“The Divide” is one of my new favorite songs of the year! JoJo Worthington’s new single is about the current political climate where everything seems split between two starkly opposing opinions. In the song, she focuses on the people in the middle: those whose opinion stands between the polar opposites.
Worthington says, “You know in movies when there’s an earthquake and the earth splits open and it separates the protagonist and the love interest and then sometimes you see people fall in the gap? It’s kinda about the people in the gap and trying to find a home there.”
Her vivid imagery in describing the song comes through in the song itself. Its story-like lyrics carry a powerful message that’s even more captivating due to Worthington’s mesmerizing vocals.
“The Divide” opens with a short, quiet soundtrack. Then, Worthington’s soft, strong vocals come through as she sings the opening lyrics: “I can feel the drift between us / you and me and the divide.” From the beginning, Worthington wants to ground the listener in what “The Divide” addresses, so the listener knows what it’s about.
In the opening verse, she sings, “you’ve grown up in your thinking / that’s it's you against the world.” The line captured my attention because it points to one of the root causes of the different opinions: being raised around a specific belief. I loved how factual she put it, not blaming them for their beliefs because, in reality, they can’t help it: it’s what they’ve known. It’s really easy for one to place blame and demean those with differing opinions, but Worthington never does that because that would be counterproductive to her goal. She wants to bring awareness to the problematic nature of a starkly polar political climate. Her song is refreshing in a world that wants to villainize those with different beliefs.
Another line that stood out to me was in the second verse, Worthington sings, “sometimes I don’t know what to think or do.” I loved her vulnerability because it gave strength and validity to the notion of not knowing. In a world where opposing beliefs seem to act as right and wrong, it’s really hard to have a belief that isn’t completely one or the other, as well as it’s hard to navigate the world. Knowing other people are struggling and are also clueless helps highlight that you are not alone in your thinking and struggle. I really related to her feelings and appreciated her saying it.
At the end of the second verse, Worthington discusses death and what happens after. She includes the lyric: “Will any of the things we fought about matter then?” While I think she is pointing to the futility of fighting those with opposite beliefs and critiquing how our world works, the discussions reminded me a lot about religion, which is one of the things that cause the divide. Many people view their religion as truth and look down upon those who don’t believe in it, creating part of the divide. Worthington questions the current political atmosphere, suggesting with her question that it’s worthless and we should work to create a more equal, kind world.
Furthermore, throughout most of the song, Worthington’s vocals are joined by a simple soundtrack: a guitar and electronic harmonies. The soundtrack of “The Divide” highlights and emphasizes Worthington’s vocals and her message, allowing both parts to stand out.
However, in the bridge, initially, no soundtrack can be heard, but the soundtrack amplifies until it seems to drown out Worthington’s singing. I really loved that choice because it added emotion. Throughout the bridge, Worthington repeats the same lyrics. As the soundtrack gets louder, her singing does too. It feels desperate and sad: she’s on the edge and is pleading for change.
“The Divide” ends with loud, harsh beats. There are about 10 seconds of them, a complete contrast to the rest of the sound. The beat feels like an ominous warning, cautioning against continuing with the same way of treating those with different opinions and creating a divide. The beats also feel like Worthington is emptying all her anger and emotions.
Not only is “The Divide” a fun song to listen to, but it is also really thoughtful and introspective. “The Divide” causes you to think about yourself and your beliefs, specifically how your beliefs have shaped and affected you and how you understand the world.
“The Divide” comes from JoJo Worthington’s heart and is an incredible song. It is one I fell in love with and will be listening to and recommending it often.
JoJo Worthington is a Montreal-based singer-songwriter. Her songs tend to push “emotionally potent songs to the perilous edge.” She began releasing music over a decade ago. Her debut album, 7, was released in 2015, with two more albums released in 2016 and 2017. In her newest project, BAPTIZED I, Worthington goes deep, examining herself and her personal experiences such as childhood, relationships, and the present world. Through BAPTIZED I, Worthington hopes to understand the world as well as find purpose and knowledge. She has toured internationally, opening for Mappe Of, Novo Amor, Ariana Gillis, Frightened Rabbit, Great Lake Swimmers, and The Grapes of Wrath. She’s also won awards from the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and the Independent Music Awards. Worthington is “one of the most forward-thinking musicians of her generation.”
Written by Anne Friedman