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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Kassel

"Someone To You" and the effects of the simple desire to be loved

BANNERS displays the longing for a feeling he may not really know... but the way he does it is compelling.

Ladies and gentlemen, WE GOT THE AXE!!!

The 124th Big Game was a resounding success, with California outclassing Stanford, 41-11. I'll probably write more about it tomorrow when I write a post about a celebratory song, but tonight my musical focus — as it's been for every game I've attended this season — is on the Cal Band's halftime show.

This evening, the Cal Band wowed the Stanford Stadium crowd with a show themed after one of the most common tropes in popular music: the 'hopeless romantic.' They closed the show with BANNERS' 2017 song "Someone To You," an indie track which hits right at the show's theme. The song wants to be a confession of love, but BANNERS (real name Michael Nelson) has only the vaguest idea of the person to whom he wants to give his affection. He casts out his feelings for the world to hear, pouring out his heart over wanting to have someone to love.

I was familiar with "Someone To You" before the Cal Band played it, having heard the song around the time of its release in the summer before my senior year of high school. (Yikes, I feel old saying that.) I remembered it as having a sound which very much fit the 2010s alt and indie scene, with a fast, pounding kick drum and a very forward string line. I was somewhat surprised, however, to hear the song again starting last year. It seems that the catalyst for its revival to be multiple TV shows and movies, including Love, Victor and Friendzone. Those shows' themes, like that of many others, definitely align with BANNERS' lyrical message of wanting to matter to someone.

I also wonder if the COVID-19 pandemic had a hand in the song's revival, both as it relates to its selection for the shows in question and independently of other media. In losing in-person contact with outsiders for an extended period — unprecedented in most of our lives — we were likely quicker than normal to yearn for someone else's touch and love. After all, there's only so much that can be felt over a Zoom call or a text. As for the song's continuing popularity in some respects into late 2021, I think that does tie a bit more directly to the media; I for one am trying to leave songs I hear as relating to... *frantically waves hands around self* the world and how it ended last year in the past.

Lyrically, I find "Someone To You" interesting because of how BANNERS quickly switches between being a leader and a follower in the relationship he desires. The titular "want[ing] to be someone" helps with this idea through its ambiguity. Does he want to be someone in the sense that he's a comforting figure for his partner, or does he want them to comfort him? The second verse has the section in which Nelson's character feels the most active: in wanting to feel love, he calls out: "I'll make the moon shine just for your view / I'll make the starlight circle the room." However, these lofty hyperboles soon give way to passivity, as he ultimately believes that the other party "could lead the way."

I find this willingness to be led along in the relationship to be particularly interesting coming from a male singer, because we're so culturally conditioned to expect the opposite. Maybe this moment is just BANNERS willing to do anything to feel love (or feel loved — one letter can change a lot), or maybe it's genuine and he has that trust in the person he so desires. I'm personally unsure as to what colors the song's perspective; all I know is that it's a really catchy tune, and thanks to the Cal Band, it'll be in my head for a while. Go Bears!


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