Dear Lykke Li, Sometimes I Collapse In Fancy Department Stores Too

[div:credit]Lykke Li

When you hit the dolomite bottom of your world, it is just as furtively beautiful and jagged as the quartz rock that broke you. Just as easily as you fall, flailing your arms in some hopeless attempt at saviour, you lie broken for too long, simply baffled at what made you trip in the first place while also trying your hardest not to recall it at all. 

It’s not quite clear when things begin to feel normal again, like normal used to be (just before you joyously bounded into the jutting spear) but somehow after walking around for months with a crystal dagger in your spine, it heals – the rock just a reminder of it all. The new growth mostly goes unnoticed at first, because it’s harder to see behind you than in front, but sometimes when dressing or undressing for a date you catch a glimpse of it in your reflection and so it never really leaves you.

That is, if you are me or Swedish indie crooner, Lykke Li, or one quarter of the concert-goers at the Toronto stop of her Wounded Rhymes tour – the other three quarters too young, too suburban, or too uncomplicated (but really the latter describes them all) to understand. They are simply there to mimic her on Lookbook, or because some electrode DJ sampled her on Hypem, or because she’s cool now – after having already toured here four times. The rest of us that get it, and her, congregated in a mutual understanding of undisguised and obsessive romanticism, malefic dark recesses and an inbred reclusiveness. 

Sure, we shared these similarities but things were different this time, because she was different this time, the speared stone still bleeding, glistened from the spotlight, its contours visible under her drapey black dress. Her voice still quavered the same way, her dance moves remained the same loose-limbed masquerade of a song, but there was something dying in front of us, all of us, and no one seemed to notice. 

Could it be that we wanted to see her this way? The rest of us who listened to her on repeat on sweaty summer days after sex with a man we couldn’t name, after running into someone whose face makes you want to grab onto their dagger for dear life, or love – or those of us who in dissolving moments want to put the troops away for good, to fall in love for good? Perhaps. After all, that feeling, the one that encompasses all these heart splinters is only everything she writes about. Except this time, she wasn’t just singing about it. Finally she was falling apart like we were.

But I suppose you can’t really call me a fan; for one I hadn’t bought a ticket, even though I had planned to; someone had just bailed last minute, but also because when I brought up her throbbing dagger wound to a friend, she looked at me for moments too long and stated – like I had just asked her how Osama was doing – ‘What? You don’t know what happened?’ No, I didn’t. She proceeded to tell me about this:

On a recent blog post she wrote:

I had some kind of complete meltdown on Marks&Spencer in Glasgow on one of those very rare days off while on route. For various reasons, various hardships sneaked up on me and I was standing at an isle contemplating life and death and the struggles of being an artist/soul/woman/human being when the overbearingness sneaked up on me like Batman himself. I fell to the floor and so did the raspberries I had in my hand.

It was one of her worst performances, a cold-blooded rendition of her music, like those moments when your body is still contorting around the jagged rocks of your fall and you have to answer the door after your best pal has come around everyday after work to check on you, when you have to take a shower because you haven’t in days, closer to a week, and the dry shampoo just isn’t cutting it, or perform in front of six hundred fans who have been waiting since February for your concert, all when you’ve only just died and been resurrected against your will. Yet, it was also one her most gut-wrenchingly affecting shows yet. 

Suddenly the lyrics to “Sadness is a Blessing” were no longer just comforting verses to her emo fans but indicative of a woman who in all her indie celeb glory was still immensely depleted of life’s fleeting elixir – love, obviously – and who, like most manic depressives and artists, needed real help and none of us had noticed until now, and most still hadn’t. 

I ranted, I pleaded, I beg him not to go
For sorrow, the only lover I’ve ever known
Every night I rant, I plead, I beg him not to go
Will sorrow be the only lover I can call my own?

It was, in some selfish manner, comforting to see her protruding dagger though. Because, similar to suicide, people don’t talk about how desperate things have become. You do the same mundane life things in the hope that you’ll stop noticing your hardship, heartbreak, and exhausting hustle to succeed, and then you end up collapsing in a department store while buying berries. It’s okay to fail, it’s okay to have your heart shredded into confetti pieces, it’s okay to struggle for the off chance that you can spend your life doing what you want and not some reincarnation of it. Because for those one third of us who haven’t settled for a cheap life of reflecting condos, dead-grey offices and a partner who fits five of the ten qualities you’ve made in a checklist on your fridge after a girls night in, the admirable aspirations you have are going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever tried to fulfill in your life. But know that even if you can’t see them, most of your awesome friends probably have a jagged row of rocks protruding from their backs too. TC mark

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  • Chloe

    Pretentious and ridiculous. “That is, if you are me or Swedish indie crooner, Lykke Li, or one
    quarter of the concert-goers at the Toronto stop of her Wounded Rhymes
    tour – the other three quarters too young, too suburban, or too
    uncomplicated (but really the latter describes them all) to understand.” Really? Everyone but you is boring?


  • NatalieKeshlear

    I love Lykke.

  • ...really?

    I'm no TC snob by any means, but what the fuck was this?? gtfo.

  • poorlazlo

    Feel like I should point out that Marks & Sparks isn't a fancy department store. It's where you buy pants and sandwiches. Lots of linoleum floors, etc.

  • Boring

    Psh, I'm WAY more complicated than you.

  • STOP

    Completely condescending, insulting, and pretentious. Is this girl in high school?

    TC, consider a feature that allows readers to filter out certain “authors”. Or, better yet, edit your submissions more closely.

  • itsguccitime

    It must have been so hard having to deal with an arena filled with 3/4 of uncomplicated fools. Because it's so hard to grasp the concept of decent pop..

    Anyway.. I was confused until you attempted to psychoanalyze lyrics.. then I was just bored.

  • Kate

    I was at the same concert and thought her performance was fantastic. I think most of the other attendees would agree with me that this couldn't possibly be “one of her worst performances,” even if we are too uncomplicated to understand how to properly enjoy an artist's music or attend their live shows. I've seen her live before, and she was equally as phenomenal this time. 

    By the way, your assumption that the majority of the people there weren't aware of her until recently, and that somehow you're much better than everyone else because of this, is wrong and incredibly pretentious.

  • Angie

    Beautifully written, great piece.

  • what

    i have no idea what you are talking about

  • inflammatorywrit

    You can tell how complicated people are just by looking at them? That must be really convenient. You know what's even more convenient? Assuming that every single person you see is just as equally human as you are, therefore just as complicated (though hopefully not as condescending) and complex. 

    And is making fun of the suburbs still considered edgy and cool? I got over that in middle school.

    • Woyzeck

      I always love your comments.

  • kaylee

    well, i liked it.

  • guest

    What is wrong with you?

  • dip

    no mom lykke li is REALLY COMPLICATED LOOK SHE COLLAPSED while buying clothes
    while eating raspberries

  • Another Guest

    This is a mess. Get over yourself.

  • rina

    so… this wasn't supposed to be ironic?

  • Lisbon

    It's funny when people smugly assess and classify stereotypes when they are completely unaware of what stereotypes they fit into themselves.  Let me make this a little more clear.  'Complicated' is not one you fall into.

  • Wow...

    Possibly the most pretentious article I've ever read on TC.

  • blair

    i dont know what makes me want to throw up more, what you wrote about the incident or what lykke li did… oh wait i do, what you wrote.  you are utter Crap.  the sentiment and overwrought metaphors look like something my 6th grade diary would have vomited up after a night of heavy drinking.

    • STOP


  • Annie

    what. the. fuck.  are you unaware of how huge a hit “little bit” was?  Pull out your “dagger” and go get some Tylenol, girl.

  • Guest

    This…. This is a joke, right? This is seriously nauseating, awful,  pretentious crap. Unless it's a joke because then it's fucking hilarious.

  • sadnessismygirlfriend

    the people that don't understand this article are those cheap people who went to the lykki li concert to dance to little bit. simple minded and boring people.

    this was beautiful. i had a mental breakdown due to a break up and all the people who are like get over yourself. shut the fuck up.

    i don't know if it's mental illness or whatever but i do this to songs like sadness is a blessing and feel like shit. lykki is beautiful. mental illness is beautiful too.

    and all those cheap and happy people do is cause pain. fuck you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • sloppysoup

      … why? why do you do this?

      • because

        she's (he's?) 13. I think that's the only kind of reason that could make any of it even remotely explainable (note: explainable does not equal ok).

    • Woyzeck

      Please don't say things like “mental illness is beautiful”. That causes pain too. So fuck you, you fucking hypocrite.

      The difference between you and other people: you assume your emotions are unique and special and you want everyone to make a fuss about you.

  • Bea

    nobody understands subtly anymore. 
    do authors have to always have to insert an obnoxious paragraph denouncing and making fun of everything they just wrote in order for anyone to understand what its supposed to be taken as on a whole?
    we like to talk about irony…but i'm guessing the only thing of irony we get is $90 tee shirts that look like they were shat upon. “Oh wait, that's how they are ironic…ohhhh!!! I get it nowww!!!”

  • sadnessismygirlfriend

    really? you are a bunch of fucking assholes, the people who hated this article.

    omg i am never going to get over my break up. sorry if i'm not as mentally stable or happy as you.

    i was completely shocked and depressed and it took months for me to even act normal again.

    people called me pretentious. people called me pathetic. really wtf?

    how is the rest of the population so numb?

    maybe that's why the black eyed peas are so famous.

    people just want to dance and be mindless.

    it's okay to feel sad and pathetic.

    it's okay to listen to sad and pathetic lyrics by morrissey.

    it's okay to be a sissy.

    it's okay to mope around.

    i'm not as happy as you are.

    what do you want me to do.

    i know i'm pathetic.

    i know i'm a sissy.

    i want to write depressing poems about my feelings.

    leave me alone.

    call me pretentious.

    i don't care.

    call me a freak because i have mental breakdowns in public.

    i don't care.

    you will never understand.

    you are happy and stupid.

    i'm a pathetic loser.

    i can't be as happy as you are.

    leave me alone.

    those are my honest feelings.

    i hate happy people.

    i'm not being sarcastic.

    none of you should be allowed to listen to the smiths.


    • Bro


    • guest

      Is this funny?  I can't tell anymore.

      • damo

        i think an adjective between 'funny' and 'terrifying' would do the trick.

    • sloppysoup

      what exactly are you doing here? no… really. i'm confused.

    • ...really?

      this reads like a poorly written myspace “about me”. ew.

    • STOP

      so… just checking: is this a reflection of the content and readership of this website now? this entire experience has been a flashflood of old, antiquated feelings that i parted ways with when i hit puberty. insultingly delivered as a sneak attack through a website i was already questioning my allegiance to.
      very upsetting, TC! its been real.

    • inflammatorywrit

      “none of you should be allowed to listen to the smiths. “This is the funniest thing I think I've ever see.

    • Woyzeck

      “you are a bunch of fucking assholes, the people who hated this article.”

      We're not though really though, because assholes let any old shit past them. We have standards.

  • misskimball

    I've been in glasgow marks and spencer, the food department is in the basement and it feels weird down there. it's an old building, maybe it was a dungeon or something. it's also full of severe businesswomen in severe suits and media guys pushing you out of the way. I feel this was a deliberate psychic attack on lykke

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