ritual songs, sufiana kalaams, thumri compositions and her hit Hindi numbers from films.

Her music also inspired the youth to re-record and contemporize some of these songs, engaging a larger audience and multiplying the reach of folk songs. The Government of India awarded her the civilian honor of the Padma Shri in 2016. This only goes to show how she was successful in identifying a beautiful music scene, making it her own, and printing it on the map across the world.

A music scene begins with a thought, a seed that is sown – a seed that grows into a beautiful tree one day. And before you know, you have a whole garden in your front yard!

A live performance by Malini Awasthi

Softness and Bravery

Songs I feel, have a chemistry with our auditory systems, some touch the core, while some return from the doorstep. Some songs are seasonal visitors, some are guests that we don’t want to invite back, and some become permanent roommates. It’s funny how the same song can be a permanent housemate in so many auditory systems, I guess that’s the power of music. Today, I am going to write about a seasonal visitor, an underrated song – Don’t Let Me Fall by Lenka. I admit I have forgotten this track many times, only to rediscover it and enjoy it for a day and then forget it again. That is because, this song is different – it’s not something you can hear every day, at least for me.

Lenka is an Australian indie-pop singer and an actress. Her song Don’t Let Me Fall is like a whisper, like someone is speaking into your ear, they don’t want to be loud or draw attention but just want to speak what’s in their heart. It can easily be missed or skipped if you are not paying attention it. The speechiness of the song is 3% – which means the words are very light. I feel Lenka gives such a texture to her songs because she wants to convey some kind of hesitation or self-doubt that an individual might have

Lenka is an Australian indie-pop singer and an actress. Her song Don’t Let Me Fall is like a whisper, like someone is speaking into your ear, they don’t want to be loud or draw attention but just want to speak what’s in their heart. It can easily be missed or skipped if you are not paying attention it. The speechiness of the song is 3% – which means the words are very light. I feel Lenka gives such a texture to her songs because she wants to convey some kind of hesitation or self-doubt that an individual might have.

“But if I should break, if I should fall away
What am I to do?
I need someone to take, a little of the weight
Or I’ll fall through”

The uncertainty is perhaps why the voice is low. The lyrics also suggest that the person is asking for help but is not very confident about it. The lyrics and the song itself are delicate, it makes you want to not hurt the person singing it. It also seems brave to some extent, the lyrics are soft, the music is shy, but the song still speaks a lot and continues speaking even if there seems to be some hesitation. The line “don’t let me fall” repeats several times in the song as a disclaimer of sorts – that I’ve fallen before, and I don’t wish to do that again. Hence, it is courageous of the singer to put forward the true feelings.

The track also resembles the quality of a rhyme that a little kid can sing – another reason for the skippable nature of the song because as grown ups we might not want to listen to that kind of music. Lenka suggests that the lullaby format can also portray a conversation in a parent/child relationship, but that is honestly up to the listener. Now don’t get me wrong – I like the song. It has a different feel to it. There is innocence in it, a little fear or embarrassment of confessing your love for the first time. And I don’t see anything wrong in listening to simple music at times. It does require patience to listen, because it might seem slow and unattractive at first, but the lyrics actually make a lot of sense and mirror the shyness, anxiety and excitement that exists in a lot of us.

In an interview Lenka says that this song is about “all your fears and all the things that are so weird about being a human with emotions” and I think that is beautiful. This may not be a track that you listen to everyday, but it is an adorable track that must be listened to by everyone, at least once. And who knows? It might return as a seasonal visitor the next time you feel shy and in love.

© 2020 Anusha Gupta and The Poetic Trance

The Rejuvenating Journey

POV: It is 8 pm on a Tuesday night, you are done with classes, you are taking the bus back to Douglass from Livingston, the waiting time for which could be as long as the journey itself. When you get home, you have to cook yourself dinner, and possibly complete a homework assignment or study for a quiz (because of course you’re the person who takes 19 credits per semester!!). But as of now, you are sitting by a window in a not so crowded REXL because let’s face it, Douglass is not very popular. You have your earplugs in, just like everyone else on the bus. You are basically looking for music that rejuvenates you and can replace a nap. What do you need the most at this point when your day is not really over? Motivation!! Now, motivation is not merely robust tracks that persuade you to spend another 20 minutes in the gym, these can also be tracks that motivate you in more practical ways. Motivation can be of various kinds – motivation to work, motivation to chill, motivation to stress less, motivation to achieve your dreams, and amazingly, one needs all these kinds of motivations almost always.

So, you play the first song, Scars to your beautiful by Alessia Cara. This is your motivation to believe in yourself.

Even after a long day of classes, when your eyes are droopy, hair probably messed up, your shirt isn’t tucked in the way you styled yourself this morning, you are beautiful. And that is because you are a person who believed that you could handle 19 credits, 2 jobs and a research lab, and look at you doing just! Don’t be too harsh on yourself because no one is perfect, in fact imperfections make us more interesting. Songs like these provide you with self-assurance and boost your self-confidence. Self-doubt is definitely our worst enemy. Love yourself and remember your worth because indeed “we’re stars and we’re beautiful”.

Second up is Thunder by Imagine Dragons. I guess we all need motivation to hype us up so that we can go ahead and achieve greater things in life.

I remember when my brother introduced me to this song, and played it on full volume on Alexa, I was inspired to say the least. This song electrifies you and gives you a feeling of what would it be like when you actually reach the peak. It clearly shows that you can accomplish your goals however big they seem, and the thunder of your success will eventually roar. I do feel that the chorus is a bit repetitive, more new words could’ve been added to spice it up but nevertheless the overall vibes seems to compensate for that loss. I feel it is important to uplift yourself so that it brings out the best in you, “I was dreaming of bigger things. And wanna leave my own life behind”.

Next up is Heal the world by Michael Jackson. Because after a dose of ego hoisting, we need a dose of humility. This song motivates you to be a better human being.

This song, like many other Michael Jackson songs, has such a wholesome feel to it. When I heard it for the first time I was awestruck at how simple and yet so powerful the lyrics were. Kindness can be the solution to a lot of problems in the world and this song reminds you that you are capable of being a part of it. Heal the World motivates you to the point where you want to actually step out of your house at this very moment and start helping people. “There’s a place in your heart, and I know that it is love.” It is important to acknowledge that everyone we meet is fighting their own battles and so compassion and empathy will only make this world a more beautiful place. Wars, literal and metaphorical, both can be stopped by humanity. “Make a little space. Make a better place.”

The next song is a Bollywood melody- Jeete Hain Chal by Kavita Seth. This song is a motivation to overcome things that bother us, heartbreak, gloomy life circumstances and a desolate state of mind.

I remember listening to this song on loop during one of the darkest times in my life and felt sudden relief – almost like catharsis. The song seems like a conversation between me and the singer where the singer is cheering me up. One can be disturbed by a lot of things. It is important to understand that not everything is under our control, and we must heal and move ahead in testing times. This song is about living in the moment, loving yourself while you’re at it and and leave all despair in the past. The music is delicate, fearless, vulnerable and always intimate. The lyrics of the song are exceptionally beautiful. “gham musaafir tha jaane de, dhoop aangan mein aane de
Translation: Sorrow was a co-traveler, let it go; let sunshine enter your courtyard”. Jeete Hain Chal itself mean, now, let us live.
It is not only beautiful because it compares sadness to a temporary visitor, but also because we can open our heart anytime and absorb the goodness around us.

Up next, We are Young by Fun. Probably the most important motivation – the motivation to live life to the fullest – is fueled by this song.

This is my personal favorite because the chorus takes you on a high, it actually feels like you are standing on top of the Empire State Building and screaming the lyrics. Well it is true that you only live once, so you must go out there and make the best adventure out of life. Obviously, the idea of fun can be different for different people. In this song, its about getting drunk and partying like hell. But it can also mean going on a roller coaster, skydiving or taking the chances and not regretting your decisions. The bottom line is: Do what makes your heart happy. “Tonight, we are young
So let’s set the world on fire, We can burn brighter than the sun”

Of course, you’re gonna end with La vie en rose by DJ Antoine. This is your motivation to celebrate life, all your achievements big and small, and just yourself in general.

A pat on the back is a minuscule but an extremely motivating thing. This is an underrated song, and quite honestly, I don’t think a lot of people have heard of it. It screams celebration and appreciation for life. When you celebrate the milestones, the journey ahead becomes more meaningful.

The other songs in the playlist resonate with similar messages like the ones provided by above mentioned songs.

And just like that you reached home, motivated on so many levels. After all, the journey wasn’t that long!

© 2020 Anusha Gupta and The Poetic Trance

3 Things That Make a Performance Great

Imagine standing with thousands of people, music which hits the heart just right, lyrics tumbling out of your mouth like oxygen entering your body – effortless and utterly important for survival, and an all engulfing energy which compels you to let loose, sway with it, and feel every inch of your soul. I think this is still an understatement of what Jubin Nautiyal makes us experience in his live performances.

Today I’m going to write about Jubin Nautiyal’s live performance of a popular Bollywood track “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”. Nautiyal who is an indie artist at heart has also sung many soulful Bollywood melodies. This particular song is about a passionate love that still continues on through the cracks and cervices of a broken heart and the band, lighting, stage presence and audience make it a point to prove that. I believe any good concert becomes great through three things: When the vibe of the song is greater than the lyrics, when the audience wants to scream out and sing along, and when the music controls your emotions like a puppeteer.

Jubin’s performance here checks all criteria. The concert starts out with an elevated blast of music, which also ironically is soft and wavy if you give it a thought. So, the band decides to go right into the mood, a straight launch with no prior warnings. The red lights on the stage compliment the music and the vibe I was talking about. In one interview Jubin says, “Music is the language of emotions for me.” This is the exact sentiment he brings out, along with his band, to capture the mood of the gathering. Although, the music is strong, the lyrics of the song are actually mellow and full of pain. We can hear a sense of utter dedication, a sour complaint and an infinite promise of eternal love in the song. The strong presence of the electric guitar electrifies the passion of the song itself.

The singer sings “Yeh rooh bhi meri, yeh jism bhi mera, utna mera nahi, jitna hua tera; tune diya hai jo, woh dard hi sahi, tujhse mila hai toh, inaam hai mera
Translation: “This soul is mine, this body is mine, but they’re not mine as much as they’re yours; even if you’ve given me pain, if I’ve got it from you, then it must be my prize”

The music pauses for some spilt seconds after every line and all you can hear is Jubin and the audience roaring the symphony. This brings out the essence of pain that the song wants to portray – that you are alone in your battle just like everyone else, that you’re just screaming out the hurt into the air, and it is okay to actually weep and celebrate grief. The ambiance thus created, is bigger than the literal lyrics of the song presented. This has ties with my second point of audience engagement.

The moment you hear the crowd singing along – thousands of voices entwining into one single melody, thousands of brooks aligning into one big lake – you know the crowd is in their element. You could hear people singing along from the first line itself – suggesting that they just couldn’t stop themselves – the music, the singer, the atmosphere compel them to join. We can easily tell that this is a song for the masses as the original version which is the title track of the movie “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” had garnered half a million streams on the day of its release and arrived at more than 3.5 million streams in a week thereby setting a new record on Saavn. It is no wonder that it resonates with the larger audience and creates a homely feeling for many. Such songs often do great in concerts. They can serve as a medium of expression, of all the things one might not say out in a regular conversation or the feelings that one cannot put into words. It is true that we listen to sad songs when we are sad to make ourselves even sadder – this is actually a good therapy for venting out.

Lastly, the performance does take you on a ride. The concert is full of passion and heat, you can hear the zeal leaking off the instruments the band is playing. But at moments such as 2:39, you feel the music mellowing down, it is no longer a hurricane but a gentle drizzle. And then it picks up again, like the emotions do in a person. One day you might feel numb but the very next day you feel like a tsunami from within. As Jubin said in one of his interviews, “Music is God to me, it’s the closest form of magic that a human can feel. Music is a celebration, a sadness, a sweet pain, and a happy tear.” This performance catches the human emotions like how a seasoned fielder catches a difficult shot.

Towards the end Jubin sings, “Mohtaj manzil ka toh nahi hai, Yeh ek tarfa mera safar, safar khoobsurat hai manzil se bhi
Translation: “This one-sided journey of mine is not dependent on a destination, the journey is, in fact, more beautiful than the destination itself”

This is a parallel to the journey we as listeners go on with the song in our ears and the vibes in our minds, we don’t know what’s on the other end of this journey, but the journey itself – the song – is so magnificent that the destination seems insignificant to us.

© 2020 Anusha Gupta and The Poetic Trance

Carving an Identity through Music

It is almost like metamorphosis to see a singer bud into the artist they wish to see themselves as. In her album, 1989, we can see Taylor Swift’s new take on music. She throws light on herself as a pop singer through her new venture as glimpses of 80’s pop can be seen in her music. Taylor Alison Swift is an American singer-songwriter, and among the most famous artists around the world.

It seems like she is desperately trying to build a new identity through 1989. The album is named after the year she was born – and hence it seems like her own story; like how some people write diary entries, some share their story as blogs, Swift puts it in a music album. It is a medium of expression, to show the world that she is more capable of just country music. Her art seeps through her music videos and the lyrics yelp reinvention.

Swift chose to attract a mass audience. I feel it is more because of the admiration of pop music among young adults. Young people seem to resonate with pop more and such music is often seen as ‘chartbusters’ around the world. In her song, Welcome to New York, she sings “Welcome to New York, it’s been waiting for you” multiple times, honestly these are the only lines in the song. It points towards how she believes that New York is the place to be – and pop music the trend to follow.

Other common themes of the songs were – lost love, pain and venting out emotions. It seems to be another way to build identity. Songs like Wildest Dreams, All You had to Do was Stay, and This Love make us all emotional and think of a heartbreak (even if we never had one). In the song Clean, you could hear the healing. “Rain came pouring down when I was drowning, that’s when I could finally breathe, and by morning, gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean” There seems to be heartbreak, denial, acceptance and healing all in one album woven together by the dilemma of a human soul. All this drives towards the new identity that music created for Swift.

In her song, Shake it Off, she sings, “But I keep cursin’, can’t stop, won’t stop movin’, It’s like I got this music in my mind, saying it’s gonna be alright”. These lines clearly scream her intent to move onward to greater things. It’s true that music helps us all in some way or the other. The song also focuses an awful lot on “what people say” and how she decided to shake it all off. This could be a comment on what people will say when they see her transforming into a pop artist and that all she cares about is her journey. She is often seen as different than other professionals in her music video which shows that she accepts her flaws and is ready to grow as person, which I feel is beautiful. Towards the end, we can see her with regular people, and she abandons her fancy costumes which I believe symbolizes her being a regular person like you and me who is thriving for better things.

The song Bad Blood seems to be the ultimate metamorphosis that I mentioned earlier. Swift appears to re-build herself quite literally and become a more powerful version of herself. The album ends with New Romantics, and honestly there can’t be a better finale to the story. “’Cause, baby, I could build a castle, Out of all the bricks they threw at me, And every day is like a battle, But every night with us is like a dream”. “They” could be people who criticized her, people who pulled her down and yet Swift is proud to get up and build off of the gloom life threw at her.

An album has the personality of the artist who created it and the album in turn provides the artist with a new sense of identity.

You want to call people over when you renovate your house, your dorm room or your kitchen. Taylor Swift want to call the world over when she renovated herself. I believe more than anything else, she wrote these songs for herself; as a certificate to have reached the next stage of life. The songs that she might’ve just sung alone in the shower, reached millions of people and gathered wide applause and provided validation to her new self. Metamorphosis into a beautiful butterfly.

© 2020 Anusha Gupta and The Poetic Trance

Addicts as Social Victims

I could write about world peace and the humanitarian crisis that goes on in numerous countries every day. I could pen down my thoughts about the pandemic, or how the worldwide economy is doomed. But I wouldn’t. Because some crises may not grab media attention, might not make a sound, might not even seem relevant to other people – but the harsh truth is, it still exists. It exists within each one of us.

It is a fact that people cope up with trauma in various different ways. Unfortunately, some people become addicts of one substance or another. Society views such people as deviants, filthy and even as lowlifes. What I believe is such people are not deviants, they are victims to a whirlwind of traps that the society lays down itself. People who don’t follow social norms are often vilified and neglected. Society sees drug addiction as an evil, but in my opinion, it is a product of societal expectations and deep-rooted structural crisis.

Today, I am going to write about a song which voices what goes inside the head of a drug addict. “Not an Addict” is a single which was written and performed by a Belgian band called “K’s Choice” released in the year 1995. The band was formed by siblings Sarah Bettens and Gert Bettens in 1990s and produced gold and platinum albums.

The band was formed by siblings Sarah Bettens and Gert Bettens in 1990s and produced gold and platinum albums.
The band was formed by siblings Sarah Bettens and Gert Bettens in 1990s and produced gold and platinum albums.

If one reads the lyrics for the first time, you could think that drug addicts live in their own world and are never sober. They reach a point where they get aloof of social norms and what people might think of them.
“The deeper you stick it in your vein
The deeper the thoughts, there’s no more pain
I’m in heaven, I’m a god
I’m everywhere, I feel so hot”

However, if you pay closer attention to lyrics, you could see that such people are in denial, drug use is simply a tool to escape reality. The singer sings “there’s no more pain”. The pain that roots from trauma that we are not aware of. It is important to note that nobody one day wakes up and decides to do drugs, they are pushed into that death trap by some circumstance of life. “It’s not a habit, it’s cool, I feel alive”. Most drug addicts take drugs to reach a state of mind that helps them escape reality. This line is repeated several times in the song, indicating an assurance that they are trying to give themselves on how this is normal. Stereotypes about certain groups in society form a self-fulfilling prophecy where individuals of that groups are forced to admit an alternative realty and accept that to be true.

Symbolism and subtle hints are a big part of the music video. A strong symbol would’ve provided a powerful and sturdy end to this intense song, nonetheless other symbols make up for it. The video starts out with the singer vocalizing – “Breathe it in and breathe it out. And pass it on…”, simultaneously showing an old woman wearing a nasal cannula with obvious breathing problems. Later in the song, when the line “It’s not a habit, it’s cool” repeats itself, a poster in the bus shows us which reads “Out of Work?”. These symbolic hints speak of greater problems such as how the societal pressure can be too much, suffocating some of their opinions and identities even though everything might look normal on the surface. Drug addicts are mostly unemployed, and nobody wants to employ a drug addict. Hence, they are “out of work”. It is a vicious cycle as poverty or lower socio-economic status must have led to low rates of education, which in turn leads one into petty crimes and groups which might have a negative influence, leading to unemployment, and hence drug use which repeats the whole cycle.

Any regular person with a sound mind would not ruin their lives in such a way. And thus, it becomes exceedingly important to understand the root cause of this addiction, and what helps maintain it. Addiction is considered a disease by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NDIA). We need to change our perspective from viewing addicts as dangerous and deviant members of the society to people who have fallen prey to the harsh realities of life. Kindness rather than hatred is what’s needed in an addict’s life.  In the scholarly article “Social Identities as Pathways into and out of Addiction”, authors Genevieve A. Dingle, Tegan Cruwys, and Daniel Frings talk about how social influence can drive one into this pit. “Social factors are involved at every stage of the development of and recovery from a substance use disorder (SUD). For example, the onset of problematic substance use may be associated with social isolation (Chou et al., 2011) or with peer pressure and normative influences on behavior (Bauman and Ennett, 1996; Ary et al., 1999)”. Social isolation is again caused by prejudices held by a society that reflects in behavior and labels that are given to drug addicts. A label is not that easy to wash away.

Numerous songs have been written on addiction, “Save Me” by Shinedown, “Under the Bridge” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, and “The A Team” by Ed Sheeran, among others, all of which are a cry of help. Society may despise aberrant acts and such songs are not exactly what you would want your children to listen to. From a psychological point of view, addicts are patients just as much as a person who suffers a cardiac arrest.

In conclusion, I would like to say that drug addiction is not a problem, it is a consequence of the problem – which is societal norms, scapegoating and prejudice. Addicts are not deviants; they are the ones who bear the brunt of the harsh realities of a chaotic world. Songs such as “Not an Addict” make us shake up and realize that people are fighting grave internal battles, succumbed to societal pressures, living in a world that no longer accepts them, a society that is not a help but a circus, a mind that is unlivable and destructive.

Imagine living a life where rainbows do not matter, flower blooming do not bring happiness, there are no beach days just harsh winter storms, and yet surviving through it all, when you reach the other side of the ocean, there is no hand to pull you out. Addiction is an illness; kindness is medication.

© 2020 Anusha Gupta and The Poetic Trance

Anything and Everything

You could’ve been a cherry blossom,
But you chose to be a falling leaf.
You could’ve been a victory haul,
But you chose to be a sigh of relief.
You could’ve been the biggest fish in the sea,
But you chose to sit by the shore.
You could’ve been a breezy day,
But you chose to be a downpour.

I could’ve been an observer, a character in your book
I could’ve been a low river, a shallow brook.
I could’ve been a hello, or an instant goodbye,
I could’ve been the December to your July.

You can still be a dying leaf,
But I will support you in grief
You could still be a low sigh
I’ll be the bookmark to happier colors of your sky
You could still be too afraid to dive into the sea
I’ll be by the shore, I’ll set you free
You could still be thunder and rain,
I’ll be all the seasons, spring will come again.

You could be anything, and I will be everything


This is a reminder that you’re a beautiful worthy and well deserving person. Life has much more to offer than what is visible right now. You are loved and appreciated, although people might not express it often. Your heart is golden and your soul is pure and good things are waiting right around the corner!

Don’t forget to smile today because you deserve all the happiness in the world and then some more.