There are many different love songs—the classic, beta-male love song crooned by an obvious alpha male (everything Justin Timberlake; the contradiction works wonders), the burned by love but still longing song (the Scorpions “No One Like You,”), the femme-power boy-stealing hard rock of some of Avril Lavigne’s catalog, etc. But our point today is how to know it’s definitely not love. Let’s meta-analyze Gotye and Kimbra for now:
Dang, if that is not a First World break-up of two upper middle class white people, I don’t know what is. This kind of conundrum sure sounds irritating: Told myself that you were right for me / But felt so lonely in your company. He’s literally saying that he’s tried to convince himself this New Zealander chick was the right one, but you know, the feelings just weren’t what he was expecting. We’ll get back to this, but let me interject that chicks from New Zealand sound like a great idea.
A couple lines later, second verse: You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness / Like resignation to the end, always the end. Let me say in all sincerity this is a goddamned fact and the only bit of this song that is not a lie. Let’s dig into this.
Why would a person get addicted to sadness? Being sad is a response to stimulus that helps you know what to do next. Let’s say your new puppy gets hit by a car. You are sad; you tearfully bury the puppy your backyard. You may later get a new puppy.
You have such tender expectations for this puppy—and why not, your last experience was heart-breaking. There’s something kind of different this time, though—the feelings aren’t quite the same. It’s just not the way you expected it to be. What are you going to do?
You may not feel sad yet, but if you were sad then you would know what to do.
You told yourself that this puppy was right for you, but you didn’t feel the same with this puppy. It should have been different; you don’t know what’s wrong or why. It doesn’t seem fair or right. Good, good, the sadness is swelling in you now.
Now that you’ve achieved sadness, you can do what you’ve learned to do when you’re sad about a puppy. You bury it and move on.
Jesus Christ, what kind of psychopath do we have here?? You don’t just murder a puppy by burying it alive. But…. PSYCH, the story changes here because before you can bury the puppy, it decides to leave you. Let’s cue up some rage:
But you didn’t have to cut me off / Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing / And I don’t even need your love / But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough.
You might see the point of this already. Although I’m confused now about whether the song is about a girl or a puppy. Both can be quite cuddly I guess. Just kidding, it was about a puppy the whole time.
Do you see? We used the puppy metaphor on purpose because Gotye is singing about a object he owns, not a person who’s chosen to be with him. An object has no agency—if you aren’t getting the feelings you want from an object, you replace it because you are the one who decides. The object doesn’t get to decide, and when it violates your ego, it better watch the fuck out. You are the main character in your life movie; all others are supportive side-kicks at best.
Now, let’s dump Gotye’s slow-cooked crock of narcissistic horseshit onto Kimbra the New Zealander girl.
Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over / But had me believing it was always something that I’d done / But I don’t wanna live that way / Reading into every word you say
Sorry, I don’t want to be mean to Kimbra, but there’s still a strong undercurrent of narcissistic control here. Remember the addiction to a certain kind of sadness? Third verse, same as the first. Now, I get that our guy Gotye is a controlling dick in a beta-male suit, but for a girl who believes it was always something that she’s done… isn’t Gotye exactly the kind of guy she’d be with?
Okay, in other words (similar to Gotye), this is not Kimbra’s first attempt to explain her relationships via her sadness addiction. Gotye uses his sadness (and the scars therein) to explain a situation that may be completely unlike his previous relationship(s). And it fits precisely with Kimbra’s version of sadness that she also addictively uses to explain her previous relationship(s). It’s pretty convenient, you know, but it’s not love—it’s symbiotic narcissism.
It’s not that things can’t work out—there’s barely any mention of an actual human relationship here at all, but maybe there can be later. The problem isn’t their circumstances or personalities or that they need to (fuck me in the ear) “work on their relationship” Dr. Phil style.
The problem is themselves. They haven’t even gotten to the stage of love when Dr. Phil could help. They haven’t even really grown beyond being self-centered preteens. “Damn it, why are you so mean to me?!” said no one over 30 ever. Oh wait, you’re telling me 30 is the new 13? Now I get it.
Not that I blame their parents, but being raised into narcissism by the Dumbest Generation of Narcissists in the History of the World sure does feel rough. Never was one generation so helicoptered and copiloted by their parents. What is a Millennial young person to do when their parents organized their whole lives as though kiddo is the center of the universe?
Might be that a lot of relationships for you are like the relationship between a person (you) and an accessory you’ve chosen for your life—like a puppy, or a girlfriend. Or a child. But let’s not blame your parents—once you’re done with college they become somebody that you used to know, too.
It’s definitely not even close to being love, it’s symbiotic narcissism.