Tuesday, December 3, 2013


I'm going to take a moment here, and do something I haven't really done since college. I'm going to do a textual analysis of this song.  Its much harder to do on a laptop. I'd really rather ink up a paper physically with notes, but It needs to be done, its fun to do, and I'm gonna give it my best shot.

 A friend and I were just commenting to each other on the Top Six performances on the voice, when Katy Perry's "Unconditionally' came into our discussion. I love it, She hates it.  and Then we started talking about what Unconditional love means to us each, and we disagreed, just like we disagreed about the song.  She had to go, don't worry it ended on friendly terms ;) but  I really wanted to rip this song apart and give my full thoughts on it. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts as well.

  The intro to this song, is a pulse, like a heart beat.  That is important, because its about love, and love and the heart are symbolically linked.  Its not a fast beat ,but a slow calm pulse, because its not lust, its not passion, its deeper and steadier, and solid.

 The lyrics start, and Katy continues that steady, calm, and deliberate pace with her words:
Oh/no, did-I-get-to /close?-
Oh/ did-I-almost/ see/ whats /really-on-the-inside?
(music speeds up a bit, and begins to build.)
All /you/ insecurities
All/ the-dirty/ laun/dry
Ne/ver/ made-me/ blink-one/ time.

So one of the points my friend brought up to me, which really increased my interest in this song, and I said almost the same thing, it has an awkward rhythm to it, it pauses words in funny places. This starts right from the beginning. I have denoted pauses with a / and when words were run together with a -. If i had paper, i may even spend some more time on inflections and such, but as it is, I'm not in the mood to analyze syllables per verse and the like, so I will just point out a few things I find intriguing from this rhythm.

  It is AWKWARD.  so specifically with the lyrics in this song, and not a general discussion of unconditional love, this is a person, likely in the beginnings of a romantic relationship, but I think it would also apply nicely to a friendship, or even a child learning to trust their parents. you know, there are various stages when children don't just trust their parents, and they have to learn if they do love them unconditionally or not.

This is that awkward and truly vulnerable moment when someone is trying to open up, or create an atmosphere where someone can feel safe and open up. At and addiction recover meeting, this would be that moment when someone is trying to decided if its safe, and if they can tell their story.

  its interesting that the music speeds up when it gets to insecurities, and dirty laundry. Its still a pulse, a heart beat, but its faster, its nervous, its slightly scared and unsure. It needs reassurance. Its not there yet, but I may be there for real soon. Its about to be tested- that unconditional love that the singer is claiming to feel.  I also feel like the pauses are a moment of reflection, for the person saying it to sincerely reflect and mean UNCONDITIONAL.

 At this point the music really opens up and becomes almost an anthem, its passionate, its a pledge.
The heart beat  seems to drop out, then come back in, almost chariots of fire marathon runner style.

I-will/ love-you/ Un/con/dition/al/ly
Let-go-and-just-be /free
I/will/ love-you/ Un/con/dtionally.

The way unconditionally/ unconditional is broken up, is probably the most awkward part of the song. This is the part my friend and I debated.  To her, unconditional love should be smooth, and flowing.  I think it has its smooth natural flowing moments in life, just as it almost has in this song (the last one of the verse is less broken up.)  But this is where I had to pause for thought, because I disagreed. I think the strongest loves, unconditional loves,  are met with fiercest oppositions, and moments of conflicts,  they are honest about that, but they love so strongly, that even if there is a stutter in the step, they still stick with it, they are always willing to work through the conflict, or the heart break.

 for example. The most unconditional love I know of- The Savior. And the greatest act of that love of all time- The atonement.  now, maybe you will say that the atonement is conditional upon our accepting that sacrifice. It was offered and paid for regardless if we accept it. Our saviors love, and his sacrifice are unconditional. but just like an unopened gift, if we don't accept and open it, it doesn't do us much good, it doesn't change the fact that its there, and has the power to overcome anything. And that moment, was it smooth, and flowing? NO. it was met with "let this cup pass from me, but never the less.. If thou wilt, I will drink it up." Did that moment of conflict in any way diminish from that unconditional love? NO. He loved us enough to proceed even though a part of him didn't want to.

Another example. A parent and a child. I'm not a parent. But I have never seen a parent that loved their child that didn't have a moment of frustration or heart break. Why do parents love their children and not give up on them, and make hard choices for them- because they love them, unconditionally.

I wont go into dating examples, I'm not qualified. But I will say I have friendships that I would say I love my friends unconditionally. There is nothing they can ever do to not be my friend, though it may cause me and or them pain for a while, and be something we have to work thorough, it may change dynamics a bit, but  nope. They will always be my friend. More on that in the next verse though.

Back to the chorus. Its important here, where the brakes are, and where they aren't.  let go and just be free. is all said in one breath. no awkward pauses, no breaths, it is smooth and flow .this is that moment when unconditional love does that. but it requires trust and vulnerability to get there, and it is freeing from the awkward pauses and hesitations earlier.
   the pauses in un con ditional ally change. they emphasize different things. Un con ditiona al. it is unconditional. this is for emphases i believe, but it also builds to the freedom that comes in trusting.   unconditionally is a different word, separate word, in the next verse, but it comes from the same root as unconditional.  to emphasis it is in fact unconditional, and an adjective describing how you are going to be loved.

The music slows back down to the reassuring pulse right here.  The person is not quite convinced of the singers unconditional love yet, and it takes time to build that trust. Moments of excitement can't be continuous in life, that would be exhausting, and one needs time to think rationally, not just in the excitement of the chorus.

vs 2

come/ just /as-you/are-to-me
Don't/ need/ A/polo/gies
I'll-Take/ your/bad-days-with-your/good
I-do/it-all-because-I-love you
I Love you.

There is still the stuttering pace here, but its a bit less awkward, more words roll together, except the apologies and worthy lines, where we are being reassured again.  there is increasing freedom and flow by the end of it all, by the proclamation of that love.  This is clearly speaking at someone who questions their worth, their love ability.  they are awkward about opening up, hesitant about being rejected.

 The pauses are reassuring, they say, hey I'm not going to pace this faster than you can handle, we can take this at your natural pace, and I am going to truly love you no matter what, even when you have crazy days, Don't apologize for being you,for being awkward or for being human, that is how you are, and I love all of you, even the awkward, even the bad days.
 its interesting how much I'll take your bad days flows together, and then the walk through the storm is choppy, because that's how it is when you walk through a storm, its rough. its hard to get through, its a bit forced and pushed at times, but you do it, you keep going out of love and devotion, and then when that storm is over, you have the freedom to enjoy that unconditional love, that just survived something crazy and lived to tell the tale.

the music builds again to the fast free flowing pace. the choppy is over, it ended, kind of naturally, but also with labor, as is life and getting through its challenges with someone you love. My friends have taught me this, I think. because we have bad days sometimes, and its choppy, but we pull each other through it, and then we feel happy again and free, but sometimes with momentary stutters.

Chorus repeats as before. I don't thing there is much change to it, just building on what you already know. slightly less awkward pauses this time. unconditional love grows, it isn't built in a day, and the storms of life make it stronger and deeper, but that doesn't come without effort.

so open-up- your- heart/ and /just /let /it /begin
op/en -up- your/ heart /and/ just /let/ it /begin
open- up-your/ heart-and/ just /let /it/ begin
open- up- your -heart.

its choppy, and ends up in a free flowing phrase, emphasizing that transition into trust and love from fear and hesitation. but there is less hesitations than before.

Its the awkward steps into trust and freedom. and then She is human and has doubts too, so it goes back to the slow pace, but not for long. trust is a difficult two way thing. you risk tears when you open up, if you don't question that you will risk that pain, you are not being honest in your unconditional love.  Acceptance, of your self, of others, that is the key to be free. but its scary to let go and do that, but when we do, we feel much more free.

Accep/tance/ is-the/key/to-be
will-you/ do/ the-same/ for-me?

Now the pace stays free, fast, and flowing because that trust has truly been built, the love is now truly unconditional, and the pauses are less emphasised here, though they continue to exist, because hard moments and tests of your unconditional love never truly go away, but you can learn to push through them faster.

That is my thoughts on this song, and what it means, and why it is all awkward and choppy like that. by the end, its built to almost no choppiness, but there is still hard moments to work through, even though opening up has made you so much more free than in the beginning. and the music has lost that slow pulse and is now heading on to triumphant glory, like an Olympic sprinter.