The first time I experienced heartbreak, I leaned on music for immediate comfort. I was unbearably sad, and could not fathom feeling anything else. Turning to gut-wrenching songs about heartbreak was the only thing I knew how to do for months. Until, one day, an upbeat breakup song on the radio made me feel like I had taken a shot of pure serotonin.
I told myself: “This is it! My sadness is over!”
If you have ever had your heart broken, you know that is simply a lie.
Breakup songs tend to fall on opposite ends of a spectrum of emotional extremes: the solemn heartbreak ballad that you cry along to on one end (ex: Julien Baker’s “Something”) , and the empowered single-hood anthem on the other (ex: Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts”). While deep in the throes of heartbreak, it is well within the realm of possibility that we can simultaneously identify with both. Songs that exist somewhere in the middle and reach beyond the binary of happy vs. sad are harder to come by.
It takes a little more effort to explore some of the more complex emotions that fall in the middle. Desperation, regret and lust are not quite as easy to identify. It is easier to have a clear cut understanding of how we feel. The more nebulous and complicated feelings, though? That is harder to navigate.
Miguel and J. Cole may have put this track out nearly a decade ago, but it remains evergreen because it does fall somewhere in the middle. The track openly admits to and names regret, lust, desperation, uncertainty, and the myriad ways in which one attempts and fails to move past heartbreak. This exploration and openness creates a uniquely vulnerable space for a listener to sit with discomfort.
This track exists just beneath the surface of anything that immediately sticks out to us as something worth exploring. It is not the rallying cry of your new best life or a companion to your wallowing, but it shines as an authentic exploration of something realistic, human, and complicated.
“All I Want Is You” is authentic without spectacle. It is not polarizing or demanding; it sits comfortably in its declarations of emotional vulnerability. It swims in the unknown and invites you to float along. Sometimes, we all need the reminder that you can only run so far, so fast, and away from so many things.
Take a listen, and try your hand at letting yourself feel. This is what it means to be human.
(Song recommendation by Lindsy Goldberg)