Every once in a while (and I mean once in a WHILE) a song comes along that stays with you for longer than a couple of months; it’s the kind of song that from first listen, you KNOW that five years down the road, you will still be contemplating its every verse and finding further, new, exciting ways to relate it to your life, for better or for worse.
That song for me today is “Losers” by the Belle Brigade.
The song itself, all lyrics and meaning aside, is wonderful; it’s a cascading anthemic melody that builds in intensity and swells to an empowering climax; reminiscent of the finest moments of Mumford & Sons’ “Sigh No More”, its soft rollicking folk meets fists-in-the-air punk is exciting, uplifting and purely joyful to listen to. But, tripped of its firmly engrossing melody, layers and layers of youth-to-youth wisdom still remain.
With multiple accounts of bullying, homophobia and harassment in schools leading to a large volume of preventable suicides by teens who are “different”, it seems young youth are facing a great deal of upheaval, despite the seemingly increasingly liberal popculture climate and government. As a result, many of youth’s representatives who are in the public eye have created art (I speak specifically of music) to celebrate diversity and open up the doors so these teens can pass through and feel less alone. Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” is a dance anthem that is sure to be played countless times at every Pride celebration all over the world this summer and is a great example of a pop song that conveys an outwordly positive and uplifting message about being yourself.
“Born This Way” though, is a proclamation that you should love and celebrate yourself because we’re all different and beautiful in our own way; while this is true though, if you don’t believe it, or someone else is telling you EVERY day that you’re ugly and worthless, it’s an easier-said message, than a believed one. What I glean from a song with a similar message like “Losers” by the up-and-coming Belle Brigade (who are sure to make a HUGE splash with their debut, if it’s as good as the single indicates it will be) is something more grounded, wise and relatable than Gaga’s exploding-out-the-closet you festival.
Make no mistake: I was never trying to be ‘cool’; I MAY have tried, at one point, but was shot down quite profusely. And after that point, I realized this: I am not not cool. There was nothing cool about me in junior high and high school; I was mousey, fat, constantly drawing manga-esque pictures in my binder, befriending faculty, reading comic books, listening to old AM hits from the 70s… I never talked to anyone. I gave up shortly after everyone made fun of me when I opened my mouth to say almost anything. These memories haunt and embarass me even twelve years later, and I don’t know if I can ever shake them or eliminate myself of their inflicted insecurities and fears. The song implies that one should pay no mind to being cool, but that was never an issue for me.
The song to me though, is significant in its sense of community: the idea that you are not alone in your difference, in your awkwardness; the idea that you, contrary to your negative feelings and thoughts, are like everyone else; there will always be someone better than you no matter how hard you try to be on top, and conversely there will always be someone “worse” than you. The idea isn’t to compare yourself; the idea is to understand that to be yourself will allow to live the most normal, un-hostile life you possibly can. Without competition, without comparison, without worrying constantly that you’re not good enough.
If I had a time machine that I could use any old time I wanted, I would transport myself back to the day that I stood before my yellow locker in grade 7, reading filthy words that were scribbled on it about me and my weight and my clothes and my family; that day, I told a teacher about the profanity on my locker and he merely said, “it’s after 4:00 and you shouldn’t be at the school anymore” and sent me packing; but I called my mom in tears and told her about it and and she came to school with a cloth and a bucket of soapy water and scrubbed off my locker for me in front of faculty and staff in protest to the abusive acts inflicted on the only space in the school that was rightfully mine. I would go back to that day and play this song for my seemingly meek 12-year old self. And I genuinely believe it would help.
This song demonstrates older youth — people in their twenties or early thirties — who were persecuted maybe, like I was — passing on their newfound wisdom, emancipation and coming of age with those whose shoes they walked in ten or fifteen years ago. This kind of passing of knowledge is invaluable and further demonstrates the aforementioned sense of community manifested in and by this song.
In just one morning, this song changed my life.