This song is hard to remove from the music video it goes with considering the music video changes the message of the song dramatically, but I’ll do my best to cover both. Overall, this song shares a message of self-worth for women saying that the women listening are worth whatever they want to deal with. It encourages people in relationships to work through their problems too. I’ll get into where I see that during my analysis of the lyrics with the video.
For now, if we look strictly at the lyrics, the song is rather simplistic, but there are some lines that draw the character of the speaker into the question if we look at this like a poem. For instance, in the chorus we have the line “run around with guys like me/ ‘Til sundown, when I come through” which probably is written more to rhyme with “you” than anything, but it makes me wonder what they are getting through, and why it is “guys like me” because unless you know Adam Levine very well, that could mean any number of types of person. It could be saying that women will run around with playboys until they get over it, after all.
That “when I come through” part of it gives me a chance to read into it that most of the time women are running around with someone who isn’t the person they’re actually with, like the song “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne. That song talks about how people change when they’re among other people, and it makes sense in the context of “when I come through” because the women have to wait around until they’re feeling like they can be vulnerable and let down this disguise they have around other people.
These masks are actually a natural experience of the human condition, and help us handle the social section of our Maslow’s social belonging needs of either saving face to fit in, or losing face to become more of an individual. The question is what mask this speaker is putting forward in the song. For that, we have to look closer at some other lyrics.
The song clearly indicates that all is not perfect in this relationship as we have lines like “You spent the weekend/ Getting even, oh oh/ We spent the late nights/ Making things right, between us” and while that may be an innuendo, I don’t think it is. It can be taken that way, but I think the better explanation reading other sections later in the poem is that this person has serious conversations with their significant other to work out their problems, especially given “Now it’s all good baby” after another section of potential argument. “We spent the daylight/ Trying to make things right between us” which could mean they were spending their more sober hours in discussion and development of their interpersonal bond until things felt alright.
But why are they fighting so much? Or is it just examples of how people can fight and make up to encourage working things through verbally without taking things the Hollywood movie way? This song encourages a woman to “play [him] close” which has a number of potential interpretations, like keeping the speaker on a tight leash, not letting him get too far away physically, keeping a close eye on his actions, or it could mean to be emotionally close, and keeping that bond they worked on through discussions and fixing their relationship.
This poses a problem because while the song may be feminist in nature according to the video, this idea that the woman has to “play” the man “close” may be taken as that it is the woman’s responsibility to block the man from inappropriate behavior. In any relationship, it isn’t either party’s responsibility to curtail bad behavior like cheating, public inappropriateness, drinking, or addiction. There are some different reasoning for each. The reason one person doesn’t have to curtail cheating of another individual isn’t the same as the reason they don’t have a responsibility to curtail addiction.
For addiction, including alcoholism, it’s their choice to support the individual through recovery, not force them to recover through nagging and heavy-handed observation. If the person asks their significant other to support them by being with them and reminding them, then that’s appropriate support, not a responsibility to them, it’s a request that they are choosing to honor, not something society says they must do regardless of the desires of the individuals in the relationship.
The other side of the spectrum is cheating and public inappropriateness, these things are completely on the side of the offender to gain some self-control, not on the side of the one being embarrassed or hurt by their actions. In a relationship it’s your responsibility to be a good significant other, not their responsibility to make you a good significant other. But, like I said at the beginning of this, there are two sides to this song. Without the music video and with it.
With the music video laid on top of the lyrics, it’s a much more empowering song for women and it becomes more apparent that the message is more like an apology for all of the nonsense the speaker puts his perfect woman through rather than telling her that she has to curtail his behavior. The chorus turns more into a message of “We enjoy each other’s company during the day, and when sundown happens, this version of me who’s apologizing is there with you, and I need someone like you who will stick around for that.” The song becomes more of a “I need to change, you’re perfect” as we see empowering women dancing behind Adam Levine showing off their strengths and encouragement to their audience.
With the added message from Cardi B talking about how she is fighting for her best life, and getting it, there is another layer of encouragement to only accept what’s best for yourself rather than what society says is best for you. Her message is not to settle for the Disney normal of “a white horse and a carriage” but for financial stability and someone that you really love.
Overall, the song itself is a bit monotone and repetitive for my tastes, but the message has some depth if you look at the different word choices, versus pairing it with the visuals.
Disagree with my assessment? Agree with it? I’d love to hear from you! Drop a comment below!