Watch the video: https://youtu.be/qcCH6JpcK5w
The ubiquity of the phrase “I like all kinds of music… except country,” feels like it has been both growing and shrinking in popularity. Well, classic country. The real reason I think this phrase has so much power isn’t because country is a bad genre of music. All genres have good and bad song, but instead that country is chronically behind the times. You can’t tell me it’s not a coincidence that it took almost 30 years for the first country rap song to take off. Similarly Parmalee’s Carolina is clearly just a early 2000s rock song in sheep’s clothing. This isn’t a negative, just a descriptor. Country music has other strengths, I mean King of Tears is one of the best Revisionist History episodes for a reason. They can also do women scorned songs better than any other genre imaginable, and tie that do a song that sounds like it was recorded by Katy Perry in her good years, well…
I Hope, though defiantly a woman scorned song, is not the best. That’s not to say it is bad. It’s actually quite refreshing to have a fairly conventional song to listen to once in a while. It’s just not as detailed or vicious as the classics. No keying an ex’s car or puncturing their tires on this go around.
Some of this more restrained feeling goes back to the beat. It has undertones of classic country guitar and instrumentals mixed with the production of early 2010s pop music to create a nice enough sounding song that is carried on Gabby Barret’s fantastic voice. Charlie Puth’s higher octaves also for compelling backing tracks and a strong contrast to mix up the song.
But for a women scorned song it certinally has a very interesting title. The lyrics definitely help build the case. The first, and arguably best, verse does the most work. It sets up an interesting bait to switch. The “I Hope,” in this case being positives. Almost like she is wishing the new relationship wells lines like “I, I hope she makes you smile/The way you made me smile on the other end of a phone/In the middle of a highway driving alone,” are incredibly visceral and give a good scene that is flipped when we get to the chorus.
The chorus makes up the switch of the bait and switch when it’s revealed what she really hopes is, “I hope she’s wilder than your wildest dreams/She’s everything you’re ever gonna need/And then I hope she cheats.” Which is an incredibly interesting wish. One I have never really heard before from a breakup. It’s given more context however when she follows it up with, “Like you did on me.” Which does hit really hard.
That suggestion of being passive. Sitting in your own hatred and brooding for the bad to happen is defiantly unique. It’s not as exhilarating as smashing up someone’s car, but is just as destructive if it comes to fruition.
The second verse, done by Puth, positions him as a man who was cheated on and has his own anger. His opening lines, “Yeah, babe, I hope she shows up in a 2 AM pic from her friend/Hanging on to a guy and you just ain’t him/I hope you stay up all night all alone, waitin’ by the phone,” are not as immediate, but does reveal a jealousy not nearly as present in the first verse. The use of waiting by the phone is an interesting phrase that’s still around considering all of us are on our phones all the time. Its not like we are pinning by a landline and telling our sibling to get off the internet so you could get a call (totally not a real example).
The second verse is more vicious however, not in any explicit terms. But in the same creeping way. The final lines that lead into the chorus, “And take her on a first date again/And when you lean in for a kiss,” though don’t sound bad, do feel like the twist in Frozen. You’re about to be happy only for the other person to reveal they’re cheating or don’t have feelings in that way.
The best example of this song’s energy is the bridge, “I hope what goes comes all the way around/I hope she makes you feel the same way about her/That I feel about you right now.” It gets to the heart of what it feels like when an ex moves on before they should. It’s short but hits that same feeling. A feeling that hits harder if you were cheated on.
The video, which is of the songs original release and not this remixes duet with Charlie Puth has Gabby reflecting on a past relationship while clips of said relationship are played back. It, like the songs structure, is fairly conventional. The one change is that Gabby sings the second verse and chorus and it feels disconnected from the nighttime drive setup of the first verse. Not bad, but works better with that second person to act as the shift in setting.
When it comes to songs like these is it selfish to want more details. Like many songs on the hot 100, it is incredibly surface level lyrically speaking. Sometimes that works okay. Savage Love, for its couple lyrical issues is great and is shallow, but a breakup/woman scorned song should have more. The chorus works well enough, but it seems like we should know more about the relationship. It’s almost like she’s using cheating as a crutch to disregard the rest of the relationship. Not to victim blame, but there must be more of a story and that is something older country songs definitely would have provided.
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