Breakup Songs For Women At Fault
A couple of weeks ago, a good friend of mine took to his Twitter to point out the lack of songs about men done wrong in a relationship. He said, in most breakup songs, the man is at fault.
I’m with him. Male and female artists always sing melodies about fouls committed by men, men apologizing for their mistakes, or regretting the loss of a woman once had but now only dreamt about. It’s gotten to the point where whenever I hear a song from the opposite point of view, my ears perk up. I even have a playlist called, “You Damn Right You’re Sorry, Now Say It Again.”
Even though my friend wasn’t necessarily asking for some song suggestions, I threw some of the songs I have on this playlist in his direction. There’s Trey Songz’s “Cheat On You,” Mark Morrison’s classic, “Return of the Mack,” and of course, “Next Girl” by the Black Keys. Not to be left off this playlist is Janet Jackson’s “Where Are You Now”. I love how she sounds apologetic and accountable for mistakes she made. For those who forgot exactly what that sounds like, here it is.
Earlier this year, I was taken by surprise when I heard a new song with a similar narrative. The song is called “Without You” and it’s by Stacy Barthe, an LA-based up-and-coming talent who made her bones as a songwriter and is now breaking out on her own as a singer.
I recently interviewed Barthe for Billboard. We discussed a lot of things, all which you can check out here. The portion that didn’t make it into the interview, was our little talk about “Without You”.
The song features a guest appearance by Frank Ocean, who takes over on the last verse. This was before Frank Ocean became 2011’s it-boy of R&B. Barthe explains how the collaboration came to be in her own words below…
What happened was, I was in the studio working on it. I started it the day before, and I came back the next day and told the engineer to let me go in to record different parts. The humming part came just because I was waiting on the engineer to start recording me, so I kept that part in, and I wrote out the lyrics.
By the end of the night, Frank came just to hang out, like around 11. He heard the record and I asked him to get on it, and this was before Nostalgia/Ultra, and everything else. He wrote his verse in the booth in like 20 minutes and dropped it. It was crazy, because I asked him what angle he was going to come from, and I didn’t expect him to come at it from that angle. What’s funny is, when he clears his throat, I was like, ‘Why do you keep doing that?’ He said, “Oh, no no, I’m keeping that in there.” That was intentional.
To Barthe’s credit, giving Ocean the artistic freedom to do what he wanted on his verse is what makes “Without You” go from your typical love song about longing into a weepy ballad about an unsalvageable relationship. If I ever get a chance to talk to Frank Ocean, I’ll ask him what the motivation was behind his verse, until then take a listen to “Without You” and if you enjoy it, click here to download Stacy’s entire EP, Sincerely Yours for free.