February 27th, 2012 1:00am
Tearing Me Apart
There are a great many songs sung from the perspective of the other woman (or the other man), and you can split them into two basic categories: Songs like the Long Blondes’ “You Could Have Both” or Pulp’s “Pencil Skirt,” in which the singer and the lyricist know that the character is delusional, selfish and self-destructive, and songs like Whitney Houston’s “Saving All My Love For You” or this new track by Azealia Banks, in which the protagonist is straight-up expressing what they are feeling and thinking without any implied irony. While Whitney invests her song with a heartbreaking sweetness at odds with her homewrecking agenda, Banks’ character is diabolical and desperate to get her way. Half the lyrics are rationalizations, but it doesn’t sound like the character knows that, so lines like “you ain’t in love with her, but she still is in your heart / but you be in my apartment tearing me apart” land with a bitter pathos. The character isn’t afraid of hurting these other people, but most of all, she’s not afraid of hurting herself.