Someone You Loved
November 28, 2019
Todd plays "Someone You Loved" on the piano.
LEWIS CAPALDI - SOMEONE YOU LOVED
A pop song review
Todd: "Someone You Loved" by Lewis Capaldi is the worst number-one single of the decade. I will not be taking questions at this time.
Clip of Lewis Capaldi - "Someone You Loved"
Lewis Capaldi: I'm going under and this time I fear there's no one to save...Todd (VO): Uh, I don't know. I-I'm looking through [Todd scrolls down list of Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles of the 2010s on Wikipedia] this list of #1 hits in the 2010s, and I'm just not seeing anything that comes anywhere close to being as immediately and unmistakably bad as "Someone You Loved".
Todd: The closest thing I could find is...
Video for...Todd (VO): Taylor Swift's "Look What You Made Me Do". But as horrible and misguided as that was, I respect that Taylor took a big swing at it, you know? It was a gutsy move, even if the results were pretty tragic. [back to "Someone You Loved"] So, yeah, "Someone You Loved" has [screen capture of 2018 section of the previous Wikipedia list] no competition. Oh! Oh, oh wait. ["Girls Like You" is circled in red] Right at the end of the list there.
Video for Maroon 5 ft. Cardi B - "Girls Like You"Yeah, that-that might do it. At the very least, it's close enough to keep it down to the wire. I'll have to think on that one.
Todd: [sarcastically] Or maybe something worse will come along at the last month of the decade! [shudders] Can't even imagine.
Video for "Someone You Loved"Todd (VO): But yeah, this song is totally worthless. On the advice of my therapist, I've been trying to dial back the whole...
Todd: ..."cranky critic" thing, gotta be grumpy all the time, but...[pause] oh, boy! This-this is gonna be an old-school, shouty angry review. 'Cause...
Todd (VO): ...no, this-this song honestly does put me in a real bad mood. It comes on, and I just [images of man in car...] honk more at other cars and traffic, [...and check with...] I don't tip as well.
Todd: My personal flaws are your fault, Lewis Capaldi! Look what you did!
Video for Ed Sheeran ft. YEBBA - "Best Part of Me (Live At Abbey Road)"Todd (VO): You know, maybe Ed Sheeran is too easy a target, but I kind of wanna blame him for this. [clip of Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber - "I Don't Care"] Like, you know how I claimed in that last Sheeran review that he just doesn't have the hype factor of a real pop star?
Todd: Yeah, that apparently is not true in the UK where Sheeran is, by far, the biggest name in music.
Video for Eminem ft. Ed Sheeran - "River"Todd (VO): So much so, that he actually got Eminem's "River" to #1. Clearly, Sheeran is a real cult of personality there in the same way as...Taylor Swift or BTS. I mean he must be if he got that piece of shit to the top of the charts.
Todd: And while he is a mega-star, he is only the most famous celebrity of [shot of article: "What's with all the white-boy blues singers?"] full-on singer-songwriter mania in the UK.
Clip of Live Lounge performance of James Bay - "Let It Go"Todd (VO): The island of Britain is just awash in white dudes playing acoustic songs, some of whom are the biggest stars in the damn country. A lot of it has crossed over to America also, but we've only really gotten a taste. [footage of Ed Sheeran at signing event] Sheeran's the only cross-Atlantic superstar...or at least he was...
Todd: ...until the waning days of 2019.
Clip of The Ellen DeGeneres Show
Sean Hayes: If you've turned the radio on in the last six months, you've heard our next guest's song. It's been streamed over one billion times. Please welcome Lewis Capaldi.Todd (VO): This is Lewis Capaldi. Newly famous Scottish singer, distant relative of [image of...] former Doctor Who star, Peter Capaldi, who [brief clip of UK video for "Someone You Loved"] starred in the original video.
Lewis: I let my guard downYeah, this is the original video. They ended up shooting a different video later, because no one over here knows who this is.
Todd: A bunch of nerds just popped up like, "I know him!" Yeah, you guys don't count.
Clip of US video for "Someone You Loved"
Lewis: I'm going under and this time I fear...Todd (VO): It's easy to call Lewis Capaldi a Sheeran wannabe; he's another singer-songwriter Brit, he's got the [image of Lewis Capaldi] same moon face and wild, unkempt hair. [side-by-side images of Capaldi and Sheeran] Drop some red paint on his head, you wouldn't know the difference. But he seems to have leapfrogged all of his peers to become the one person who might actually rival Sheeran someday in terms of star power.
Todd: And I get it. He...
Clip of Ellen DeGeneres Show performanceTodd (VO): ...he stands out from the pack. He is unique among his generation of singer-songwriters...
Todd: ...in that he's both a terrible singer and a terrible songwriter.
Todd (VO): Like, usually you gotta be good at at least one. [clip of Bob Dylan performance] A lot of the most revered artists in rock history were...pretty limited vocalists, but their songs were just that good. [clip of James Arthur - "Say You Won't Let Go"] And while I'm not super impressed with the lyrical skills of these new balladeers, I-I do respect that most of them have these beautiful, supple voices.
Todd: The first thing I noticed about Capaldi is that his singing is just the absolute worst.
Lewis: Now, the day bleeds into nightfallTodd (VO): I have no idea how anyone stands it.
Todd: This is what I'm hearing.
Clips from Dumb and Dumber are intercut with "Someone You Loved" video
Lewis: Like the way you help me escape
Now, the day bleeds into nightfall
And you're not here to get me through it allTodd (VO): Capaldi's not just a bad singer, he's the worst kind of bad singer.
Todd: The kind that doesn't know he's bad.
Lewis: And I tend to...Todd (VO): It's the singing you get from the guy at...
Todd: ...karaoke who accidentally picked a song out of his range, but he's gonna power through it anyway.
Todd (VO): Maybe I'm in the minority here 'cause...legions of fans apparently love the throaty scream of this wailing baby-man.
Todd: To a lot of people, [shrugs] I guess this is the most romantic sound in the world.
Another clip from Ellen DeGeneres Show performance with Capaldi's wailing drawn outTodd throws his hand up as if to say "Your point?"
Video for Lewis Capaldi - "Bruises"Todd (VO): You know, we don't talk a lot about folk singers as singers, but it actually matters quite a bit.
Video for Sam Hart - "Mario Kart Love Song"There was a viral video many years ago where a guy wrote a love song about Mario Kart. It was a joke, but...honestly, it kinda moved me anyway because he had that perfect delivery.
Sam Hart: When we slide together we generate sparks
In our wheels and our heartsTodd (VO): He'd be a much better star than Capaldi. [clip of trailer for...] For that matter, I don't know how many of you saw Yesterday, the movie from this summer where everyone magically forgets the Beatles except one guy, and he gets big singing their songs. [clip of Ed Sheeran in Yesterday] There's a part in there where Ed Sheeran plays himself and he challenges the guy to a song contest. And the main character wins 'cause, you know, he's singing the Beatles, but...
Todd: ...I didn't buy it at all...
Todd (VO): ...because Sheeran was clearly blowing him out of the water just by being a much better performer than this useless schlub!
Todd: You gotta work with the instrument you have.
Video for "Someone You Loved"Todd (VO): You don't have to be a great vocalist, you just know how to make it work, and Capaldi clearly doesn't.
Todd: Or maybe he does know his own limits, 'cause...
Clip of Lewis Capaldi performing "Someone You Loved" at The Late Late Show with James CordenTodd (VO): ...every live performance I could find, he pitches this song about four steps deeper.
Lewis: I need somebody to heal, somebody to knowSo maybe it's not his fault. Maybe his producer forced him to go higher in the studio to...
Todd: ...try and enhance the emotion. 'Cause I've heard of producers doing that, like...
Brief clips of live performances of...Todd (VO): Def Leppard, Marvin Gaye.
Todd: Well, Capaldi isn't Marvin Gaye.
Clip of "Someone You Loved" intercut with screaming goat
Lewis: And I tend to close...Todd: Maybe let him stay in his comfort zone.
Todd (VO): But fine, whatever. It's not his beautiful, buttery voice that made him famous. It's his skill as a songwriter.
Todd: As a lyricist and composer. So why don't we check out the song's composition first?
Video for "Someone You Loved" startsTodd (VO): So structurally, this is a...fairly stark and...
Todd: ...bare production with...
Lewis: This all or nothing really got a way of driving me crazyTodd: Okay, I can't focus on anything else. This is a pop song chord song. [image of Nick Long's "Four Chord Song" over opening of Journey - "Don't Stop Believing"] It's all I hear. Like, I've-I've made a running gag about how this is [image of 4-chord pop song chart] the most overused chord pattern in pop. I hope those jokes are funny to you, but if you know anything about musical theory, it is so obvious. Pointing it out is like saying, [sarcastically] "Have you noticed that writers use the word, 'the', a lot?" I'm not even the first person to joke about it.
Clip of...Todd (VO): The comedy troupe, Axis of Awesome, has a pretty famous bit about it. I even used the same song they did to illustrate it, "Don't Stop Believing." [clip of Journey - "Don't Stop Believing"] 'Cause it is the most basic demonstration of those four chords. Simple rhythm, no thrills.
Todd: And it's overused for a reason; it's a good, sturdy foundation for a song. But it's just a foundation.
Montage clips of a-ha - "Take On Me"; U2 - "With or Without You"; MGMT - "Kids"Todd (VO): With something that basic, you gotta do stuff with it. Like, say, interesting guitar textures, a nice smashing synth riff, or just...
Todd: ...mess the pattern a little.
Video for Green Day - "When I Come Around"Todd (VO): There's a billion variations on it. Most of what we call, "four chord songs" use a bunch of other chords, [clip of...] including "Don't Stop Believing", which...gets a decent bit more complex after the opening measures.
Todd: But that is not true for "Someone You Loved." [image of sheet music for "Someone You Loved"] No sixths or sevenths here. Same up-down, up-down rhythm as "Don't Stop Believing", almost in the same key even. The only thing it doesn't have is...
Brief clip of "Don't Stop Believing"Todd (VO): ...that awesome Journey bass line because that would be too complicated.
Clip of live performance of "Someone You Loved"This is literally more basic than nothing.
Todd: Using no chords would...[pause] well, obviously it would be different and unexpected. You don't hear a lot of solo a cappella songs.
Todd (VO): But this, on a sheer compositional level, is just the plain oatmeal of music. [image of person typing...] It's like starting an essay, "What is blank? [shot of cover for...] Well, Webster defines blank as blah-di-blah-di-blah." It just shouldn't happen.
Todd: And I can hear people saying, "Well, you know, it's okay..."
Todd (VO): ...'cause it's a piano ballad. Sometimes minimal production works to enhance the lyrics.
Video for...This-this is basically just a rehash of [clip of...] "Someone Like You" by Adele. I mean, isn't it? It's the same song." And...
Todd: ...to that I say, "How dare you?!"
Todd (VO): Let me be perfectly clear about this. [clip of "Someone You Loved"] These two sparingly orchestrated piano ballads, by British songwriters about sad breakups, with [shot of song titles with letters "IK" in the former and "OV" and "D" in the latter highlighted in red] titles that are literally just three letters apart...
Todd: ...have absolutely nothing in common! And screw you for the comparison!
Video for "Someone Like You"Todd (VO): For one thing, it's galling to compare one of pop's best vocalists [brief clip of "Someone You Loved"] with its worst. But more importantly, "Someone Like You" by Adele is a modern classic because of its emotional complexity. There is a lot going on in it. Like the verses are very earnest and pleading, and then you get to the title line...
Adele: Never mind, I'll find someone like youAnd it's this giant emotional swerve from desperation into bitter hurt sarcasm.
Adele: "Don't forget me," I begTodd: And then it veers back into some resignation. It's a very complicated thing that justifies the bare-bones structure.
Todd (VO): There's so much going on in the lyrics that you don't want to distract from it.
Todd: There is no such winding arc in "Someone You Loved." That shit is a straight line.
Video for "Someone You Loved"Todd (VO): It's just, [singing] I'm sad, I'm sad, I'm sad. I'M SAD, I'M SAD!
Todd: Also, the lyrics themselves are very bad!
Todd (VO): Like, you dial the music back when you wanna emphasize the words.
Todd: These are not words you want to let stand on their own.
Lewis: I'm going under and this time I fear there's no one to save me
I tend to close my eyes when it hurts sometimes
I let my guard down and then you pulled the rugTodd (VO): This is not beautiful, heart-rending poetry.
Todd: This is dialogue from Attack of the Clones!
Clip from Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones with "Someone You Loved" playing in the background
Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen): I'm in agony. The closer I get to you, the worse it gets. The thought of not being with you...I can't breathe.Todd (VO): Actually, I think Anakin is doing better than Capaldi!
Clip of "Someone You Loved"
Lewis: This all or nothing way of loving got me sleeping without youTodd: Yeah, Lewis, that is generally how breakups work.
Todd (VO): Like, what does that even mean? What does "all or nothing" mean in context of that line?
Lewis: Now, the day bleeds into nightfall
And you're not here to get me through it allTodd: Yes, I get that nights can be the most difficult part of the breakup.
Todd (VO): The loneliness, the empty space on the bed...
Todd: ...the intrusive thoughts about how you're gonna die alone, and that YouTube is not a real career, and your parents were right and you should've majored in business. [screen capture of chorus lyrics on Genius with arrow pointing at the first line...] But he just says, "The day becomes night." [...and the one after] And then in the next line, he refers to the night as, "it all."
Todd (VO): It sounds like the night itself is all the problem.
Todd: I think this motherfucker's just scared of the dark! He needs her back so she [image of guy...] can check under his bed for monsters. And while the lyrics are individually bad on their own, the delivery makes them so much worse.
Todd (VO): There is one...kind of clever rhetorical trick, with the line with the title in it.
Todd: Why does he miss her so much?
Lewis: I was getting kinda used to being someone you lovedTodd (VO): He was getting kind of used to being someone she loved.
Todd: It was part of his daily routine.
Todd (VO): The technique he's using here...is...
Todd (VO): He's trying to say everything by saying as little as possible. You know, "I've grown accustomed to her face." But here's the thing. The way you make understatement work...
Todd: ...is by understating it. You just let it sit there in devastating silence. You don't SCREAM IT...
Todd (VO): ...AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS!
Todd: "I was getting used to you," is not something you...
Todd (VO): ...wail in agony like you just nailed your penis to your leg...
Todd: ...you fucking hack! [exhales angrily]
Todd (VO): But more than anything, I just don't like the attitude. I guess we've stopped using emo as an insult, but I can't think of a better word for it. It's really whiny in a narcissistic kind of way.
Lewis: I guess I kinda liked the way you numbed all the painNot a single word about who this girl is, or what he misses about her, or why she left him. It's nothing but, "me, me, me, me!"
Todd: There's not even a sense of, like, a relationship between two people. It's just, "You hurt me."
Lewis: And then you pulled the rugTodd (VO): "My feelings, I can't make it, I'm drowning. Blah-di-blah-di-blah."
Todd: I-I guess a lot of breakup songs are like that, but they at least try to hide it with poetic imagery and stuff like that.
Todd (VO): Capaldi's writing is so basic, it's like he wants you to know what a self-absorbed ass he is.
Todd: So, yeah. This song just fuckin' sucks all around.
Clip of Ellen DeGeneres Show performanceTodd (VO): I have no idea how he got to the top of the charts. His music is bad, his lyrics are bad, his singing is bad, and he's clearly not popular from his raw sex appeal.
Todd: Which leaves only one thing, his skill at writing melodies.
Clip of "Someone You Loved"
Lewis: I need somebody to know, somebody to heal
Somebody to have, just to know how it feelsTodd (VO): You know, I will admit, that is a pretty catchy melody.
Todd: I mean, I knew that already 'cause it's the melody from "Numa Numa".
Clip of "Numa Numa" YouTube video
Gary Brolsma: Mi-a-hii
Mi-a-haaTodd (VO): So there we have the appeal of this song. It reminds people of "Numa Numa". I finally get the appeal.
Todd: And one last thing I wanted to add.
Clip of Lewis Capaldi interview on 95-106 Capital FMTodd (VO): Every review I've read of Capaldi talks about what a funny and charming guy he is [shot of article: "17 Funniest Tweets from Lewis Calamari (Capaldi)"] like in interviews, on social media, and so on.
Todd: [beat] 'Kay. [shrugs]
Todd (VO): Honestly, it just makes me feel like Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross. [heavy New York accent] Likable guy, fuck you! Funny on Twitter, go get retweets from your followers! Coffee...
Todd: ...is for the talented!
Todd (VO): [normal] And right now, he's in a feud with Noel Gallagher, and...boy, doesn't that just say it all.
Clip of Noel Gallagher interview on The Chris Evans Breakfast ShowOf course they don't like each other. Noel Gallagher is his polar opposite, he's a charmless asshole who...still made [clip of Oasis - "Don't Look Back in Anger"] more great music in two years than Capaldi will in his entire life.
Todd: Like, I'm sure Capaldi is more fun at parties, and...
Clip of Lewis Capaldi interview on On Air with Ryan SeacrestTodd (VO): ...he'll be a great judge on season 10 of The Masked Singer someday, but...
Video for "Someone You Loved"...I know which of them deserves to be famous. I just don't see the point of this guy.
Todd: I don't even think Peter Capaldi likes his music. He said so right to his face!
Clip from In the Loop with Lewis Capaldi's face pasted over Linton Barwick's
Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi): I've come across a lot of psychos, but none as fucking boring as you. I mean, you are a real boring fuck!Todd: Damn straight, Pete.
Gets up and leaves
Clip of "Someone You Loved"
Lewis: ...someone you loved
Closing Tag Song: "Nobody Likes Me (Guess I'll Go Eat Worms)"
"Someone You Loved" is owned by Vertigo Records
This video is owned by me
THANK YOU TO THE LOYAL PATRONS!