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We broke up within a few months. Tinder was good because it taught me all the new ways people can disappoint you. Dan will send you messages every day, but never agree to meet up. Jack looked taller in his pictures and Sam will eventually stalk you. It was hard to see their profiles as anything more than items in a catalog. Robyn cries and spins on the dance floor. She watches her former lover fall for somebody else and welcomes the loneliness. Robyn will dance on her own, just as Gloria Gaynor will survive, just as Dolly Parton will beg Jolene not to take her man.
Through the early to mid-aughts, pop breakups were painted in bold, universal shades. Breakup songs became more personal and specific as dating grew more complicated and our interactions readjusted to fit and forge an alternate reality. The modern breakup song is less concerned with the actual breakup or relationship, and more preoccupied with digitally spawned s and symbols and the meanings we ascribe to them.
The modern breakup song is a meta breakup song. Both touch on familiar salves for end-times anxiety and the indignities of modern dating. In and , Ariana Grande released two albums that bookended a whirlwind romance. The relationship started out hot and heavy on the heels of her breakup with Mac Miller, and the public followed along via tabloids and social media before she even shared a single song.
Her fans and paparazzi had already determined the story, more or less via meme, and made room for Grande to play a little inside baseball. She even named a song after her then-boyfriend, first and last name. Issa bop but also has chunks of my soul in it. Thank U, Next , the ensuing breakup album, follows Grande from the last glimmers of relationship bliss into single-life savagery. She hits all the relevant tropes, respectively—Netflix and takeout, one-night stands—and delves deeper into the growing network of nuances and norms. Lapses in communication are expected and imbalanced intimacy is common.
By this logic, most songs are breakup songs. Love games play out in extremes. The second layer is what remains of the shattered facade and what gets built in its place. The found a logical endpoint, past our immersion into faux reality, a future when love is purely a digital transaction.
He would get him cooked animals and show him the people having sex again, and he would always, always agree with him. Post-breakup, I leaned into my pathetic desperation and listened to The Secret audiobook. Just imagine the thing you want every day, and eventually it will be yours. I imagined moving on and meeting someone new. It was as real as anything else. Julia Gray is a Brooklyn-based music and culture writer. She makes chaotic tweets at juliagrayok.
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