Home Song Reviews “Thank You” by Madison Olds Puts a Twist on Heartbreak

“Thank You” by Madison Olds Puts a Twist on Heartbreak

by Bailey Johnk

Love songs have been around for longer than most think – centuries even – and though we try to stay positive, love often goes hand in hand with heartbreak.

We can only imagine as music lovers how long the good old heartbreak song has been around. Each heartbreak is a little different, so it makes sense that each heartbreak song is a little different. ABBA wrote “The Winner Takes It All”, a somber song about a past lover having the upper hand, 42 years ago. On the other hand, Taylor Swift wrote “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, a song telling off a subpar boyfriend who won’t take the hint, just 6 years ago. This is a perfect example of the wide time span and wide array of messages breakup songs have created. They’re simply timeless.

But why? Here’s what I think.

Humans will never stop getting their hearts broken.

Everyone has experienced the feeling, big or small. And heartbreak always feels the same among all people, no matter how the actual breaking plays out. Somehow, though, in 2018, Madison Olds has turned the heartbreak song on its head with her new single, “Thank You”… and you don’t need an ex and a tub of ice cream to enjoy it.

Madison Olds is a Canadian singer/songwriter who enjoys writing pop, contemporary and folk-pop music. She lists her favorite artists as Ed Sheeran and Julia Michaels, and their musical influence becomes apparent once you listen to her two singles before “Thank You”. Her first, “Moments in the Mountains”, is an upbeat, lively song, strongly based in guitar and topped off with tender vocals. The sound of this song leans more towards Ed Sheeran’s acoustic pop style. “Can’t Touch”, on the other hand, is filled with electronic pop music, and her vocals become more sultry and snappy, similar to the way Julia Michaels sings. With “Thank You”, Olds managed to combine the characteristics of her first two singles (and her two musical influences) to form a well rounded, memorable pop song.

In the beginning of “Thank You”, the music is in the same strain as “Can’t Touch” – an electronic pop melody. The instrumentation of the melody sounds almost like a distorted xylophone, echoey and enchanting. As the song progresses, Olds adds more harmonies to make it fuller. They switch between clashing together and flowing side by side; the collisions and constants between them are just enough to add a striking layer to the music. At the end of the chorus, Olds sustains the note on the first “heart” but modulates it, which results in a series of funky, out of the box pitches. It’s little details like this that differentiate it from typical pop songs.

She also continues to make the song special by repeating the word “heart” three times, while cutting out the music and adding an odd clatter of drums. Often, in “Thank You”, the beats will fade in and out, making the song straddle the lines between acoustic and radio pop. For example, in the chorus, the electronic beat fades back to reveal a piano, which makes the vocals more distinct. Her singing becomes very powerful, emphasizing the message of the lyrics very clearly. This happens again in the bridge, but this time to reveal a guitar. In the very last chorus, the intricate beat shifts to something more simple, sounding more like a clap than pop percussion. This makes it clear to the listener that Olds may have written and produced the song to work well in a live performance setting. It’s a smart move on her behalf. But the music is only half of the story.

I say I don’t care, I don’t need ya,

then I try not to stare when I see ya.

The shake in my voice gave it all away.

With these lyrics, Olds tries to play it off like the end of the relationship isn’t affecting her. She wants to be rid of the emotional connection to her ex, but she hasn’t moved forward yet. She keeps checking up on him and still feels the pain.

You say that were done, it’s over

but I didn’t get the comfort of closure,

and I never got the chance to say…

Breaking up on someone else’s terms is always harder than pulling the trigger yourself. She clearly didn’t have a choice in the matter and it seems a conversation was never had between the two. She never got a reason or a proper goodbye and never got to say her side. The ties between them were not fully cut.

Thank you for breaking me down.

I learned who I was

and I love what I found.

This is the chorus, but also the big twist in the story.

Sure, she may be broken, but she’s thanking this person for breaking her in the first place. When you’re in a relationship, you begin to function as a unit or pair. When this ends, you have to remember what it’s like to be independent again. Throughout this process, it’s clear she’s learned a lot about herself, and found that she loves herself even more than she did before.

So thank you for leaving your scars.

I picked up the pieces when I fell apart.

Thank you for breaking my heart.

This heartbreak will forever be in her memory. She will never forget it; it’s something she’ll always carry with her, much like a physical scar. But she’s building herself back up again.

I needed you to be my ending to have a brand new beginning.

You gave me a fresh start.

Thank you for breaking my heart.

This first line is very reminiscent of Semisonic’s “Closing Time”. Lead vocalist Dan Wilson wrote “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”. Both this line and Olds’s line share the same meaning: in order to start something fresh and new, you need to let go of the past and let things come to an end. Rather than being sad it’s over, she’s happy because there’s new chances and opportunities.

Kept promising you were trying.

Deep down I knew you were lying.

The shake in your voice gave it all away.

Her partner had stopped putting effort into the relationship and that is always a recipe for failure. Relationships are a two way street; both people must work to keep things healthy and happy.

But it turns out I’m stronger now,

yeah, I’m doing okay on my own somehow.

The world keeps spinning,

round and round and round.

Though there’s a chance to start something new, Olds is finding that she’s starting to thrive even though she is alone. The world constantly spinning is just another way of saying that life goes on and she will too.

Truth is, I needed to see my heart bleeding.

Truth is, I needed to see my heart bleeding.

She needed to have her heart broken to know she was capable of reinventing herself.

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