In her hit single, “21“, Gracie Abrams sings about the pain and heartache of lost love. She mourns a recent breakup, feeling a mix of regret and thinking of what could’ve been. Although it is unknown what caused the two to separate, Abrams utilizes strong poetic language to express just how much of a toll it had taken on her, physically and mentally. She later commented that this song allowed her to say everything she had to say that she was unable to do before, allowing her to release her bottled up feelings, much like poetry itself. Abrams writes
I’m sorry if you blame me, if I were you I would
Thought you’d see it coming, but you never could
I still haven’t heard from your family
But you said your mom always loved me
Abram’s use of AABB rhyming scheme helps pull the reader in to the story she is telling. Her song is directed towards the person she is missing, while also being able to resonate with a general audience of listeners who may have gone through a similar experience. This makes the song more real, diving more into the aftermath of a breakup that involves not only the severed bond between those dating, but to the other’s family as well.
Just because you’re hurting doesn’t mean I’m not
If it doesn’t go away by the time I turn thirty
I made a mistake and I’ll tell you I’m sorry
Her use of “Hurting” here goes both ways, both for the other person and herself. She shoulders the blame and regret, which people may use as a way to justify the pain she is feeling. But it goes beyond that, showing the weight of a breakup and how it affects both parties, no matter how big or small.
When the night is over
Don’t call me up I’m already under
Abram’s multidimensional language used here is the many interpretations of “under”. She’s at her lowest underneath, out of reach of those around her. She feels crushed under self-loathing and past mistakes. Someone going under is another way to say that they are feeling defeated and overwhelmed. It all ties back to her central theme that inspects all layers of her pain, from the surface level to the furthest depths. Along with this, she utilizes contrast with two opposites by following “up” with “under”. She feels submerged in her misery, unable to reach the surface or free herself of drowning guilt that would plague her for years.