I compiled songs into the following Spotify playlist that represent buried and expressed emotion through the body. These songs use the body as a vessel- either as a way to recognize others’ emotions or to symbolize their own. As you listen to these select songs, I will break down how they portray the body as a mode of unearthed expression. The following songs are in no particular order.
- What You Know by Two Door Cinema Club
“I can tell just what you want
You don’t want to be alone
You don’t want to be alone
And I can’t say it’s what you know
But you’ve known it the whole time
Yeah, you’ve known it the whole time.”
Throughout the song, the singer of Two Door Cinema Club is trying to express how his love interest is lonely. He wants to be there for her, but he understands that she is hiding her feelings of loneliness. He can see through her, as he can most likely figure this out through her body and what it expresses. This is why he claims, “I can’t say it’s what you know, but you’ve known it the whole time.” He cannot put words in her mouth since she hasn’t claimed this yet, but he can tell through her body and its expressions that she knows it as well.
- SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK by Joji
“Give me reasons we should be complete
You should be with him, I can’t compete
You looked at me like I was someone else, oh well
Can’t you see?
I don’t wanna slow dance
In the dark.”
Joji’s extremely emotional song uses the body as a metaphor. By slow dancing with their bodies in the dark, Joji means that he and his love interest are involved in a romantic relationship, but they are lost and confused (“in the dark”, as one would say). They are not sure what they want in the relationship, and Joji uses their bodies to emphasize their hopelessness and confusion.
- GONE, GONE / THANK YOU by Tyler, The Creator
“Comparing scars before dinner…”
“The weatherman told me it wasn’t rainin’
My stupid ass brought umbrellas
I got a glimpse of your cloud and felt better
Now it’s 90 degrees, and all the tricks up my sleeve
Is drenched in sweat and delusion because I jet to conclusions.”
“You opened up early on, I thought I had a permit
You started buildin’ a bridge and turned it into a fence
Then my buildin’ got tore down all because of your new tenant
I’ll just buy up some new shit, never down with a lease
You never lived in your truth, I’m just happy I lived in it.”
The entirety of Tyler’s song focuses on the body to tell a story of how he fell in love with someone, who ended up leaving him for a woman. He tells their story through references to the body- from falling in love, to betrayal, to moving on. Tyler uses his body as a vessel and his emotions as physical situations that happen around him to help people understand his feelings. The first lyric I referenced talks about how Tyler and his lover compared their emotional traumas (“scars on their bodies”) at the beginning of their relationships. The second lyrics I reference talk about how Tyler buys umbrellas because is convinced he will be caught in a storm and needs to keep himself dry. Tyler is disregarding a more experienced figure in his life, saying it is okay to open up and love. Tyler feels paranoid, and shields himself from his lover anyways, as he does not want to become broken down by him. However, Tyler ends up in the heat rather than the rain, and his body “drenches” his ideas of love with delusion and paranoia. Within the last lyrics, Tyler physically symbolizes love and trust to his lover and him physically building a house. Tyler believes he can “build his house” on his lover due to their openness, however, his lover pushes him physically further and further away, which can also represent emotional distancing as well. However, a female builds back on his lovers’ land, and Tyler decides to build his own “home” (companionship) somewhere else.
- Glitter by Tyler, The Creator
“Fireworks, I feel like glitter
And every time you come around, I feel like glitter.”
“Look at my face, look at that joy
This is one sided, yeah I can’t lie.
Pale skin see-through, must be a window.”
Tyler talks about falling in love with someone on this track. He physically tries to explain how he feels in his body whenever he sees his crush. Within the first lyric, Tyler claims his body is like a firework, and he feels like “glitter” when his love interest is around to light him up. This physical sensation the body feels, which Tyler calls glitter, is referring to the excitement and joy that the body feels. Tyler also references that joy he feels within the second lyrics, claiming that his love interest can see his joy when he’s around him due to his facial features expressing it. However, Tyler realizes this love is one-sided, and then claims he can see through his love interests “pale skin”. This can refer to him using his love interests body to truly tell where his interests lie- his voice says one thing while his body says another.
- All Me (feat. Keyshia Cole) by Kehlani
“When you see him, know that’s all me.”
Put quite simply and plainly, Kehlani and Keyshia Cole are claiming that when people see their lover, they can instantly tell from his body language, his movements, how he talks- anything physical his body does- that they are the ones making him act like that. They influence his body and how he conveys himself now.
- Adore You by Harry Styles
“Walk in your rainbow paradise.”
“I’d walk through fire for you
Just let me adore you.”
Harry’s entire song is based around the idea of physically displaying his love for someone. Through the lyrics I referenced, Harry shows his body becoming physically involved in a landscape that his partner puts him in. It can be a paradise, but it can also be fiery. His body will go through whatever it is to be able to adore his lover.
- Latch by Disclosure featuring Sam Smith
“Got you shackled in my embrace
I’m latching on to you.”
“You got me losing every breath
What did you give me to make my heart beat out my chest?”
This song conveys love and trust in a physical way through the body. By latching onto their lover, Sam Smith sings that they will now fully love and trust them by latching onto them, while never letting them leave by “shackling” them to their body. They use the body to express inward feelings of wanting to keep someone in their life and settle down with them. It can also be seen as an emotional dependence on their partner as well.
- San Francisco by THE DRIVER ERA
“Holding on, I’m holding on to your clothing
Holding on, I’m holding on to our story.”
“Holding on, I’m holding on to your body
Holding on, I’m holding on to this feeling.”
Here, Ross Lynch sings about a past love that burned out. Ross and Rocky write about the body as an archive here- by holding onto physical things, it is able to contain and keep the stories and feelings they experienced with their past lover.
- Camo by Ryan Beatty
“Camo print depression
I keep my feelings hidden.”
Beatty’s song physically tells his struggles with depression and how things don’t really matter much to him. However, within the lyrics I’ve referenced, Beatty refers to his depression as camo print. He is able to hide his feelings within his body, blending in with everyone else by using a camo print and forcing his body to fit in with everyone else’s. However, the rest of his lyrics in the song show his true hidden feelings as a form of expression to let his body convey his depression in a different way rather than physically.
- Surf by Mac Miller
“There’s water in the flowers, let’s grow.”
“Sometimes I get lonely
Not when I’m alone
But it’s more when I’m standin’ in crowds
That I’m feelin’ the most on my own.”
Within the first lyrics, Mac Miller describes him and his love interest’s bodies as flowers with water (this can be hope, positivity, beginning anew, etc.) in them, and the ability to grow as people together from this water. Miller also talks about how he feels most alone in crowds. Even with hundreds of bodies around him, his own body feels most by himself there. No body in the crowd knows him well enough to understand him, making him feel alone. Miller also makes references to the body as well at the beginning of the song.
- Foreward (feat. Rex Orange County) by Tyler, The Creator
“How many raps can I write ‘til I get me a chain?
How many chains can I wear ‘til I’m considered a slave?”
“You better not drown, keep them ten toes up.”
Tyler raps the first lyric I’ve referenced, talking about how the more he raps, the more money he can make. However, with the more fame he gets, the more he will be held back. He references this to slavery, using his body as an archive and relating it back to his ancestors being slaves and how that generational chain continues to hold him back in life. Within the second lyric, Tyler talks about not wanting to drown. He views life as a pool and our bodies as the vessel of our emotions. If our bodies drown, we ultimately succumb to life and end up drowning in it.
- Peach Scone by Hobo Johnson
“I love the thought of being with you
Or maybe it’s the thought of not being so alone!”
“So I don’t know what to tell you
If I try to confess my love for… scones.”
“Good for you guys, I’m glad (Being so alone!).”
Hobo Johnson’s song is a tennis match between what his body and what his mind want to convey to his love interest. Johnson falls in love with someone who has a boyfriend. His mind knows it’s wrong, however, his body cannot help but display his true love for her. The two clash together, trying to explain or cover up his emotions. The first lyric is the fight between his body and brain on what this is- love for her or love for wanting to be loved. The body views it as true love and tries to make him slip hints at his love for her in conversations, but the brain covers it up immediately and rationalizes it. This is seen in the second lyric. In the middle of the body trying to get him to confess his true feelings, the brain jumps in and changes the topic.
- Pull Me Deep by Logan Henderson
“You pull me deep, both feet
I would drown for your loving, what’s wrong with me?
I’m under water, don’t wanna breathe
I would drown for your loving and then repeat.”
Logan Henderson captures the feeling of being stuck in love as his body drowning. He claims his body is being brought down and drowned in his interests’ love. He claims he will drown in her love for her to continue loving him. Through this, he is trying to convey that he will put himself in any dangerous situation just for her to keep loving him, which he explains through the body.
- Consume (feat. Goon Des Garcons) by Chase Atlantic
“And you can take my flesh if you want, girl
But baby don’t abuse it.”
“Anxiety is one hell of a problem
She’s latching onto me, I can’t resolve it.”
This song is based on the anime “Tokyo Ghoul”, where a girl must feed on other humans to remain alive. My interpretation of this song is that Chase Atlantic uses her as a metaphor for anxiety and its toll on someone’s body and mind. Within the first lyric, Mitchel Cave begs the girl that she can stay within him and take control, as long as she does not abuse her power inside of his body. This is Mitchel submitting to his anxiety, but not wanting it to control his life. In the second lyric, Mitchel embodies anxiety into the girl, claiming she is “latching” onto him and causing him to succumb to his anxiety, which he had been fighting off the entire time.
- Filter by Jimin of BTS (English Translation)
“For you, every day I’ll be new
It’s not fun to stay the same all the time.”
“Overcoming different tastes and standards
You’ll be wanting only me
Yeah, because you are the one who made me.”
Jimin begs his love that he will change his physical appearance for her just to keep her interested. He uses different “filters” to show her just how different he can appear. He gives her the choice to pick how she wants him to appear. Jimin, within the lyrics, exercises the idea of the body as adaptable.
- Falling by Harry Styles
“I’m falling again, I’m falling again, I’m fallin’.”
Harry’s mind overthinks while he reminisces on a past lover. His anxiety of overthinking is present in the chorus, where he asks a bunch of questions he knows will probably go unanswered. He then claims he is “falling”, a physical sensation the body feels. When our body falls, it is hopeless, and cannot brace itself or catch itself. Harry relates this physical emotion to his hopelessness with his ex-lover in his unanswered questions and thoughts.