Friday, November 29th, 2019

Lewis Capaldi – Before You Go

Another musical foray from the Scots funnyman…


Oliver Maier: I hate to beat an Ed horse, but the similarities between Sheeran and Capaldi would be eerie if they weren’t so plainly calculated, from their shared unassuming blandness to their fondness for guttural belting, the latter presumably a vestige of post-grunge that both artists have mistaken for an easy way of expressing Big Important Emotions. “Before You Go” addresses the “rigmarole” of processing a loved one’s suicide, but you likely wouldn’t know it from the vague, platitudinous lyrics alone. The lack of focus on display betrays the fact that Capaldi is not speaking from personal experience — he says himself that this was inspired by his mother’s grief rather than his own — and suggests to me that he has bitten off more than he can chew with this topic, clumsily translating as he does the notion that the bereaved in these scenarios experience anger into the line “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you”. Moreover, the fuzziness feels devised to ensure that the whole affair can resonate as breakup blues to anyone who doesn’t care to dig deeper into the context, and that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Kylo Nocom: As gnarled, ugly, and broken as the subject demands. I didn’t actively seek out songs like this a couple of months ago, instead picking apart the lyrics to sad songs I enjoyed for the purpose of my own interpretations. The opening lines of “Motion Sickness” became a bit of a mantra in my head for weeks, even if it was in a context where the hate was justified; it’s nice to have a song that opens with something similar and travels down a path that meets my own.

Thomas Inskeep: Lewis Capaldi’s music, and “Before You Go” is no exception, makes me want to slap him across the face and yell “STOP MEWLING!” And then slap him again.

Alfred Soto: When I looked in the mirror, I noticed spittle glistening on my neck.

Edward Okulicz: Five years ago this would have been a OneRepublic song. Vowels cower in terror (“Tom can heal,” “saahfeeece”), but I can just press stoooooop, thank goodness.

Michael Hong: Something about Capaldi’s strained rasp makes his tracks register as agonizingly heartbreaking. “Before You Go” uses that gravelly wail to invoke intense heartache but it splits between the seams of the verse and chorus, exposing the former as a rather drab attempt at sentimentality without the voice or instrumental to back it up.

Ashley Bardhan: Suddenly I’m a sophomore in high school. I go to the mall to buy pumpkin-scented whipped body butter from Bath and Body Works. I get shy while ordering frappuccinos from Starbucks and wish that Brandy Melville was not one-size-fits-all because that’s really unflattering. I hope that a frumpy, tousled, sherpa jacket white man will fall in love with me soon even though I’m fifteen. Clearly, I did not have a well-formed concept of age as a coercive power tool. I don’t like this song because it’s treacly, but the fifteen-year-old in me hates that eager sweetness is an insult, so I don’t hate it as much as I could. 

Scott Mildenhall: You know how James Blunt rebranded himself by “showing a sense of humour” on Twitter? Well at least James Blunt had some catchy songs.

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2 Responses to “Lewis Capaldi – Before You Go”

  1. Prior to this song, I’ve always been…perplexed?….as to why some artists become popular solely based on their 1) vocal range or 2) vocal timbre. I mean, if I wanted to see either trait in full swing, I could just (but I wouldn’t) binge-watch seasons of The Voice or America’s Got Talent or, really, any other talent show that allows singing on its stage. I realize now, however, that these artists usually share a common quality to them: the sort of shoddy, vague songwriting that makes all teenage hearts bleed. Choose between eye-rolling profundities (“Time can heal but this won’t”) and nonsensical idioms (“Like troubled water running cold”), and you’ll find each one accompanied by the pop tropes of Adele or Sam Smith in which the only real shocker is that Capaldi doesn’t rhyme the last two lines in the chorus. At least this song evokes one emotion from me: the absolute dread for all the audience members who have to hear this song recycled across the nation as the soundtrack to another Sad Contemporary Dance.

  2. “beat an Ed horse” is amazing

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