“Someone Else”– Single Review
If being imprisoned in my house for the better part of a year taught me anything at all, it’s that I had been taking social interaction for granted. The COVID-19 pandemic made one thing easier, hiding, but the minute I stepped outside the walls of my suburban home I re-remembered just how hard it is to talk to other people, and this is coming from someone who fancies themselves a card-carrying extravert. The difficulty of social interaction is nothing new, as most of us, at some time in our lives have struggled with the emotional goliath known as social anxiety.
“What do I say?” “What if I say the wrong thing?” “What if they don’t like me?” “Why am I sweating so much?” “Why am I so ugly?”
This whirlwind of questions is just about impossible to avoid and somehow manages to rear its ugly head every time one person has to speak to another.
But social anxiety has one great nemesis, the world’s greatest and cheapest therapist, music.
Deb Never-Someone Else
Deb Never’s story is gut-wrenchingly relatable. In an interview with Fader, she expressed that when she was younger she couldn’t even speak, not even to her teachers, her mother even had to order for her at McDonald’s. Her only safety blanket was a large green coat that she would never take off.
If her style and tattoos don’t make it clear that she no longer needs a safety blanket, “Someone Else” most certainly does. Never builds on her effortless hip-hop style and jarringly relatable lyricism, all wrapped up in a song teeming with harmonic and melodic intricacy.
The first few seconds of the song could not possibly set the tone better. A simple trill beat dominated by high hats and snare-rim clicks effortlessly transitions into dissonant guitar chords that somehow feel simultaneously hip-hop and emo, and this is all before Never has spoken a word.
The lyrics fade in as simply as the beat, with Never evoking celestial images, comparing the object of her affection’s eyes to the stars, and asking “Do we see the same moon when you look up?” It doesn’t take a professional to see the tapestry that Never is painting, as she yearns to not feel worlds away from love.
Never remains in a mostly monotone register for the majority of the song’s opening, but this only strengthens the ethereal feel. The first verse ends with Never teasing the song’s main theme, repeating the phrase, “don’t want you to fall in.” Dissonant “oohs and ahhs” oscillate over this repetition, sucking the listener into the next haunting verse.
The second verse follows the same pattern as the verse, playing on the same cosmic themes, empathized by Never’s introduction of Echo effects, as if both she and the listener are lost in space, and I could not be happier to be lost with her. The melodies never quite resolve, leaving behind a constant sense of tension that perfectly mirrors the emotional weight of the song.
After two verses and two half choruses, Never finally cries out the title of the song, repeating the words “with someone else,” throughout the bridge. This repetition is supported by an equally repetitive background guitar strumming pattern that just ever so slightly hints at an explosive third chorus.
And then in one effortlessly beautiful sonic moment, Never changes the game.
Just when I was on the edge of my seat expecting a final chorus, this song tugged at my heartstrings yet again as Never extends the bridge and releases the most powerful lyrics the song has to offer. As if astronomy metaphors weren’t enough to seal the deal, Never, in her signature silky tone, exclaims
“I’m painting the sky’s red
So don’t close your eyes, babe
‘Cause even inside I can feel it pouring
Drown in my own bed
Drown in the words said
How selfish am I?
Don’t want you to fall in love”
In a brilliant turn of phrase, Never makes herself the bad guy, turning this depressingly beautiful anthem on its head and making any listener questioning who to root for in her story. This is songwriting at its best, simply poetic and deeply provocative.
Finally, Never gives us what we have been waiting for the whole, time, an explosive final chorus. The drums explode, with quick bursts of high-hat and a much stronger base. Never introduces deep harmonies, strengthening her already incredibly powerful vocals. There is really only one lyric in this final portion, as Never allows the music to speak for itself.
“With someone else
With someone else
With someone else”
The song ends as ingenious as it began, returning to simple guitar chords, paired with Never humming in the background, almost to herself and not to the listener. I guess she is humming what she is too afraid to say or what the listener is not meant to hear.
This song is just about perfect, it’s as simple as that. It’s a 10/10 and a must-listen for anyone, whether you’re an indie head or a hip-hop addict. “Someone Else” has just about everything, from relatable lyrics to musical intricacy to an infectious beat. I can guarantee it will make my top songs in my 2021 Spotify wrapped, as I can’t stop playing it.
Deb Never truly is an example of music as the world’s greatest universal language. (Move over Money 🙂 ) Especially in 2021, with the U.S facing just about everything but the kitchen sink when it comes to socio-political distress, we all need a way to reach out and connect with each other, and what better way than great music. Another thing we all could use is a security blanket, whether it’s a big green coat or the safety of our house, or in my case, a song as brilliant as “someone else.” I can’t wait to see what Deb Never does next.
Arie Likhtman is a double major in music industry studies and Critical Communication and Media Studies with a minor in philosophy at Butler University. Originally from St.Louis Missouri, he has played music since the age of 4, studying everything from classical piano to ballroom dance to saxophone. He is deeply passionate about all aspects of music from the hot 100 charts to underground indie rock. He hopes to use his voice as a writer to bring new artists to the forefront of the conversation, and to offer new perspectives on music, culture, and society as a whole