Interpreting Texts

By: Jonathan Law

Immortals : Fall Out Boy

Purpose: Why was the song written?

The song was written for a scene (in the movie) in which the main character (who is a robotic genius) builds super suits for his friends and is trying it out on them. At the beginning of the video prototypes are made, and throughout the song the main character’s friends try them out. The song identifies partly with the idea of victories that aren’t earned by one person, but a team. The main character built the suits, but the suits wouldn’t be useful if it weren’t for the rest of his friends, ergo a victory through teamwork.

Inference 1:

Lyric:

I am the sand in the bottom half of the hourglass (glass, glass)

I try to picture me without you but I can't


Inferred Meaning:

This refers to the ideal of teamwork and partnerships, meaning that the group/partnership is incomplete with just one partner. It could also mean that the person signing cannot identify themselves with others, (being the sand in the bottom half of the hourglass, with everyone else as the air in the top half), but still relies on them to function properly (a little like the relationship schizophrenics have with memories).

Inference 2:

Lyric:

‘Cause we could be immortals, immortals, just not for long, for long


Inferred Meaning:

This might refer to the redundancy of being immortal, as eventually there will be nothing to do. It shows the desire to live longer and accomplish more, but to able to rest at the end of it all. It might also mean that the singer would like power of a huge magnitude for a while, if only to change things or accomplish tasks.

Inference 3:

Lyric:

Sometimes the only payoff for having any faith

Is when it's tested again and again everyday.


Inferred Meaning:

I think the meaning of this lyric means how sometimes a bond of friendship or family can be worn down by the test of time, but that there are no other immediate rewards. I’d say that it probably fits a couple’s relationship more, as they have to spend time and money to know each other, but once they know each other the reward of companionship is their reward. However, that reward is not immediate, and therefore it means “the only payoff for having faith”.

Outside : Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding

Purpose: Why was this song written?

The song lyrics by themselves would appear to have no meaning, but the music video portrays much more meaning. In the video, Harris and Goulding play two partners in separate toxic/abusive relationships who appear to be the main recipient of abuse. The video is also intercut with scenes portraying Goulding solo, while surreal images bend the fore/background, objects in the frame freeze in time, Goulding is suspended in the air, and Goulding is also shown with a rectangular mirror (which eventually shatters). At the end of the video, Harris and Goulding are portrayed mid-fistfight. The song is very ambiguous towards both of the personalities, and leaves the viewer to question who was in the right and who was in the wrong.

Inference 1:

Lyric:

Look at what you've done

Stand still, falling away from me


Inferred Meaning:

This basically told me about the relationship that was going on in the song. Since the singer refers to “stand still, falling away from me”, it’s most likely not the fault of either person in the relationship and the fact that something abrupt had happened. This is why the singer mentions “falling away from me” even though she had just said “stand still”. “Look at what you’ve done” is probably just the human act of pointing fingers, as the rest of the lyrics in the song contradict this.

Inference 2:

Lyric:


So, you give me no reason

For me to stay close to you

Tell me what lovers do



Inferred Meaning:

This hints at the relationship the singer might have previously had with someone else. However, they had slowly drifted apart, and therefore she sings “So, you give me no reason, For me to stay close to you” In this way we can tell that they didn’t want to fall apart, or that something sudden had happened to their relationship and proved to be toxic for it.

Inference 3:

Lyric:

We did everything right

Now I'm on the outside


Inferred Meaning:

This verse is mainly in accordance with the previous quote: something sudden (and toxic) had happened to their relationship, and now the singer is “on the outside”. Even though they meant for a happy relationship, circumstances proved to be against it, ergo “We did everything right”. Usually, something that breaks apart relationships suddenly and without the ‘consent’ of the couple is almost always something toxic: a history of domestic abuse, etc.

Piecing it all together

Main Meaning