March 27, 2020
What is the driving factor for your music choices? Is it name recognition of the artist, quality of the sound, the lyrics, or perhaps even the beat? Does theme ever matter to you in an album, or do you judge an album song by song and forget the rest? I personally did this for a long time. I would pick and choose the songs based on what sound and beat I liked the best and basically ignored the rest of the album. However, over time I’ve realized it is extremely important to listen through the entirety of an album as it allows you to understand your favorite artists more, while also picking up on key themes throughout the discography.
An album that I would encourage you to listen through fully and analyze as well is Heartbreak Weather by Niall Horan. If you’re a die-hard One Direction fan like myself, you understand how great this album is because you probably listened to it all in one night. However, if you didn’t grow up on One Direction or never followed the careers of the previous band members, this album is for sure something you are going to want to listen to. The album consists of fourteen songs with a great mix of acoustics, pop, and a slight R&B feel. Niall has had a lot of success in his single career with hit songs such as This Town, Slow Hands, and Nice to Meet Ya. With that success, people were expecting a lot from this newly released album, and he did not disappoint. The goal of this article is to dissect the album for themes, quality sounding songs, and more. My hope is that my analysis on Heartbreak Weather will allow you to explore not only Niall’s music, but other artists you love that present themes to be dissected as well.
Through different sources, song enthusiasts have determined that the main theme of the beginning of Niall’s newest album as “falling in love as explained by the weather.” We can see with his opening song, Heartbreak Weather, that he’s talking about someone he loved, by explaining that the “clouds have lifted” when he’s with this person. Continuing on, Niall’s next song, Black and White, implies that he indeed has started to fall for this person and explains their future as being “crystal clear on a star lit night.” Essentially, he sees their future as clear weather with no interruptions.
The album transitions into a lot sadder tone, followed by a momentary relapse back to upbeat, then back to the sadder tone again. The theme is almost the stages of a messy breakup. In Dear Patience, Niall is going through a stage of denial within his relationship (we can assume with the person he was referring to in his first two songs). His lyrics are clearly presenting the idea that the person he is referring to is not reciprocating the way he feels. In Dear Patience, he is talking to himself because he has that hope of retaining his significant other. In the next couple songs, Bend the Rules and Small Talk, Niall goes through the motions of coping with the breakup. He blames her for “leaving out the truth” and then continues on by seeking out other people to fill that void of heartbreak. Nice to Meet Ya is the next song and one of Niall’s most successful songs he has every recorded with over 139 million streams on Spotify. Released in November of 2019, the sound is upbeat and hopeful. As one can assume, it is about someone that Niall has met, and right in line with the albums theme, the person that he is using to cope with over his breakup.
The rest of the album is Niall realizing that he can’t fill that void by distracting himself with other people. This is emphasized especially in Arms of a Stranger and San Francisco. Niall puts it all out there: from telling how he can’t be with anyone else to very clearly asking this person back into his life. With lines like “baby, won’t you give me back what you took apart?” and “take me back, take me back to San Francisco, I know what we had would never last, but I can’t let go of you,” he is not mincing words with his intentions with this person.
The album closes with Still, a reflective yet hopefully sounding song. With the soft acoustic undertone, Niall seeks to not be so abrupt with how he feels, but rather discloses what he had with this person in an honest and reflective way. Memories he’s had with her, along with hope for a future are repeated throughout the song. When the song ends, listeners are left wondering what happens with the couple.
Overall, Heartbreak Weather, has a great variety of themes, sounds, and lyrical quality. As you listen to the album it evident that there are three themes described within his analysis of relationships: exploring the walk throughout the relationship, how he’s “weathered the storm” when breakup happens, and the in-between stages until the next relationship. His themes are not only fantastic and relatable, but the sounds distinctly help describe the mood that he is in. The album starts super happy, hopeful, and upbeat, and when the breakup occurs, the mood of his songs take a turn to somber, slow beats, and softer lyrics. While not in a relationship he’s meeting other people and gives us more upbeat tunes with catchy lyrics and beats that will make you want to move with the music. Finally, Niall comes back to the reality that he desires no one else but the person he has been singing about this whole time, allowing the album to take a more acoustic and reflective mood.
I highly recommend listening through this album. Even if Niall’s music is typically not your style, I encourage you to look to new artists that can pique your interest. No matter what you are listening to, take the time to analyze themes, songs, lyrics and other musical elements in your favorite album. You will learn, as I have, to appreciate the work that artists put into their work and be able to connect with it on a deeper level.
Written by: Mike Tammaro
Mike is a Junior double majoring in Finance and Economics and writes for the blog in order to expand my skills as a student. As a business major, the curriculum does not allow for a lot of creative writing, so being able to publish written work is freeing from my normal educational routine.