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Ruth Radelet’s “Crimes”: A Test of Moral Limits

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In her new single “Crimes” Ruth Radelet gets vulnerable with us, posing tough questions about the values we subscribe to and how much it takes for us to forsake them. It’s a dreamy song that makes you want to swing around the room and slow dance while also pondering the questions it raises.

The song seems autobiographical in nature — considering the recent split of her former music group, Chromatics, I imagine Radelet was faced with many decisions during her career that challenged her morals and sense of self. “Crimes” is a culmination of her thoughts through these experiences that tested her.

“‘Crimes’ is about the pursuit of success at the expense of one’s integrity, and the exploitation of others in order to get ahead. It’s about the price we pay for our choices, and whether or not it’s worth it,” she explained in a statement. We see this internal struggle pan out in the lyrics of the song.

Is it easy to start over? / Is it easy to play the game? / Is it easy to forget your own name?

Radelet explained the first line in a statement: “The question, ‘Is it easy to start over?’ can be interpreted in two ways — it’s meant to ask how it feels to continually reinvent yourself until you lose sight of who you are. It also asks how hard it would be to walk away from it all.” 

The artist isn’t only asking herself these questions, she is asking her friends, industry colleagues, and her listeners. Based on Radelet’s experience, I assume the game she speaks of in the second line is fame or success. From the average person’s perspective, the game could be personal development, whether that be for good or evil. Forgetting one’s name can be likened to reinventing oneself or losing oneself, again all based on how you look at it.

Do you ever lie awake at night, just thinking? / Do they really look up to you? / Does it ever catch up to you?

Here we see an artist questioning her influence. If you do reinvent yourself for the sake of notoriety, how often does the authenticity of your status come into question? Once you’ve changed so much, do you ever sit back and reflect on it? The answer to the artist’s question is the question itself — The fact that the song exists is proof that people do wonder about these things. 

I’m wondering if the last line is supposed to allude to karma, or simply the realization that one has changed. It could be both, Radelet could be asking whether the questionable choices made during the process of self transformation ever come back to haunt us, and whether we yearn for our old selves.

It takes a special type of song to be thought-provoking without being too heavy. I’m not sure how Radelet was able to make such a complex topic sound so soothing, but she pulled it off flawlessly.

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