Behind the Lyrics - Evanescence
Welcome to "Behind the Lyrics" with Elise Chandler. Each week, I find a song that I feel is understated both musically and lyrically, and I analyze it through several critical lenses.
This week, I thought we'd look at the band Evanescence. The operatic vocals paired with a darker, harder sound have captured listeners since the band first broke out on the music scene with the hit "Bring Me to Life", but it is often these faster-paced songs that grab the "mainstream" society while many of their other songs do not get recognized for the lyrical talent they display.
The song that we are analyzing is "Hello" off of the album -- Fallen -- which hit the music scene in 2003. Amy Lee -- the lead vocalist for this band -- has gone on record saying that this song is in remembrance of a sister who died at the age of three. With this being said, there is no mystery to solve on what the song is about; however, that doesn't mean that we can't appreciate how she chooses to do this and stay true to her "goth metal" sound that so many critics labeled the band as.
Here are the lyrics to "Hello" by Evanescence:
Playground school bell rings again Rain clouds come to play again Has no one told you she's not breathing? Hello, I am your mind giving you someone to talk to Hello If I smile and don't believe Soon I know I'll wake from this dream Don't try to fix me, I'm not broken Hello, I am the lie living for you so you can hide Don't cry Suddenly I know I'm not sleeping Hello, I'm still here All that's left of yesterday
What I think is important to note is that so many critics were both fans and haters of Evanescence's sound. They loved Lee's vocals, but were not sure why the music had to have such a dark meaning or sound to it. Others loved her clear, beautiful vocals paired with the dark message because it showed the beauty that often hides within the saddest parts of our lives. However, it takes a special person to be able to see that.
This song is short, to the point, but it is also so vague that it could easily be misinterpreted. However, it is here where the beauty truly lies. Lee crafted symbolic, emotional memories to weave together her story of loss. It does not matter what her sibling died of, we are getting a look at the disjointed thoughts of someone trying to deal with loss. You can't explain it to someone who has never suffered or lost; you must rely on yourself.
Hence, she talks to her "mind", creates elaborate "lies" to hide her pain behind, and in the final stanza, we see that she comes to a realization in her grief...a bittersweet one. She is all that remains of her sibling's memory. Because of this, she must stay awake and carry on her memory. This is all paired with a very somber, stripped-down piano backing her woeful lyrics.
Evanescence, in my humble opinion, is one of the most under-rated bands because they can so easily be overlooked or judged based on their darker image. However, if you look at their lyrics and the pure emotion Lee dedicates to all of her work, you can find a pure, musical talent that can't help but be heard. Until next time.