Lady GaGa, Florence + The Machine, and Emotional Truth

If you are a fan of Florence + The Machine, you know that her lyrics rival even her earth-shattering voice. Which is why, when I was reading a blurb about her upcoming concert at Central Park Summer Stage, I had to laugh at her oversimplication of the themes in her songs: although much has been read into her lyrics, Florence says it’s usually simple. “Everything is about boys!” she laughs.

But wait a minute, Lady GaGa songs are about boys. She even has one titled "Boys, Boys, Boys." (In case the lyrics weren't obvious enough.)

Well, they both sing about boys. So what makes one art versus...not?

Emotional truth. In short, Flo uses it, GaGa not so much. GaGa is more of a "say exactly what I mean" kind of girl, which is what makes her so enjoyable when you're 2 glasses of champagne into the evening and dancing is more appealing than interpreting metaphors.

But from a writer-worship standpoint, Flo rules. Let's look at an example:

Florence says: A kiss with a fist is better than none
Florence means: Even though this relationship is destructive to me, it's better than not being in the relationship at all

GaGa says: I like you a lot, lot, think you're really hot, hot
GaGa means: I like you a lot, lot, think you're really hot, hot

GaGa just goes ahead and says the simple, literal truth. She thinks the boy is hot and she likes him. No interpretation necessary.

Florence gets to the emotional truth; meaning, instead of coming out and saying the relationship is hurting her, she uses a visceral metaphor of the fist to demonstrate it.

The lesson here? Say what you mean without actually saying it. Now if I can only find a way to artfully apply that to my own writing...


  1. One of the amazing things about Florence, I find, is how deceiving the actual music is. I remember telling a friend how dark her lyrics could be and they didn't understand...they kept saying "but the music is so up beat." Then you listen to the actual words and it's almost shocking. "Howl" and "Rabbit Heart" are the less obvious while "my boy builds coffins" is the perfect example.

  2. dog fears hedgehog. this is not dixie. http://comedy.video.yahoo.com/?l=3774740&v=8738591