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Spartan Scoop

MITSKIMITSKIMITSKI (PT. 1)

Mitski’s artistry will take your emotions on the rollercoaster of her discography 
Mitski+preforming+Working+for+the+Knife+
Jadis Veal
Mitski preforming Working for the Knife

A common slogan of the Mitski fandom is “In this world, it’s just you, and Japanese-American indie pop singer Mitski against the world”. Beyond the hoard of Tumblr sad girls that worship her, Mitski’s achievements speak for her talent. Her collaboration with David Byrne for Everything Everywhere All At Once earned her an Oscar nomination in 2023. In the indie music scene she is a big name, earning AIM Best Live Performance and Best Creative Campaign in 2022. 

Mitski Miyawaki, born Mitsuki Laycock, was born in Mie Japan, in 1990. She was born to a Japanese mother (from whom she assumed the name Miyawaki), and an American father. Her father worked in government, so Mitski moved across the world throughout her childhood. 

Throughout her frequent moving, Mitski found herself donning new personas. Each year she would reinvent herself, going from the popular girl to the quiet girl. She graduated early during her senior year in Turkey. She found herself feeling disconnected from a sense of self and a sense of home. 

Each album carries with it a different sound. Her debut album Lush, self-released in 2012, has mostly piano accompaniments, and lyricism that tears you apart. The album centers around the youth of a woman and the value of her beauty.

 

 In her opening song, “Liquid Smooth”, she writes, “I’m liquid smooth, come touch me, too/ And feel my skin is plump and full of life, I’m in my prime”. The message continues throughout the album, for example in her song “Brand New City” she says, “If I gave up on being pretty I wouldn’t know how to be alive”. This lyric speaks to the common feeling that a woman’s worth is defined by her beauty and that she must be perfect or her life has no meaning. 

One song in particular from this album that I love is “Wife”. The song is centered around the story of a woman who is trapped under the patriarchy. She wishes to be the perfect wife, to create a family, but being unable to bear children she feels inadequate. This yearning she feels to fulfill the purpose that would make her valuable to her husband and warrant her love feels so deeply compelling. I feel that we all experience this internal need to feel adequate, so the song Wife feels relatable in a gut-wrenching way. 

 

Mitski’s next album, also self-released in 2013, Retired From Sad, New Career in Business seems to tell of her growing up and struggling to find peace moving on in life. She has accompaniment from the SUNY orchestra where she studied at the time.

 

 Her first song “Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart”, tells the story of a relationship in which Mitski sees her faults and mistakes, recognizing her partner by saying “There’s nobody better than you”. Despite her coming to terms with her role in the relationship, she loves this person and wants them to remember the best of her. “I don’t blame you if you want to bury me in your memories, I’m not the girl I ought to be, but maybe when you tell your friends, you can tell them what you saw in me, and not how I turned out to be”.

 

 The album is one of yearning, and this shows in her song “Strawberry Blond”. The song tells the story of an unrequited love between Mitski and her strawberry-blond love interest. She feels pain as she realizes she can’t be desired by him due to her race, but she loves him regardless. She dreams of “a life in your shape” but it is just a dream.

My favorite track on this album is “Class of 2013”. The song tells many messages at once. It tells of Mitski asking her mother if she can stay with her while she settles into adult life. She fears going into independence alone and is clinging to her youth. The song also tells of the strained relationship between Mitski and her mother. She has dreams of being an artist which her mother does not approve of, but she is pleading to get love from her mother during this time she feels lost. “Mom, will you wash my back this once, and then we can forget, and I’ll leave what I’m chasing for the other girls to pursue”. She would give up her dreams to be young and have her mother care for her, but the dreams are still hers and her passion for music won’t disappear. “Mom, am I still young? Can I dream for a few months more”. 

Mom, will you wash my back this once, and then we can forget, and I’ll leave what I’m chasing for the other girls to pursue

— Mitski

In 2014 Mitski released her third album, Burry Me at Makeout Creek. This is the year after she graduated from college and the album delves into these feelings of living in adulthood and becoming a member of society while remembering her youth. 

The second song on the tracklist, “Townie”, was one of Mitski’s earliest written songs. She wrote it in the time after she graduated from high school when she found herself lost, using constant partying to give her life meaning.

 In another song, “Jobless Monday” Mitski sings about the loss found in maturing. Both a maturing relationship nearing its end, and the struggle of getting day-to-day in adult life with little money. The album shows the inner workings of Mitski’s mind as she struggles to move on from past loves and elements of her youth.

The last song of the album, “Last Words of a Shooting Star” is heartbreaking and honest, sharing the hardship of having needs and desires in working life. The song tells the story of a plane going down with Mitski sharing her last thoughts before her death. She worked to appear tidy, but in reality, she was so much more complex. The lyric “They’ll never know how I’d stared at the dark in that room/ With no thoughts/ Like a blood-sniffing shark” shares the message that there is so much that will be left unknown after her death. “I always wanted to die clean and pretty/ But I’d be too busy on working days/ So I am relieved that the turbulence wasn’t forecasted/ I couldn’t have changed anyways.” Mitski wants to show who she is even in her death. She wants the world to know who she is beyond her busy work but is left without time to make her dying wish come true. This comes as a relief that she was surprised by the disaster because she can now accept her fate to die as a simple working girl. 

Each of Mitski’s albums is skillfully crafted to tell the story of moving through life. She uses poetic lyricism to bring the listener into her broken heart and share every emotion she feels. Her discography continues to tell unique stories in a creative and masterful way, and of her albums, four remain to analyze. 

 

About the Contributors
Lizzie Mills-Low, Reporter
Jadis Veal, Illustrator
"Where's everyone going? Bingo?"- Leon Kennedy