After much consideration, I chose to review “Explosions” by Ellie Goulding. She is not a Christian artist, but she is popular in today’s culture and it seems wise to understand the music we listen to.
The song starts with a cappella voices that sound very much like they were recorded on a record. There is a melancholic feel that fits perfectly with the theme of the song. This whole song is about the memory of an ended relationship: she is reminiscing about a man she thought she loved. Here are the lyrics to the first verse:
“You trembled like you’d seen a ghost, and I gave in.
I lack the things you need the most, you said where have you been.
You wasted all that sweetness to run and hide. I wonder why
I remind you of the days you poured your heart into, but you never tried.
I’ve fallen from grace, took a blow to my face.
I’ve loved and I’ve lost. I’ve loved and I’ve lost.”
He is trembling because he saw something from his past that he thought was over. This girl that he sees reminds him of a past relationship, and he never tried to pour his heart into this relationship because he is afraid. He hurts her in the process because he is not mature enough to commit to her; the pain is so intense that she equates it with a physical injury.
The chorus is short but says a lot:
“Explosions on the day you wake up
Needing somebody and you’ve learned it’s ok to be afraid
But it will never be the same. But it will never be the same.”
The explosions when he wakes up refers to an awakening of sorts. He realizes that his life is shattered from a past experience and needs that one special person. But he hasn’t quite learned that it is alright to be afraid: this causes him to run away. The next verse and chorus give a little more insight into what happened:
“You left my soul bleeding in the dark so you could be king.
The rules you set are still untold to me and I’ve lost faith in everything.
The nights you could cope, your intentions were gold.
But the mountains will shake. I need to know I can still make
Explosions on the day you wake up.
Needing somebody and you’ve learned it’s okay to be afraid.
But it will never be the same.”
He left her soul in the dark because he was being selfish. He wasn’t thinking of her and again she equates the feeling to physical pain. His “rules” were abstract and unclear: she didn’t know what he wanted or what he was doing. This caused her to be insecure because the relationship was unstable. On the days when he could cope (meaning he could deal with the threat of commitment), he proved to be a tender, loving gentleman. The shaking mountains symbolize the ground under his feet moving out from underneath him: even though he is able to be mature occasionally, it isn’t enough to bind the relationship together. This time, the word “explosions” refers the passion between them. She wants to know that there is still a mutual fire burning in them. She knows that he needs someone there for him even if he is afraid of the relationship. But he still hasn’t learned that it is ok to be afraid: he still cannot trust her. And that is why it will never be the same.
Here is the bridge:
“As the floods move in, and your body starts to sink
I was the last thing on your mind: I know you better than you think.
Cause it simple darling. I gave you a warning.
Now everything you own is falling from the sky in pieces.
So watch them fall with you in slow motion.
I pray that you’ll find peace of mind.
I’ll find you another time. I’ll love you, another time.”
The floods are symbolic of the end of this relationship: the weight of all the conflict has finally come crashing down on him and he begins to sink. As soon as this starts to happen, he realizes what he had and how great it was. The old adage “You never know what you have until you lose it,” is very applicable here. She tried to warn him about this outcome, but it is too late now. His life is shattered and it is crashing down around him. It is as if his life is flashing before his eyes in slow motion: everything he thought was good just can’t compare to this woman that he just lost. Even though she has been hurt by him, she still wants him to find peace. She wants him to resolve the conflict in his life so he can begin to trust again. But she realizes that he needs some time to do this so she lets him go and says she will find him again at a later time. She will even love him again, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be a romantic love: she will simply forgive him for the pain he caused.
Finally, the chorus is repeated:
“Explosions on the day you wake up.
Needing somebody and you’ve learned it’s ok to be afraid.
But it will never be the same.”
This time, the explosions when he wakes up is referring to the realization that washes over him each morning: the realization that he has lost one of the best things in his life. He finally understands that he needs that special someone and even that he needs to trust them, but it is too late. His chance with her is gone. But I hope that he remembers this in his next relationship; it would certainly be less painful.