Courtesy of AWAL

April 28, 2021

girl in red Versus Healthy Queer Relationships

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Warning: The following content contains sensitive material about mental illness and self harm. 

Is girl in red a schmuck? 

In her upcoming album if I could make it all go quiet, set to release this Friday, musician girl in red presents herself as a tortured artist who struggles to treat people — especially women — well, due to her own deteriorating mental health. 

if I could make it all go quiet brings girl in red’s work to a dark and nuanced place. With an exciting new turn in her alt-rock style, this girl in red has grown from the hit songs “i wanna be your girlfriend,” “girls,” and “we fell in love in october.” if I could make it all go quiet explores the complexity of mental illness, anger and rejection.

But instead of analyzing her sound, I will evaluate the relationships depicted on this album because girl in red is a cultural influence for some LGBTQ+ youth. “Do you listen to girl in red?” is a notorious way for queer femme teens to ask each other if they’re gay. Representation of queer relationships in the media are highly influential for young LGBTQ+ people.

In this article, I will discuss how girl in red’s music sometimes exemplifies red flags within relationships — the new album may be triggering to those who have been in toxic relationships. I will rate her songs’ toxicity, one out of ten. 

While I have nothing against girl in red personally, I want to use this album to provide a perspective on how to recognize unhealthy relationships. Mental illness is a challenge, but can never be an excuse for hurting others. 

“Serotonin” was pre-released as a single, and has received much acclaim. This song receives a 1/10 in toxicity, as it is honest about pain and hurtful to no one. girl in red sings, “I’ve got intrusive thoughts like hurting somebody I love.”  Produced by FINNEAS, “Serotonin” is a headbanger, and the only redeemable piece of the album — yet it foreshadows the album’s violent tone. 

“Did You Come” follows “Serotonin” by turning hatred outwards. “You’re full of it… I’m fucking pissed… see yourself through my eyes… you’re so fake.” The song is vengeful and denigrates the person she sings to. The song is a cathartic release for girl in red, but it’s also a horrible example of how to behave in a relationship: “I can’t forgive, I can’t forget… I spelled it out, you’re illiterate.” This song receives a 9/10 in toxicity for its aggression and manipulation.

“Body and Mind” makes me want to scream, “GO TO THERAPY.” She sings, “I’ve been chasing everything that makes me feel cold… Practicing self love is something I don’t really know.” “Body and Mind” goes with a late night drink and a cigarette. It receives a 2/10 for toxicity.

“You Stupid Bitch” receives a 9/10 in toxicity. To the baby gays: No one you’re interested in should ever call you a stupid bitch, even jokingly. girl in red spends the song insulting her love interest, then informs the love interest that they should be together. She also guilts the love interest for asking for her attention which is a fantastic example of a manipulative — verging on emotionally abusive — tactic. Read the full lyrics here

“Rue” is a transitional song, where girl in red turns inward with a regretful gentleness. She sings, “The crazy shit I made you do… I tried so hard to change.” The song shines more light on how girl in red’s relationships have been difficult to maintain. 1/10, for recognizing the truth.  

“Apartment 402” highlights girl in red’s voice in a raw, new light. She sings: All of my fears combined taught me to run and hide.” There is not much harm to others in this song, which describes shutting down emotionally — 2/10. 

girl in red opens up in “.” and becomes more gentle and forgiving through the rest of the album, recognizing her mistakes. In “hornylovesickness,” she sings: “I treated you like trash and you deserve more than that.” Gays and theys, if someone treats you like trash — well, you know what to do. 6/10.

The upside to if it all goes quiet is knowing that you are not alone in pain and self-hatred. On the “Serotonin” Youtube link, a comment reads: “As someone with bipolar disorder who struggles with intrusive thoughts and impulsivity, this really resonates. It’s actually nice to hear a song about something that is not completely understood by a lot of people. Intrusive thoughts are scary and u feel afraid of your own mind. But once u understand what they are, it’s easier to manage.”

No person is inherently a toxic person. But I would recommend staying away from anyone who reminds you of this album’s lyrics — they’re not ready to be in a relationship. 

Emma ‘ED’ Plowe is a senior editor on the 139th editorial board. She can be reached at eplowe@cornellsun.com.