It seems like whenever a celebrity acknowledges any problem that he or she has encountered in life, it is written off as a “First World Problem”, and people deride that person for expressing any pain or sign of humanity.
Such was the case following Louis Tomlinson’s release of the lyric video for his latest song, “Just Like You.” Kev Geoghegan and Paul Glynn from BBC Music remarked on Oct. 18 that Tomlinson “laments the trappings of fame and fortune”, concluding their review with the sardonic quip, “We hear you buddy. #firstworldproblems.”
“25 and it's all planned / Night out and it's 10 grand / Headlines that I can't stand.”
Since Tomlinson’s 2010 rise to fame in One Direction and subsequent pursuit as a solo artist in 2015, it was not an easy ride. Despite the evident benefits of being a globally-recognized, successful band — namely, “The cash and the cars, and the glory” — Tomlinson and the others are constantly fighting the media’s perception, spurred on by the teams that surround them.
Tomlinson remains on the receiving end of unflattering and highly exaggerated headlines that diminishes his work. In a society that would rightfully criticize the media for boiling down any female musician’s career to her relationships, a lack of acknowledgment persists when the script is flipped.
“No sleep and we party 'till morning / 'Cause nobody cares when you're boring.”
Sects of fans argue that the focus is not — and never was — on the music that Tomlinson produces. Rather than recognizing his songwriting capabilities and the significant meaning behind his lyrics, the “headlines” sensationalize and highlight the unremarkable people who surround him.
“Yeah, I feel the same as you do / Same stress, same shit to go through / I'm just like you if you only knew.”
It comes in waves.
The first is his supposed friendship with musician, James Arthur, who publicly insulted him in 2013. Their “reconciliation” last summer aligned remarkably well with Arthur’s promotion for his No. 1 single, “Say You Won't Let Go.” The next is his reconnection with Eleanor Calder, who spent 2011 to 2015 on his arm, before reuniting earlier in the year and becoming the center of his promo for his first official single, “Back To You.”
The more consistent, third wave that crashes at opportune moments is his connection to reported ex-fling Briana Jungwirth and son, Freddie Tomlinson, who became the center of his promo for his collaborative work with Steve Aoki on the song, “Just Hold On”, released in December 2016. What is the relevance of mentioning all of these forgettable people in relation to “Just Like You” being observed as Tomlinson bemoaning his undeniably privileged life?
He is still human.
“I'm just like you, even though my problems look nothing like yours do / Yeah, I get sad too, and when I'm down I need somebody to talk to.”
Given that the “headlines that I can’t stand” have largely followed these people for the last year, it can only be assumed that Tomlinson wishes the attention would be given to his actual work. Who could blame him? Promotional questions for his past songs have followed a predictable pattern: “Is the song about your girlfriend?” and “Did you write any songs about your son?”
More so, simply because you can afford to maintain a certain lifestyle, it does not mean that you would place that lifestyle above other things. It is well-known that Tomlinson lost his mother to cancer in December 2016. I would argue that can hardly be classified as a #firstworldproblem.
"Every heart breaks the same / Every tear leaves a stain / Can't I just be the same?"
Tomlinson is not trying to say that his life is as difficult as the average person’s because even in his lyrics, he acknowledges that his problems are a lot different. Even so, he still experiences heartbreak, pain and false perceptions that frustrate him, as they would frustrate us.
At the end of the day, “Just Like You” is a song that is incredibly human. If anything, Geoghegan and Glynn’s interpretation speaks to the current music being produced within the industry, and how most people do not know how to handle Tomlinson’s level of honesty.