I’m back! Sorry, Chris Latham needs a break after his amazing 3-part run of his IDKMN in-depth analysis. In anticipation of Grace’s big news that she keeps hinting at, I decided to continue our Lyrical Grace series with a fan favourite. It’s a song that was never officially released due to its controversial lyrics. Please watch this video taken from Grace’s AGT Las Vegas show way back in October 2016 when she was still just 12 years old. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re in for a wonderful surprise. I give you “12 Stars”…
I know, right?…
Grace’s most controversial song yet, but also one of the first she ever wrote.
It’s a very moving song, but also a disturbingly jarring one. It has one of the loveliest melodies yet written by Grace, and as performed in her Las Vegas show it *was mesmerizing.
That she wrote such a song at age 12 is staggering. She speaks of feelings that few people who haven’t been in an unhealthy romantic relationship could even dream of expressing, but dreamt those feelings she did. Grace explored them with such delicate fidelity that the listener is lulled into a trance only to be shaken to the core by the literally violent chorus; lyrics so intense that I presume we will never hear the studio recorded version she laid down with her producer Greg Wells when the two were recording her EP “Perfectly Imperfect”.
Grace has said on many occasions that she based the song on inspiration from a movie (The Hunger Games specifically), and you can see a connection if you’re familiar with the book or film, but Grace created something far more somber and down to earth in her song.
First, let’s review the lyrics in whole before breaking it down further…
“They drifted away,
but she wants him to stay,
even though she knows his feelings will never change,
she waits and she waits, just to hear her name,
and those three words that mean everything,
but deep down she’s aware that,
that’s something she’ll never really hear,
and deep down she’s aware that that’s something that’ll never reach her ears
So go ahead and kill me,
as long as he is safe,
and go ahead and shoot me as long as I can see his face,
when I’m gone.
She sees his face, every day,
and maybe one day he’ll say that I’ve always felt “that” way,
but deep down she’s aware that, that’s not something she would ever really hear,
and deep down she’s aware that that’s not something that’ll ever reach her ears,
So and go ahead and kill me, as long as he is safe,
go ahead and shoot me, as long as I can see his face,
when I’m gone.
When I’m gone.
When I’m gone.”
When I break down lyrics, especially when officially released lyrics aren’t provided by the artist, I listen to the song at half speed to ensure I’m hearing the words correctly. Normally, that’s somewhat of an ordeal as vocals are destroyed by this process; words sound like they’re being spoken in a drunken stupor, all nuance and tempo are lost; the feeling of the song is destroyed. That wasn’t so in this case… if anything the slower pace only accentuated just how much feeling and care Grace put into every syllable, the nuances of her voice, and the choices she makes are incredible for someone with virtually no experience (at that time). If you have a few minutes go ahead and give it a listen at that speed, it’s like peeking behind the curtain to see a whole new world than what you thought was there before.
Enough procrastination, let’s get into this.
“They drifted away,
but she wants him to stay,”
Wow…so simple, but gut-wrenching. You can feel the heartache and longing right from the first lines, but she doesn’t resort to hyperbole or melodrama, just a simple statement that conveys what it feels like to have that person you’ve fallen in love with, right or wrong, reciprocated or not, leave you, if even for only a few hours or a day. Here Grace is vague with the timeline, leaving it to the listener to project their own insecurities and fears; has “he” left for good, the night, finished his shift at work, gotten off the school bus? Grace is a master of knowing how to use negative lyrical space to paint a picture in her listeners’ imaginations.
“even though she knows his feelings will never change,”
With that next line she further fleshed out the tale of her subject’s longing: it is a one-way love affair after all. “She” is aware of the impossibility of anything ever coming from her love for “him”.
“she waits and she waits, just to hear her name,”
Grace is twelve at the writing of this song, but she knows the power that someone you’ve fallen in love with has over you at the mere mention of your name; how it can thrill you to your core, cause you to shake with a mix of anxiety, elation, and joy.
“and those three words that mean everything,”
So subtle the delivery and careful wordplay in that line: “the three words that mean everything”, the three words that can make you feel like you’re not alone in this world, that someone cares and will be there for you, that everything is going to be okay…
“but deep down she’s aware that,
that’s something she’ll never really hear,”
That is such a devastating line… “she” will never feel that comfort, caring, and security from “him”, and that she knows it, and that she seems to have accepted it is crushing.
“and deep down she’s aware that that’s something that’ll never reach her ears”
With that line Grace is gently pouring salt in the emotional wound she’s opened up in the listener, especially if the listener has gone through such a torturous one-sided love. It’s cruel, but done so sweetly and delicately. What follows is neither delicate nor subtle, and Grace chose to do this, chose to stab the listener in the chest with her full weight; leans into the blade as it enters your chest.
“So go ahead and kill me,”
She had the listener in the palm of her hand, had them sympathizing with her protagonist, but Grace isn’t satisfied with the emotional journey she’s taking her audience on so far, she wants to really shake them to the core and does this several ways with just six short and simple words.
Grace is stating plainly by the use of “So”, a proclamation of resignation… because of all that was revealed what will follow is accepted by the protagonist. “Go ahead and kill me”, this is melodrama, yes, but it’s also very realistic, but a subtle change has happened with this line beyond the call for violence… “she” has suddenly become “me”. We realize that Grace has been speaking of herself this entire time. It’s a horrible image she suddenly slaps the listener in the face with, and follows it up with an entirely dysfunctional plea…
“as long as he is safe,”
It makes us want to shout to her that “his” love isn’t worth sacrificing her life. It angers us that she has allowed herself to be so affected by his lack of interest in her. We want to simultaneously shake her and hold her, console her, anything to keep her from wanting such a terrible end to escape her feelings.
The flip side of this interpretation is that in the movie and book the characters are at risk of being killed constantly and are often given the opportunity to sacrifice themselves for one another, but I believe Grace has abandoned adapting the movie at this point and is fleshing out her own and far more interesting narrative.
“and go ahead and shoot me as long as I can see his face,”
More pleas for violence against not a faceless protagonist, but Grace herself, and more emotional self-flagellation and pathetic demonstrations of a lack of self-worth. As long as she can see “his” face she’ll gladly face death. Grace then turns the screw even tighter with a very plainly stated… “When I’m gone”
More resignation, more depression, more self-pitying, made all the worse by the lack of sadness with which she delivers the line.
We’re only halfway through the song and Grace isn’t done with us yet.
I’ll let you take a breather, go for a walk, get some fresh air, feel the sun on your skin and have a nice cold beverage of your choice before we entertain the rest of Grace’s savage emotional beat-down… tomorrow
To be continued…
This article was first posted on VanderVault’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XydnaaaaSnE&lc=Ugx5wiBKnJmorZN1FFl4AaABAg