“hungover u” is an electric high energy song by Rilan about a toxic relationship through an analogy about one’s dependency on alcohol and drugs.
The depressing notion of being addicted and attached to something that is extremely harming oneself is contrasted by the seemingly upbeat pop soundtrack. Rather than each part, dark and light, topic and soundtrack, alienating each other, they work perfectly together to encapsulate the theme of the song: staying in harmful relationships because there are still good parts and it’s hard to leave. Throughout the song, Rilan sings with raw emotion, capturing the struggle of acknowledging the unhealthiness of the relationship and wanting to leave but still not being able to do so. Through his voice he embodies the “emotional hangover” he described in regards to the toxic relationship “hungover u” is about. A couple lines really stood out to me were “i don’t know what the fuck to do” and “i don’t know when i’ve had enough.” Both lines captured the duality of the toxic relationship Rilan is describing. The harshness of the ‘fuck’ in the first line in addition to Rilan’s intonation and emphasis (like an iambic pentameter) express the anguish of the situation and causes the listener to feel the pain sepping from Rilan and the problematic relationship.
Even the instruments add to the anguish, emotions, and meaning. Throughout the song, certain lyrics are echoed, becoming a part of the soundtrack, reverberating through the listener's head. The echoes evoke the feeling of being stuck. In addition, the drum beats pulsate through my head, like they are beating and pounding, almost mimicking headaches one can have when hungover.
The anguish and pain seems to boil over in the final third of the song when the rhythm, instruments, and Rilan’s voice change. The part repeats the same couple of lines twice, channeling the repeating cycles of the relationship, knowing it’s bad but still staying over and over again.
Rilan is an LA based artist, originally from New Orleans with his songs crossing genres from pop to electric pop to R&B. Rilan not only can craft beautifully written and produced songs, but creates whole experiences through his music videos, working on design, costume, and choreography of his music videos.
By Anne Friedman