In the past six months, several artists have released songs detailing their personal struggles with mental health, fame and the pressures of being an artist.
Waterparks recently released the lead single from their forthcoming album, "Entertainment." This will be Waterparks’ second album. The band have achieved breakout success in the last year, which has come with its consequences, according to “Blonde’s” lyrics: “I was stuck at home for some months/ I didn't love myself/Before we sold out shows/Before I needed help” and “I feel trapped in contracts/I'm depressed, tied in gift wrap /I'm seconds from bottles /When these seconds feel awful.” It’s clear that this song is about mental health, resulting from the pressures of being a successful touring band.
Waterparks isn’t the only band to link mental health and fame recently. Paramore’s talks about the burden resulting with being placed on a pedestal and PVRIS’s deals with the band’s exponential rise to fame. Paramore and PVRIS are on opposite sides of the spectrum—Paramore is a long—standing pop–punk staple, almost veteran band, whose members achieved massive success at a young age and had to grow up in the spotlight. Paramore has recently returned with their first album in four years, after an extensive period of no touring. PVRIS achieved unprecedented rapid success in the last three years, following the release of their debut album White Noise in 2014. This put a lot of pressure on them when it came to recording a sophomore release. PVRIS’s position is applicable to Waterparks’ breakthrough success, rapid popularity, fear of the “sophomore slump” and adapting to life on the road. But these themes are being addressed by a wide variety of bands, of all ages and levels of fame.
All Time Low said on that their song, “speaks to the part of who we are that always wants to please, trying to live up to the expectations of the spotlight pointed back at us. We try so hard to become what we think the world wants that sometimes we lose touch with who we really are.”
These songs have all come out recently, and almost feel to be in conversation with each other. It could be because artists are now feeling more comfortable expressing these feelings more openly in their songs. That's the important part—both bands and fans become more confident discussing issues of mental health and that we are able to have more open and productive conversations about mental health.
It’s upsetting to think that music and the effort put into tours and albums can bring joy to so many and at the same time can also be causing others mental anguish. But that makes it even more important to speak up, because music in many ways can be a means through which we can continue conversation on mental health.
PVRIS frontwoman Lynn Gunn she went through prior to recording their 2017 album, "All We Know of Heaven, All We Know of Hell." She said, “Everything was going so well for us and we had crazy success in what we were doing and, in theory, you should be happy and, in theory, you should be on top of the world, feel amazing. For me, it was the complete opposite.”
Although the story is deeply saddening, it's comforting to hear this kind of sentiment from someone who serves as a role model to so many.
In an about the song “Anyone Else,” Lynn Gunn wrote, “Like many artists, I find myself constantly torn between wanting to completely bare my soul to everyone, while at the same time, bottle everything up and keep myself hidden. In a way, we are always stripping away parts of ourselves to make the things we present you.”
She said, “This song was started for someone else, another little piece pulled off, but it ultimately turned into something written to and for myself. It helped me realize no matter how many pieces of myself I might strip away for others, whether that is in loving someone or through sharing music like this, other pieces will always remain.”