Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Music Liners -- "If I Let You Go" by Westlife

For all those hopeless romantics (or hopeful romantics) out there, this is perhaps one of the most fitting songs to describe your state of mind. I know so because it was one of my favorites. It is also the perfect song to capture the "limerence" condition blogged about before.

Westlife is an Irish boyband formed in the late 1990s, when boybands (e.g. N-Sync, Backstreet Boys), girlbands (e.g. Spice Girls, Atomic Kitten) and mixed gender bands (e.g. S-Club 7, Hear'Say, Steps) were all the rage. Although I lived in a remote corner of Europe at the time, it was difficult not to get caught up in the pop culture. I remember one of my friends back then, a somewhat feminine guy, being addicted to the Spice Girls. As revealed previously, I remain very much a fan of pop music and of various pop artists. But this appears to be a fading fad in a music industry increasingly dominated by modern rock, techno, and rap.

But back to the subject, Westlife consists of four guys (originally five) who have continued to flourish in their music performance. The band represents an outlier because they remain successful and together -- when all the aforementioned bands have long parted ways. They are recognized for being of the best selling music acts over the past decade, and having fourteen of their singles hitting the numero uno spot at the UK music chart. But I digress a bit: this isn't a post to describe the band, but to discuss of their songs. You can read to your heart's content on the band here (link to Wikipedia).

After hearing the song, I think you'd be inclined to agree with first paragraph of this blog post. Is the song "cheesy"? Absolutely yes! Is it "vaguely pathetic"? I would also admit that it is indeed. However, neither cheesiness nor pathetic-ness can take away the straightforward message of the song: you don't want to let go that special someone you found.

The song, as its title suggests, is about someone unwilling to let go of their special other; this person is seemingly stuck in a limbo state of being unable to move on, yet at the same time, unable to letting go too. In other words, the narrator is madly in love with this other person but is kept from professing his affections -- mainly triggered by the fear of losing this other person. It's incredibly effusive of a song, but the truthfulness of the message is difficult to ignore. I think for those who have loved and lost, the lyrics reflect on our experiences very well. Even more for those who have loved but were unable to express their love.

Although the entire lyrics of the song are very to the point, I will single a couple of verses for discussion:

"There's no one like you, to speak to my heart, it's such a shame we're worlds apart"
"If I let you go, I would never know, what my life would be, holding you close to me"

Verse 1 is a bit depressing, as it comes in the second part of the song, when the narrator has seemingly come to terms of his predicament (read: limbo state). It's a bittersweet moment, when you realize just how impossible the hope and dream you've nourished isn't what you thought it would be. Perhaps you realize that despite physical proximity, you and your interest are actually "worlds apart". What do you do then? Do you deal with and decide it may be time move on?

Verse 2 listed is the first line of the song's chorus. The chorus brings the listener back to the idea of becoming unwilling to let go, because in doing so one would never know the other future. This verse captivates our attention because it addresses our fear of regret -- of lost opportunities that could have radically shaped our lives. Letting go of your interest means you'd miss out on the warmth of possibly "holding [this other person] close to [you]". One can never underestimate the value we assign to this type of warmth.

In all, I like the song because it is straightforward and simply an emotional song. I used to listen to it more, whenever I thought about Mandy. Nowadays, I am trying not to listen...

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