On my first listen of “Friend of a Friend” by Calan Mai, I couldn’t help but notice the weight he puts on each and every word with his annunciation. The two main musical elements are the piano and Mai’s voice, and the two blended with each other perfectly. More than that, the lyrics were beyond relatable, as vocals and chords told the story of the aftermath of a breakup.
While who broke up with who is more up to the listener to decide, it is clear that the woman is with another guy at this point, as is evident by the repeated pre-chorus:
When you’re home late,
does he wait up?
Do you need to put makeup on?
Are you happy
when he’s happy?
Are you faking when he takes too long?
What I found most meaningful was the line “are you happy when he’s happy,” because that is the biggest telltale sign that a relationship is either good, or amazing. If your significant other is happy solely because you are ‒ and vice versa ‒ there’s a true connection there. In this situation, I think Mai knows the answer to the previous question is “no,” or at least that’s what he hopes it to be.
On the second time through the pre-chorus, Mai adds two stanzas in between it and the following chorus (by the way, the chorus is different either time, and I’m only using the second one here):
Does he capture
Do you ever even mention me?
I’ll be happy
if you’re happy.
I’ll be waiting if it’s meant to be.
And then finishes with the second version of the chorus:
And I’m gettin’ better
at letting you go,
but if you leave him,
could you let me know?
The inversion of “are you happy when he’s happy” with “I’ll be happy if you’re happy” really hits you in the feels.
Not only does it show that he wants her to be happy even while they’re not together, but it emphasizes the fact that even if her being happy with another guy brings him pain, he’ll be happy that she’s happy nonetheless. Normally, people in this situation would either care less about their breakup because it was a rough separation, or jealous because they were the ones broken up with. This is a sign that true love is present, as is reinforced by the line “if you leave him could you let me know?”
During the added stanzas, prior to the second chorus, the piano essentially cuts out (the chord progression is there, but far more subtle). This could indicate that he’s thinking more clearly here, but it could also simply be highlighting the contradiction of his words: him getting better at letting her go, yet still wanting to know if she breaks up with the new guy (a.k.a. if he still has a chance).
Anyways, the last thing I want to mention is the outro of the song, which in larger part is played by the piano. While throughout the song the piano took a slight backseat to Mai’s voice, here it is switched around as his repetition of “I hope so” fades out at the end. The “I hope so” is obviously referencing the final stanza, as he still wants there to be a chance that the two of them can get back together. With that in mind, I think it’s almost a false hope due to the musical cues. Just as the vocals are first to fade out, so too will his hope for reuniting.
All things considered, it sucks finding out about how your ex is fairing after your breakup from the “friend of a friend.”
If you want to get even more in your feels, check out the video.
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