The most endearing thing about Christine and the Queens’ new single, “People, I’ve Been Sad,” is the fact that frontwoman Chris feels the need to tell you that she’s been sad. She’s never really ever had to tell anyone she’s been sad before; it’s in the way she sings, the way her voice bends in the perfect pop song “Girlfriend” when she says, “Don’t feel like a girlfriend/Damn, I’d be your lover.” Yet here she is with a new song, recently released via Because Music with a video by Colors Studios, telling everyone (tout le monde) in English and her native French just how much her heart hurts.
For as much as she spells it out, though, she also shows how deeply she feels her ennui. Even though the tune is still undeniably a Christine and the Queens song with its fuzzy New Wave synths and dance-y drums, there’s a starkness here that hasn’t been as pronounced in some of her previous songs. Chris has crossed an emotional threshold, singing, “It’s true that, people, I’ve been sad.” But that’s not enough. Because she’s French, the sentiment has to be existential. “I’ve been gone,” she sings, “I’ve been missing out…Been missing out for too long, forsaking things for too long.”
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She’s never specific about what she’s missed out on or just why she’s so hurt, but just from the way she sings it, you can tell it has decimated her. In the middle of the song, she sings in French about how when she feels something, everything is much stronger, how loneliness has driven crazy.
But then again, specificity about her depression wouldn’t make the song any better. At one point she sings, “If you fall apart, then I’m falling behind you”; there’s a codependence in the song. You’re supposed to feel it along with her. When she sings, “I’ve been sad,” the “I” could easily be whoever’s listening to her words. You ask yourself, “Am I sad, too?” and more importantly, “Do I need to give in and tell myself that I’m sad?” And then immediately put on “Girlfriend” again and get back into a more upbeat mindset.
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