Songs From the Lineup is a review series that unpacks the musical lineup of the Life Is Beautiful festival through individual songs by the featured artists. Look for weekly installments at DTLV.com, right up through the festival in September. Check out previous Songs from the Lineup here.
I love a romantic song. I love a good indie tune about eating pad thai and playing Pacman on the first date. I love a summer single about getting your hot ex back. I love a catchy pop banger about never getting married.
I love you. I don’t need a ring to prove that you’re worthy. You’re under my skin is on the opening end of Tegan and Sara’s “BWU,” and damn, is it refreshing.
Beyoncé has us single ladies convinced that we should be gunning for the ring like Steph Curry or something. I’m fine with that. Do your thing. Tie your souls together; release the doves; say yes to the dress, but leave me and Sara Quin of the Canadian pop duo out of it. The singer made it clear to Rolling Stone in June when she said she didn’t want the “social hierarchy” that came with marriage. No need for validation.
“BWU” (short for Be With You) off their latest album Love You to Death, is a grand example of how Tegan and Sara write music. You won’t find an embarrassment of Ed Sheeran emotions here. “When I write pop songs, I tend to want them to be a bit more cerebral,” Sara told Rolling Stone. “They’re not just love songs; they’re songs that address my anxieties and my cynical attitude approach to relationships and life.”
This is what differentiates Tegan and Sara’s music from the Top 40. Each song bears a personal touch that hollow dance music can’t touch. The twins probe the issue of marital norms without deflating the airiness of the pop sound. It’s a show of these artists’ musical prowess. It’s why they’ve been nominated for a Grammy and have a discography that’s longer than my student loans bill.
Is “BWU” anti-wedding? Sure. Sara said it herself. Is it any less romantic? Hell no. The lyrics, situated under a synth-pop melody, couldn’t be any more lovely. Nothing about this anti-marriage song is evading commitment. That’s what “BWU” rages against. There’s a misconception in our society that if you don’t want to marry someone, then you don’t want to spend the rest of your life with them. Then you don’t love them. But no piece of paper or jewelry guarantees you anything. Shit happens. Things break. People move out with the dog, hitched or not.
That’s what “BWU” is trying to crack into our brains. It’s a song about trust. If you aren’t married, then doesn’t that raise the stakes? If your relationship isn’t tethered to a government paper, isn’t it easier to walk away? These are the kinds of insecurities a song like “BWU” can bring out of us, but lyrically, it’s layered with devotion. It’s compelling to hear I don’t need a lock to prove that you trust me. I walk the walk to be with you. Just to be with you. Shit could hit the fan tomorrow, but there’s trust that it won’t.(Writing this has convinced me to become a couple’s therapist.)
Given that Tegan and Sara have such a huge catalog of brilliant music, “BWU” might fall to the wayside onstage against old favorites like “The Con,” “Closer,” and “Now I’m All Messed Up,” Still, let’s hold out hope for this one. Festivalgoers could use something less conventional.