Miles Beining provides us with his first entry in our “Lyrical Grace” series, and he did a terrific job. There will, however, be one point of controversy regarding his review. The line ”The whole crowd seems to like me now, ‘cause now they think I’m cool but back when I was in school”. Miles hears it as “Cause now I think I’m cool, but back when I was in school”. It forms a crucial part of his analysis. I (Mark Lalonde) am not going to deny or deride his interpretation, however, as I have also gone against canon (the lyrics as they appear on Grace’s website), because, quite frankly, I don’t agree with what’s listed on her site much of the time, i.e. “City Song” lists “Fresh like concrete” rather than the obviously true lyric “Fresh laid concrete”. In other words, hear him out…Like Billy Joel sings; “You may be wrong but for all I know, you may be right.” – Mark Lalonde
I LOVE the song “So Much More Than This.” It’s one of the very few straight up pop songs that I thoroughly enjoy. Not only are the lyrics sharp and well honed, but the beat is beyond enticing, the delivery flawless, and the general sound just awesome for the ears (especially with headphones, and dance playback on Spotify). I was coming up with a list for a different article I’ll write later, when I started thinking about the meaning behind this fantastic pop anthem, and realized I was formulating a Lyrical Grace in my head. Without further ado, I began to write:
We all know the general theme of “So Much More Than This” is to be carefree, love life, stop being distracted by everything and not give an f what people think, but what exactly does the “this” in SMMTT mean? What does it encapsulate? What is there so much more than? Let’s take a closer look:
The tune begins with a few well chosen notes from a guitar, which sets the vibe nicely, and is followed by the as always, carefully crafted lyrics of Grace VanderWaal (with help from writers, who sharpen her lyrics and produce her music, but don’t actually WRITE her songs, to the best of my knowledge):
Sit right here, chill, level low
Close your eyes and just let it flow
Grace invites you to sit next to her, chill, and level down (I take this to mean stop going crazy about the outside world), close your eyes and let it flow. What is “it” you ask? “It” is almost indescribable, but I’ll do my best: Grace is speaking of energy, not hyperactive, high on coffee energy, but force energy, or as the Chinese call it, Chi. Let your energy flow, let yourself be at peace, be at peace with the world. Listening to her words, you begin to meditate under her guidance.
Right next to me I hear your heartbeat, beat
When the dial turns up and the music starts playing
Grace is observing you as you breathe in and out, struggling to be at peace and let everything flow, and everything is so quiet that she hears your heart beating.
Then she does something unexpected: she turns on some music.
Music?! I want silence when I meditate! Not music! Why music?! I don’t care if this is my favorite song, turn it off!
Calm down, you’ll see why.
We don’t realize in this society
Doesn’t matter how your hair looks, so what they are thinking
Just, just what we are finding
Grace begins to speak about how most don’t realize that it doesn’t matter what people think about superficial stuff, it’s all B.S. This is just what we (meaning either the two of you, or perhaps the world) are finding out now.
Finally, Grace offers an explanation for the music:
Tap your foot and listen in
Ignore the world, let the music cave in
At last, you understand! The music is part of the meditation, for how many artforms bring out so much emotion, yet don’t require you to be in a non-meditative state, as do movies, books and others? The music flows as you flow, and you ignore the world, and let the music become a part of you, and you a part of the music.
Then she tells us all how to fully let yourself go:
Close your phone and breathe in the air
You’ll soon realize that there’s something that is
So much more than this
It is what it is
She tells how there is so much more than just the busy world of business, internet, drama, media, news and our everyday lives, involving the “What’s for lunch?” “When is the meeting?” and “How far is the store from here?” mentality.
She informs you that life is what it is, and that you can change it for the better….or perhaps she is referring to the “it” I mentioned earlier, and is saying that “it” is what life is. This is perhaps the most mysterious line in the song, as it seems out of context, yet so in place.
The song continues with a great bridge containing a whole lot of computerized “Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh”’s, driving home the point that music is the ultimate expression of the soul, and is a holy experience. Then the song shifts tone and Grace begins to tell you her own story:
The whole crowd seems to like me now
‘Cause I think I’m cool but back when I was in school
They found it very easy to hate me
Funny how always these times are changing
Back then it was so easy to shatter
But now in the end it doesn’t really matter
Here’s a line that fools people, and fooled me until I started writing this: “The whole crowd seems to like me now ’cause I think I’m cool.” Notice that VanderWaal doesn’t say “‘cause they think I’m cool,” but “I’m cool.” Her own acceptance, confidence and love of herself she learned to have made people think she was cool, not just because of her success as a budding music star. Her message is to love yourself and be yourself, that’s when you’ll draw people in.
Back when she was in school though, (keep in mind, she wrote this while still being homeschooled), people found it easy to hate her, because she didn’t have the extraordinary confidence she has now. She says it’s funny how the times always change so drastically, and how much she’s grown. Back then, it was so easy for her to shatter, but now in the end, it doesn’t really matter what people think.
After she repeats the “tap your foot” part in a different tone, and then sings the chorus, Grace launches into the final verse:
All of the talk, and the talk from ya
Won’t even matter when the lights come up
All of the talk, and the talk from ya, hey
All of the judgemental talk you hear from others, and from yourself won’t even matter when…what does “lights come up” mean? Hmmm….it could mean “when you achieve all your dreams,” or perhaps “when you finally stop caring what people think” or maybe she’s referring to the end of it all: death, and how when you leave this life, what people thought about you superficially or judgmentally will no longer matter to anyone anway.
Open your eyes and just wake up
Do all the things that will matter to ya
Open your eyes and just wake up, woah
Grace leaves you with one last lesson: open your eyes and wake up to the reality that caring what others think is stupid and meaningless. Do ALL the things that matter to you, regardless of what people say. Woah, your life just changed, she comments.
This is followed by another pre-chorus and chorus, then she concludes by driving these points home:
So much more than this (there is so much more than the everyday world.)
It is what it is (Whatever that means, pick an explanation from above)
So much more than this (don’t forget this!)
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh (music is key, music is magic.)
In the music video, Grace reopens her eyes from her meditation in the woods, and laughs at her newfound happiness as she returns to everyday life. And just like in the video, you too wake up from the trance Grace led you through, and see the world with new eyes.
This song changed my life. The first time I heard it, I got the general message and began to do my best to live by it, and right away, I started being less anxious, stressed and befuddled. Now, writing this analysis has changed me even more, as I now have a broader understanding of what Grace means by this song. I love SMMTT ten times more now, and I thank Grace for spreading her wisdom with us all. The beauty of this song is that it can also be taken to mean a million other things as well.
Thank you all for reading this, and I hope you enjoyed, and maybe had a life-changing moment or two like I did along the way.
For more stuff written by me, check out @milestriespoems on Instagram or @BeiningMiles on Twitter, or to see my videos, go to YouTube (I’m posting Japan vlogs right now!), or for even more Insta action, my main account @milesbeining. I also have a Snapchat, but I never post on it. I announced a short film I’m directing recently as well, so stay tuned for that, it comes out this fall.
Now if you will excuse me, I have to go listen to “So Much More Than This” a thousand more times.
This article was first posted on VanderVault’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Yfl9ID8F0g&lc=Ugz2_I8V1ws731iRgKR4AaABAg