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Music Notes: ‘Nothing Matters’ expresses frustrations with dating culture

“Nothing Matters” is a viral hit from The Last Dinner Party, a British pop-rock group that has opened for icons like The Rolling Stones and been praised by musicians such as Florence Welch. With a rare baroque pop sound, this song shows off the strengths of this all-girl group.

Fresh off the band’s first album, “Prelude to Ecstacy,” this track has a distinct earworm thanks to its chorus, which we’ll dive into later. However, its opening instrumentation is also important to note, as the pounding of an organ and strums of harps make it feel like the Baroque period itself.

The Baroque period of the 1600s and 1700s was defined by luxury and glamor. Britannica names its key elements: “grandeur, sensuous richness, drama, dynamism, movement, tension, emotional exuberance and a tendency to blur distinctions between the various arts.” 

The Last Dinner Party blurs the lines between music and drama in this track, as lead singer Abigail Morris uses her voice as almost a monologue in the opening lines. She sings, “I have my sentence now / At last, I know just how you felt / I dig my fingers in, expecting more than just the skin,” allowing listeners to picture a post-romantic encounter. 

In the song, Morris questions her attraction to a person in a nihilistic way, hence the title. The band explains how nothing is permanent today, especially with many global issues like climate change and political unrest. Also, the apathy in “Nothing Matters” can be attributed to today’s dating culture, as the band’s stance on love from the female-identifying perspective is clearly lackluster.

This sentiment is addressed further in the pre-chorus. Morris compares herself to the person she had an encounter with, yet these comparisons severely contrast with one another. She says, “‘Cause we’re a lot alike / In favor, like a motorbike / A sailor and a nightingale / Slow dancing in convertibles,” and these stark differences symbolize how different men and women treat one-night stands. While Morris, as the speaker, is trying to convince herself that the two could work, her tone also has a hint of doubt in it, proving the pair’s different takes on love.

Once the song jumps into the chorus, the growling bass and the band’s mocking background vocals emerge. The chorus sees a shift in tone as Morris lets go of her fantasies to admit that the person she feels attraction towards could care less about her. She sings, “And you can hold me like he held her / And I will f- - - you like nothing matters,” her tone much sharper and sarcastic than what listeners are first introduced to.

This shift in tone is important for female-identifying listeners of modern pop music because it is a common experience in the dating scene. The band, therefore, uses a pessimistic tone in the chorus to emphasize how hard it is to be taken seriously as a woman by men, and as a result, women should just focus on finding excitement in other places. Simply, “nothing matters” refers to many men’s carefree stance on love, and women should also be able to subscribe to it.

Following the highly dramatic chorus is another line that provides more interesting imagery. The lines, “We’ve got the highway tight / The moon is bursting with headlights / One more and we’re away / Love tender in your Chevrolet,” imply that Morris has pursued someone else, finding thrill in experimentation. While the lyrics don’t make much sense, they contain an element of dynamism, as Morris keeps moving and trying out new encounters to seek sexual satisfaction, which is liberating in itself.

With this encounter, Morris suggests the situation could be more than a few hookups in the backseat of a car. She says, “Even when the cold comes crashing through / I’m putting all my bets on you / I hope they never understand us,” and in this moment of the song listeners begin to interpret the title of the song as a double-meaning. 

Instead of being anti-dating or anti-love, Morris encourages people to see “Nothing Matters” as a mantra adopted by those who are deeply in love, as nothing else matters in the moment with someone you love. 

The song ends with two repetitions of the chorus, the band’s loud and exuberant sound coming to a peaceful halt. Morris’s vocals are isolated at the end as well, echoing into the distance as listeners are left feeling inspired to chase after their personal fantasies.

Overall, “Nothing Matters” is a well-thought-out pop song, integrating many different tones and perspectives on love and dating that can’t always be expressed so effortlessly in the genre. Even if it is a viral TikTok song, it’s impressive and thought-provoking, especially when looking at it through the female gaze.


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