The world woke Sept. 5 to massive billboards featuring a man stripped down to only his boxers and sunglasses while holding a cocktail. The man? Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi. The reason for this scandalous display? Promoting his new single “Forget Me.”
“Forget Me” is Capaldi’s return to the spotlight after a two-year hiatus following the release of his debut album “Divinely Inspired to a Hellish Extent” and breakthrough single “Someone You Loved,” which earned him his first Grammy nomination and, as of right now, is the sixth most streamed song on Spotify with 2.3 billion streams. Capaldi further dominated 2019 with the release of his deeply personal “Before You Go” and was set to open for Niall Horan’s Nice to Meet Ya Tour — though COVID-19 had other plans.
Capaldi made history by becoming the first artist to sell out his own arena tour before the release of an album. But what truly sets Capaldi apart from the rest of his fellow ballad-esque musicians — like James Arthur and Sam Smith — is his entirely opposite online personality rooted in irony, quips and self-deprecating humor. Permanently disheveled, Capaldi loves nothing more than to post unflattering selfies and make crude jokes. Scrolling through his Twitter feed you can find him musing at his uncanny similarity to U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss, getting excited about the Grammys or hitting back at haters.
This contradictory combination of sincere, anguish-filled music and a highly-relatable, down-to-earth personality has created quite a rabid fan base for Capaldi. As such, “Forget Me” had a high bar to reach. Luckily, it delivered.
Lyrically, Capaldi goes back to his roots by writing according to his magic formula that he discusses in his statement about the new song: “I meet lady, lady leaves me, I whine about it in a pop song. Textbook.” But more specifically, “Forget Me” is a song that speaks to the post-breakup heartache: seeing your ex move on. Capaldi sings that despite the years since the breakup, he can’t bear the thought of his ex partner forgetting about him. He’d rather hear how much she regrets him — a sentiment I’m sure many people can share.
Capaldi previously covered the topic of heartbreak in fan-favorite songs like “Bruises” and “Hold Me While You Wait.” “Bruises” deals with the emptiness that comes at the end of a relationship while “Hold Me While You Wait” details the uncertainty and desperation of being in a relationship with an indecisive partner. The majority of Capaldi’s first album dealt with breakups in one way or another, the only exception being “Someone You Loved,” which Capaldi has said to be about his grandmother.
Although “Forget Me” offers nothing new in terms of lyrics and storytelling, breakups and heartache are where Capaldi’s raspy voice shines, and the single is an epic reminder of this.
It would be a mistake to think that “Forget Me” is simply another version of Capaldi’s past hits. Instead of experimenting lyrically, Capaldi elects to play more sonically. While “Forget Me” is an undeniably sad song, it shows a marked upbeatness that his past tracks lacked. Underlying the piano chords that characterized Capaldi’s first album is a rhythmic drive that keeps the song from getting bogged down in its forlorn lyrics. The bridge is where this sonic experimentation truly excels. We get to chant along with Capaldi as he repeats “I’m not ready to let you forget me,” creating a cathartic release of lingering feelings.
“Forget Me” is a solid reentrance into the music industry as Capaldi takes what he does best — play at our heartstrings — and reinvents it to keep the audience engaged. But, for fans of Capaldi’s trademark heartbreaking ballads, rest assured: Capaldi still has “plenty of depressing ballands up his sleeve.” Perhaps he will debut more in his potential sophomore album or continue to experiment with his sounds. Either way, fans will be eagerly awaiting his next scandalous billboard announcement.
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