Aly & AJ – “Like It Or Leave It” – Song Discussion

Back in the late 2000’s, we were all blessed with the absoluter banger that was “Potential Breakup Song” by Aly & AJ, a song that made you angry at a boyfriend that you didn’t even have and a song that I used to sing very poorly when my friends and I played Disney’s Sing It on my Playstation 2 (anyone else remember that game?). Little did I know, however, the “Potential Breakup Song” was just the tip of the iceberg for the girls. Their 2007 album, Insomniatic, contains not only that hit song but eleven other tracks that are simply all killer and no filler. I know for a group that was featured primarily on Disney Channel, it’s easy to overlook their talent and regard them as just music for children. But despite that, their music was impeccably written mainly by the two sisters and very intricately produced, to the point where it’s hard to believe they were teenagers when this was recorded.

So many songs are truly fantastic and worth talking about, and while I considered talking about the album was a whole, I really just wanted to focus on track number 5, which is possibly the most creative and intricate song on here, titled “Like It Or Leave It”. When I sat down to listen to this project, this song stuck in my mind long after I heard it and is far superior in terms of production and delivery when compared to most of the others. The track opens up with a simple guitar riff and fast paced drum, which transitions into a heavy pop punk inspired guitar for just a few seconds before calming down again. This small blip of pop punk is actually supported by another rock sounding guitar that’s layered so subtly in the background you might miss if you don’t listen close enough. Based on this intro, it’s easy to believe that this is going to be just another mid 2000s pop rock song but when we get to the chorus, we’re unexpectedly hit with a bright, major key and clean, energetic vocals. The second verse that comes next goes through the same motions as the first, but after such a dramatic change it’s very welcoming to go back to the heavier side of things. The second chorus is also basically the same as the first, just with more synth embellishments than before. But where it really gets exciting is this bridge, which is a relaxed rock leaning breakdown paired with very fast lyrics that gives us a little break from this high velocity track before tearing into the final chorus to finish us out.

If the instrumental wasn’t spontaneous enough, even the lyrics leave us in limbo. Just like many other tracks, this is one is about a relationship but while the others are super clear in their content and message, this one hesitates to really give a satisfying answer. The song outlines this relationship where the significant other basically wants what they want, and they want it right now. Our narrator is telling them that they have to wait (this could allude to many different situations, use your imagination here) and that she’s worth all of the struggles and the impatience that they’re experiencing because of her. But where this track differs is that at the end, we really don’t know if this significant other has stuck around with her or not, giving us a sense of confusion and leaving us on a cliffhanger than we’ve definitely all experience in one way or another when it comes to relationships. The way that this song plays out feels very real and doesn’t hold back, which makes up for the missing “happy ever after” ending.

This song is so cool because it’s not typical in many ways. The instrumental has aspects of pop punk and neon pop, which might have been intentional but I can’t really tell. Regardless, it’s exciting all the way through without a dull bit at any point in time, and all the varying tempos and guitar parts are never awkward or misplaced. It’s a little experimental compared to the rest and is very ambitious, easily showcasing the girls’ talents as musicians. The lyrics are blunt enough but also leave plenty to be interpreted and the way their vocals blend together is absolutely perfect. Now, please excuse me while I go listen this song for the twentieth time today.

Singles

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