Joji – Ballads 1 – Lyrical Highlights

As I sat down and started choosing which lyrics to talk about for this record, I hit a wall. Normally I would choose only five lines or parts to discuss, and maybe include a bonus one if I’m feeling it’s really worthy. But with this one, I had a hard time picking any at all. When I was trying to pick apart specific pieces to talk about, I realized that they either didn’t make sense to take out the entire context of the song or just weren’t significant enough on their own. I didn’t like the way I was trying to reason through all of these small bits when in reality, the songs as a whole were so much more remarkable. So, with that being said, I am going to be trying out something new. For this lyrical highlight article, I will be discussing the lyrical content of five songs as a whole instead of choosing a few lines here and there. Ballads 1 is a remarkable album that deserves more of a discussion than just a few lyrics and I highly encourage anyone to talk a listen to the full-length project.

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“ATTENTION”

The line that caught my attention on this track was the one that goes “When you cry, you waste your time / Over boys you never liked” and from that moment, I was hooked. This song details the situation where Joji really likes a girl who only chases after boys who don’t really care about her, but she doesn’t care about them all that much either. It’s a very specific scenario but one that I’m sure many people can attest to being in.

“SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK”

This track is another one that focuses on the hardships of being in a relationship, only from a slightly different perspective, all while creating some really interesting imagery. This time, he has the girl but knows they’re doomed from the start, and she looks at him like he’s a different person, indicating that she also doesn’t want this relationship to happen. “Slow dancing in the dark” could allude to a couple different things but my takeaway is this: clearly, one of them, or possibly both is trying to keep either their relationship or feelings a secret from each other or everyone else. Slow dancing is intimate and romantic but doing it in the dark would imply that you’re not ready to showcase those feelings.

“TEST DRIVE”

Quite honestly one of the easiest songs to interpret on here, and that’s probably what I enjoy most about it. He’s comparing this relationship to shopping around for a car, where he’s in it for the long run but this girl is only around to test drive and leave. I particularly like the way the concept is played out on this one.

“WHY AM I STILL IN LA”

This song departs from the theme of personal relationships for a minute and talks about living in Los Angeles, California and how artificial it is. Joji creates this image of the people there as being invincible and never backing down with the lines “My last time, they ask “why” / Like they can’t die”, alluding to drug problems that they appear to be brushing off as nothing major. The track also touches on feeling suffocated with the opening lines of “You chose me sitting airtight / Ziplock right now” which really makes the listener feel the words he’s singing.

“NO FUN”

In this track, we see Joji admitting that he lost his friends because he stopped spending time with them, but doesn’t care about it one bit. This song goes deeper than just that thought, as signified by the lines “Feel dead but I feel my bones / I hide out in my throne”. What I take away from this is possibly depression or something else that’s getting in the way of him not seeing his friends. On the surface, it may seem like he’s just avoiding people on purpose but there’s definitely something deeper going on here.

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