Each and every time “We Are Young” comes on the radio (which is about a good 5 times on my way to work), I find myself singing along with Nate Ruess solely during the memorable chorus, “tonight, we are young…” and I’m sure you can finish the rest. I mutter the first and second verse, surpassing key parts of understanding the song in its entirety.
The other day, a friend of mine brought the first verse to my attention as it came on the radio, basically saying “so you know this song is about domestic abuse right?” My first reaction was to a.) laugh at the absurdity of the statement- KROQ‘s Nicole Alvarez backed the song as a graduation anthem for goodness sake b.) question myself- what was the first verse talking about- what WAS the first verse? c.) sigh at my lack of remembering anything but the chorus.
I returned home later that day, questions still unanswered so naturally I looked to Google to look up the lyrics with fresh eyes. After looking up the lyrics, questions began racing through my head. What did he mean by “seat’s been taken by some sunglasses asking ’bout a scar”? Or what did he give her months ago- those scars? “Apologies”? Why is he apologizing? First off, I am in no means an “expert”. I do not analyze verses for a living but I can read and after reading the lyrics, it’s only natural that I suspect my friend was right.
After watching the music video (because I’ll be honest, I listened to the song about a billion times and hadn’t looked), I am even more confused. The video takes place in a quaint bar, where people are hitting one another and I assume acting foolish because hey, they are young. The entire video is in slow motion, which is pretty cool. It seems to me, by reading the comments, people have no idea what’s going on as well but enjoy it because they love the song. The video is “abstract”, admitted band member Jack Antonoff, “but to us, it makes sense.”
Frontman Nate admitted that the song popped in his head while driving to a meeting in the city where he was going to talk to a producer about the album. He had no idea it was going to be a hit. Even the chorus we all have grown to love came to him during the drive, thankfully.
I am still convinced that the song isn’t as straightforward as I once previously thought, which is strangely comforting. If it is about domestic abuse and youthful regrets then that just adds another layer to a song that I could have sworn I knew all too well. Who knows, maybe I’m reading too much into it, or maybe I’m right. Either way, I want more answers. I am no longer satisfied with just singing along to the chorus and reliving graduation day.
Launch the gallery to look at pictures of the band’s great performances and view the “We Are Young” video. If you happen to understand it- please feel free to comment and enlighten the rest of us!