Monday, March 2, 2015

baby love me 'cause I'm playing on the radio

I think I wanted to taste blood in my mouth that time when my high school debate coach told me—and looked me in the eyes no less—that he didn't expect I would ever do so well in the activity I'd spent two years pouring my heart into. The trophies I held in my hands felt almost as hollow as I did; somehow, it didn't matter anymore that my partner and I were the only ones from our team to break to elimination rounds, or that I was the only one to win a speaker award at the largest tournament in the state that weekend. All I could remember thinking was how I wanted to roll out the map of the known universe I'd won (it was the space exploration topic that year after all) and be anywhere but there.

No one even knows how hard life was / I don't even think about it now because / I've finally found you Lana Del Rey croons in "Radio," the eighth track of Born to Die. This song has a special place in my heart because it was the first song of her's I'd ever listened to back in high school in the months before graduation. The honeyed sweetness of her voice lured me in, but it was the bitterness in the line like a f*cking dream I'm livin' in that made me hit replay. 

American dreams came true somehow / I swore I'd chase until I was dead tells the story of the greatest lie the promised land ever told: happiness is yours if only you work hard enough to deserve it. This is a country forged on the big dreams of determined youth, and you grow up being told you can be anything and everything you ever wanted. But the thing your father forgets to tell you when he says the streets are paved with gold is that once you make it—because you will make it, I promise—you're supposed to leave where you came from behind. 

"Radio" is the song of a woman whose confidence in her newfound fame seeps through the slow sugar venom melody of her path to glory. It's at once unapologetic, arrogant, but also surprisingly fragile. While she's not ashamed of her ambition, only she knows how far she had to come to get to where she is now. Part of the game of success is that you don't let people know how hard you worked to win—you have to make them think it came to you effortlessly; you have to remind them that you made it against all odds, no thanks to them. How do you like me now? she whispers, challenging everyone who told her no. 

And yet, it's the line baby love me 'cause I'm playing on the radio that betrays the vulnerability of it all. It could have been posed as a question: baby, do you love me 'cause I'm playing on the radio? but instead it's a command: it demands you for your affection, your admiration, your adoration. Love me because I need to know that I was too good for you. Love me even though you didn't love me then before I got famous; love me because I'm playing on the radio now.

Memories of not being good enough always hits that spot of tenderness where it hurts the most. It doesn't matter that now my life is sweet like cinnamon or even that I've finally found you: there was always that moment of weakness I can neither forget nor change, no matter how hard I try.

xoxo, vivian


  1. such an interessting post ;)

    Lu | loulou

  2. I know the feeling of not being good enough.. it's awful.
    I nominated you for the versatile blogger award! You can find it on my blog!