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This week, we dive into Class of 2013 from Mitskis album, Retired from Sad, New Career in Business. What is the meaning behind this song, and how does the lyrics, melody, and instrumental add to the message? Find out on this weeks Buzz Beats, where we analyze Class of 2013.
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BUZZ BEATS: “Class of 2013” by Mitski

Kenny Sun
Mitski at Paradise Rock Club in Boston, MA

Mitsuki Miyawaki, known as Mitski, is an American singer and songwriter. She self-released her first two albums, Lush and Retired from Sad, New Career in Business, while studying studio composition at Purchase College’s Conservatory of Music. The albums were originally made as her senior project. A drag performer named Pixel, who attended the same college as Mitski, is featured in the album cover photo for this album.

This week’s Buzz Beats is going to be a bit different than usual. This will be a song analysis instead of a music review. I chose this song because it’s been one of my favorites for a while now, and I think the message behind it is very relatable for a lot of seniors worried about graduation and their futures.

“Class of 2013” shows Mitski as she suffers to grow up, pursue her dreams, and leave her childhood behind. The story is a very relatable topic, especially for a lot of people who are still confused about what they want to do with their lives and are also struggling to let go of their childhood, admitting that they’re growing up and moving on. Although Mitski knows she needs to grow up, she struggles with not wanting to leave her childhood behind and also not burdening her mother anymore by staying. The raw emotion portrayed through Mitski’s vocals, the instrumental, and the meaning behind the song portray how heartbreaking growing up can be.

[Verse 1]
Mom, I’m tired
Can I sleep in your house tonight?

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As a child, children usually slept in their parents bed to rid of the fear from things such as nightmares or fears of the dark. Mitski asking to sleep at her mother’s house is likely a play on this, trying to fight the fears of growing up by staying with her mother.

Mom, is it alright
If I stay for a year or two?

After graduating High School, many graduates are expected to know what they want to do with their lives, and move on to bigger and better things. However, Mitski is not ready to grow up just yet, and asks her mother to stay for just another year or two to hold onto that last piece of childhood she has.

[Verse 2]
Mom, I’ll be quiet
It would be just to sleep at night

Mitski does not want to burden her mother, only have a safe space to come back to when she’s tired or burnt out from the experiences of growing up. By telling her it will just be to sleep at night, she wants her mother to know she’s not abusing her privileges, but rather just getting that last bit of hope and strength to move on.

And I’ll leave once I figure out
How to pay for my own life too

Mitski will allow her mother to live without having to worry about her daughter once she is able to figure out what to do with her life, find the resources to get there, and move on. This is one of the most difficult things to do after graduation, as separating from your parents is such a heartbreaking process.

[Verse 3]
Mom, would you wash my back
This once, and then we can forget

Here, there can be two meanings to this lyric. On one hand, Mitski could be referring to the idiom “you wash my back; I’ll wash yours.” This combines the idioms, “one hand washes the other” and “You scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours”. By having her mother to lean on, she can not only have a support system, but be able to return that favor once she is able to grow up. On the other hand, this lyric could symbolize Mitski’s mental state, being so burnt out that she cannot even wash herself, and needs her mother’s help to bathe her, as if she was a child.

And I’ll leave what I’m chasing
For the other girls to pursue

Mitski questions her capacity to be a successful artist and thinks about giving up on her ambition so that someone more qualified will achieve it.

Mom, am I still young?
Can I dream for a few months more?

Mitski wonders if she will ever be able to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a musician. She believes she has lost her creative spark and must instead “dream” of it. She also worries that by living with her mother, she is burdening her and wonders if she will be allowed to live with her dream for a little while longer.

Find “Class of 2013” from the album “Retired from Sad, New Career in Business” by Mitski on Apple Music, Spotify, and other major streaming platforms!

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