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Writing About Music (Honors 345A)

This guide features essays written by students as part of the class Writing About Music (Honors 345A, Fall 2018).

"All My Friends" (Jan Silva)

“All My Friends” by Snakehips
Snakehips’ “All My Friends” opens with an organ and immediately sets a tone of mellow reverence. Some electronic elements spring up, such as auto-tuned vocal ad-libs, a drum pad beat, and brief keyboard chords, but the song maintains its character with the continuation of the organ chords. R&B artist Tinashe takes the first verse. Her voice is clear, crisp, and angelic, enlarged by reverberation effects and occasionally supported by vocal harmonies. However, her lyrics are far from reverent. She compares the party lifestyle of modern-day young adults to the animalistic, gaudy atmosphere one would witness at a circus. At the chorus, the song reaches a climax with a choir of voices all singing the same melody. “All my friends are wasted,” Tinashe proclaims. “I hate this club, I drank too much.” Then comes Chance the Rapper’s verse, and his upbeat style of rapping is a refreshing change of pace from Tinashe’s slower, silkier verse. The music breaks down to a simple kick drum and whispers of keyboard flourishes during the bridge, only to come back to the climactic chorus before the song ends with the organ chords that have been consistent throughout the entire song.
Snakehips incorporates juxtaposition in order to keep the track engaging; first, by mixing Tinashe’s smooth, entrancing vocals with Chance’s clever and intricate flow, and second, by infusing the grandiose sounds of choirs and organs with electronic effects. This juxtaposition successfully distracts from the repetitive rhythm and chord progression present throughout the song, save for a couple of moments when the melody cuts out for a while, as if it was taking a breath.
Musically, the song is positive and uplifting. It is mellow, not angry, yet it is also quirky, with Chance’s upbeat verse, shimmering electronic frills, groovy bridge, and reverent choir vocals. However, the lyrics are far from uplifting. They mourn the lifestyle that the narrator and singer is trapped in, and it parallels the idea that parties may seem enchanting and appealing on the outside, but the reality of those parties involve the destructive side effects of drugs and alcohol. “Bitter brown salt, stinging on my tongue now,” Tinashe sings, admitting that experiences of the indulgent party lifestyle more often leave a negative impact than not. “Sure I get lonely, when I’m the only human,” she continues, describing the feeling of being lonely in a crowd. It’s easy to feel alone when everyone around you at a party is having inorganic fun facilitated by drugs and alcohol, instead of naturally connecting with others on a deeper, more conscious level.
This Snakehips track calls for us to be aware of how the rowdy party lifestyle presents itself to be enchanting. However, Chance’s verse offers an escape from the dark reality of party culture, and lines such as “Fridays are for chill and I escaped the treachery” are enlightening manifestos that promise the audience that a wholesome world exists outside of substance culture. As an EDM artist duo, Snakehips is attached to the substance-centered electronic music culture of raves, clubs, and parties. “All My Friends” is significant because, through this track, Snakehips steps back and calls out the harmful culture of their own industry, ultimately advocating for more focus on the music and less focus on getting wasted.

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