Arts & Entertainment, Music, Reviews

Song Spotlight: ‘High’ by 5 Seconds of Summer

When I started this column earlier this semester, I had already planned this article out. I knew I would want to end the semester by talking about my favorite band.

The hard part was choosing the song.

To introduce my final song spotlight of the semester, I’ll give a very brief background on a group that I could write a 40-page paper about. The four-piece, Australian pop-rock band 5 Seconds of Summer — 5SOS for short —formed casually in 2011 posting covers on Youtube. They rose to international fame after opening for One Direction on tour from 2013 to 2015, and have been an obsession of mine for years.

Their debut 2014 single “She Looks So Perfect” rocketed them to success on the charts, and other famous hits of theirs such as “Amnesia,” “Youngblood” and “Easier” followed suit.

“High” is the last song — besides the bonus track — of their most recent album, “CALM.” It’s been my most played song on Spotify for the last six months.

The reason for my obsession with this song comes in different forms. As a fan of theirs since 2014, I can confidently say it’s an amazing progression from their earlier work — an evolution that’s been an absolute pleasure to hear.

I always knew this band could do ballads, but “High” simply blows me out of the water because it’s a ballad mixed with something darker and different.

This song has helped me personally through its lyricism. “Today I called to tell you that I’m changing / but I don’t think you have enough respect to see me try,” summed up my post-breakup haze perfectly, and scribbling it into my journal on nights I felt like I would never move on was therapeutic.

The wordplay in the opening lines, “I hope you think of me high / I hope you think of me highly / when you’re with someone else” is simple but also incredibly thought-provoking. To me it means while you hope someone thinks of you when they’re at the peak of their happiness, you’re also hoping they think the best of you when they’re not with you anymore.

That’s a lot to take away from two sentences.

5 Seconds of Summer on a screen
“High” by 5 Seconds of Summer. The song’s lyricism distinguishes it from typical breakup songs by tapping into the listener’s buried emotions. ILLUSTRATION BY JASMINE LI/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Adding onto its lyricism, “High” isn’t your usual run-of-the-mill breakup song. In a commentary track-by-track special album, Lead singer Luke Hemmings described the song as an “almost narcissistic note to yourself” — it’s wanting someone to be happy, but also wanting them to think of you when they’ve found happiness with someone else.

That note of jealousy and selfishness — while something people usually try to steer away from — is reality, and it’s refreshing. That’s why this song stands out: It brings out emotions we often deny having after a relationship crashes and burns.

In regards to music itself, the instrumentals are very simple with little production. Right from the start of the song, Hemmings’s vocals feel so close to your ear — which is why I recommend using headphones.

The sound of a vinyl cracking in the background, Hemmings’ impeccable vocals, beautiful backing vocals from the other bandmates and the slow guitar chords makes this track the perfect way to end an album that’s quite a chaotic mix of lyrics and accompaniment.

This song has the power to calm me down and to bring out the ugliest cries — exquisite duality. They couldn’t have ended it with a better track.

I chose to highlight this song because of my personal connection with it, its sonic cohesiveness and the pride I have as a fan in the band’s evolution. If they end up performing “High” on their next tour, you will see me at the Boston show with tears in my eyes.

A side note: This band is one of those groups that are much better to listen to live, so if you see that 5SOS are playing a concert in your town, go. Coming from someone who’s been lucky enough to see them live numerous times, I promise it’ll be worth it.

From my professional perspective, “High” is one of 5SOS’s best songs. I’ve shown it to people that have never heard their discography before, and it’s actually encouraged them to listen to other songs of theirs. Take that in any way you deem fitting.

I’ll end with this: I love this band, and I love this song. I hope I’ve convinced someone reading this to check it out. I also hope that this track can serve as a good one to end this semester with. And if you ever want other recommendations or want to geek out about 5SOS with someone, you know who to reach out to.

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