'Lady Wood' Demonstrates Tove Lo's Storytelling Abilities

'Lady Wood' Demonstrates Tove Lo's Storytelling Abilities

Her second concept album is even better than the last.
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Tove Lo is not your average pop star.

The Swedish singer-songwriter shot to the top of the charts with her 2014 international hit “Habits.” The lead single of her debut LP “Queen of the Clouds” found Lo turning to marijuana, strip clubs, and sloppy sex to stay high and forget about her lost love. “Habits” was followed by hits like “Timebomb” and “Moments.”

Lo’s music is hyperpersonal—she sings her experiences exactly as they happened with no sugarcoating nor embellishment. She is not afraid to sing about the ones that have hurt her, and she is not afraid to wear her mistakes for the world to see.

Tove Lo’s latest release, “Lady Wood,” is no exception. Entertainment Weekly’s Madison Vain praised the album’s musical and lyrical content, saying “while Lo's lyrics are stark and intensely personal, the music sounds engineered for the masses.”

What may set Lo apart from other pop starlets of her generation most, however, may not be her brutal honesty, but rather her dedication to telling a story through an album that cohesively ties together into an entire plot. “Queen of the Clouds” was a story of passion, romance, and heartache, and was broken up into three chapters: “The Sex,” “The Love,” and “The Pain.”

“Lady Wood” tells the story of, yes, sex, love, and pain, but is tied together by two major themes: the rush of the high, explored in “Fairy Dust (Chapter 1)”, and the crash, explored in “Fire Fade (Chapter 2).”

I’ve already fallen in love with the album and each of its songs, and I (may) have been able to put together the story Lo is attempting to convey with this emotionally-heavy dance-techno album. The story begins with the sprinkle of fairy dust in the air…


1. Fairy Dust (Chapter I)


"Nobody knows me."

This instrumental track begins with the sound of a match being lit that fades into a slowed-down, atmospheric techno melody that symbolizes the agent by which a high occurs, whether that agent is a controlled substance, adrenaline, or passion. This is where Tove Lo’s high begins.


2. Influence

"Don't trust every word I say... I say..."

In “Influence,” Lo meets the man that will soon become the object of her affection. They are far from sober, but that does not stop them from letting loose and having fun. In the chorus, Lo warns him—and the listener—not to trust anything she says, establishing her as an unreliable narrator in her story… trust her at your own risk.


3. Lady Wood

"I know what people say about you; they say the same about me."

Lo has sobered up, and now she’s looking at her man with clear eyes. The fast-paced song finds Lo acknowledging that the man has a bad reputation, but she doesn’t care—people say the same about her, and she wants him by her side. The title of the song refers to female arousal—he turns her on, and she’s not afraid to tell him.


4. True Disaster



"I fool in love; roll up beside me, and you're just as bad."

“Lady Wood” crossfades right into “True Disaster,” and things are starting to get serious between Lo and her lover. She learns more about him, and it’s clear that things are only going to end with heartache on her end. She knows this, but she entices him to “play her heartstrings faster and faster,” only living in the pleasure of the moment.


5. Cool Girl

"Ice-cold, I roll my eyes at you, boy."

Just as she had anticipated, there is a catch to the dynamic between Lo and her lover; she wants love while he wants no commitment whatsoever. She tries to play it off as no big deal, acting like the “cool girl” that’s into sleeping around and sharing lovers with anyone and everyone. Deep down, she knows that no matter how much she tries to pretend, her feelings are for him and him alone.


6. Vibes (feat. Joe Janiak)

"Feeling so high falling into you..."

It’s too much trying to be the Cool Girl, so Lo gives up and lets herself fall into the man, enjoying the rush that comes with doing so. Here, the listener gets the perspective of the man for the first and only time in the album with Joe Janiak’s verse—he promises to be her “brand new disaster.” Everything feels right, but only for a minute…


7. Fire Fade (Chapter II)

This video contains explicit language and some graphic content.

The second instrumental track finds Lo desperately trying to find her lover. He’s gone, and she can’t find him no matter how hard she looks. She’s lost without him, and she doesn’t know what to do with his disappearance. Here begins Lo’s crash; the high is fading, and she’ll begin spiraling to the ground.


8. Don’t Talk About It

"Don't talk about it -- sweep it under the rug like we do, do."

Tove Lo finds herself back in the same settings as the ones from “Habits,” but this time, she’s not puking in her bathtub—she’s having fun. She’s brought someone else into the mix (a potential lover, a friend, it’s not quite clear) to party with plenty of drinks and money to go around. They can hang with her crowd under one condition: “don’t talk about it…” Don’t mention the pain of “Fairy Dust,” and they’re cool to stay in the clique.


9. Imaginary Friend

"I don't know... I guess it's kinda like a voice in my heart... reminding me that there's nothing to fear in the things I'm afraid of..."

Lo lightens the mood just a little bit by describing how she makes it through the pain of reality: she has a voice in her heart telling her that everything is going to be okay. She begs her imaginary friend to stay with her until it’s all over, and the production of the song leaves the listener almost feeling hopeful for the best.


10. Keep It Simple

"I - ain't - ready... I - ain't - ready..."

Lo is trying to move on from the one that broke her heart in “Fairy Dust,” but she finds it impossible to take a relationship with this new person past sex. She’s haunted by the ghost of the one that left her behind, and it makes it impossible for her to give her heart to someone new. She keeps it simple and tells her new lover that she’s simply not ready.


11. Flashes

"What about you?"

Here, Lo struggles with fame and attention. She gets high far too often, and when she comes crashing down, she’s faced her actions are immortalized in photos taken by the paparazzi and posted for the world to see. She sees the camera flashes as enemies, fiends that only want to see her fail, but she battles even more with regret and embarrassment for having done those things in the first place.


12. WTF Love Is

"All the cards with all the love cliches; I wouldn't have it any other way."

In the story’s conclusion, Lo speaks directly to the listener, admitting that she’s far from perfect and way more than anyone bargains for in a relationship, and that she allows her warped view of sex and love to inspire her songwriting. You can hear her frustration hidden behind an otherwise singsong melody, and the album ends with her screaming out, “ugh, f***! I need another,” as she downs a shot of alcohol.


Of course, the only one that can truly tell the story and the meaning behind “Lady Wood” is Tove Lo herself, but it’s still so much fun to go through and try and decode story behind it all on my own.

“Lady Wood” is the first half of a two-part album series, and will be followed by two more chapters in 2017: “Light Beams” and “Pitch Black.” Stay tuned for my analysis of the sequel coming soon!

Cover Image Credit: "Lady Wood" - Tove Lo

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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