Relatable Music for College Students: Sigrid’s 'Sucker Punch'

Sigrid, a 22 year-old Norwegian singer-songwriter, released her debut album, Sucker Punch, on March 8. Sigrid’s music falls in the pop genre, but she stands out from her peers in that her songwriting skills are sophisticated and she rarely, if ever, wears makeup (I personally find that refreshing). Sigrid first gained notoriety in early 2017 with her debut single, “Don’t Kill My Vibe,” about facing sexism early on in her career, and she released two EPs afterwards instead of rushing her debut album. Sucker Punch was worth the wait: it not only announces the arrival of a future pop star, but the album’s twelve songs also get to the heart of the multitude of emotions that people, especially young women, experience during college.  I highly recommend that everyone listen to Sucker Punch in its entirety, so here is a track-by-track breakdown of the album.

1. “Sucker Punch”

Lead single “Sucker Punch” is about unexpectedly meeting someone and developing a crush on them, and, while worrying that pursuing a relationship could backfire, the other person is so intoxicating that you can’t help yourself.  The lyrics in the verses are full of depth, but Sigrid takes the song to another level in embracing brash electro-pop and heavy beats, a new sound for her. It works perfectly: “Sucker Punch” leaves your heart racing and has the ability to make you feel all of those emotions again.

Best Lyric: “Both our hoodies red, you’re in my head”

2.  “Mine Right Now”

Have you ever self-sabotaged a relationship, or even a friendship, because you’re afraid that if you let someone in, they’ll hurt you?  I have, and that is at the core of “Mine Right Now.” This song is about making the best of your current happiness because you know you’ll inevitably lose it sooner or later through your own making. The song lyrics sound, and are, depressing, but Sigrid wisely pairs it with upbeat synth-pop to make it both a cathartic and fun listen.

Best Lyric: “I will fall apart / If you break my heart / Yet here we are / And I ruin the moment”

3.  “Basic”

This is personally one of my least favorite tracks on the album (at least for now), but I understand Sigrid’s thinking behind it.  The song is about asking the person you’re with to open up and let you know what they think about the relationship, because they are emotionally unavailable. When she sings in the chorus, “Can I be basic with you?” she is asking this person to open up and be honest with her.  This is a common issue in college relationships, especially so at Barnard and Columbia.

Best Lyric: “So are you feeling stupid too? / I hope I’m not the only fool”

4.  “Strangers”

This was Sigrid’s first international hit after its initial release in late 2017.  “Strangers” perfectly encapsulates a relationship that is built on flimsy foundations and already doomed from the start, but you pursue it anyway.  Sigrid calls out the Hollywood film industry for setting unrealistic expectations for relationships and illuminates what most relationships are really like.  Completing the coup d’etat, electro-pop, synth-pop, and an infectious beat are used to transform what should be a sad ballad into a bold statement of recognizing and accepting reality.  If that isn’t powerful, I don’t know what is.

Best Lyric: “We’re the broken beauties / Blindfolded minds collide and we fall”

5.  “Don’t Feel Like Crying”

“Don’t Feel Like Crying” is one of the shorter tracks on the album, but it succinctly gets its point across.  After a breakup, Sigrid refuses to stay home and mope about her failed relationship, which she acknowledges is the expectation, and instead goes out and has fun with her friends.  As Sigrid sings in the second verse, that is not staying that she isn’t upset about her breakup (she actually is), but she doesn’t see a point in adding extra anguish by isolating herself from the outside world.  That is a solid piece of advice, and it is one that people should at least attempt to follow.

Best Lyric: “It hasn’t hit me yet / And I know if I go home, I’m gonna get upset”

6.  “Level Up”

Despite being under two and a half minutes long, there is quite a bit of emotional depth to be found here.  “Level Up” is about a relationship being tested for the first time. The raw honesty in Sigrid’s voice as she sings about how she won’t let her partner shut her out, because dealing with your problems is the only way their relationship can survive, is breathtaking.  I wish that Sigrid had further developed this song because I get chills down my spine when I think about what could’ve been (in my opinion) a hit. The fact that “Level Up” is still a success in its current incarnation is a testament to Sigrid’s strong songwriting skills.

Best Lyric: “I know you’re tempted to just leave them there / Our time is short, so we don’t take our chances”

7.  “Sight Of You”

This song is infectiously happy and a breath of fresh air after five songs about complicated relationships.  Sigrid wrote “Sight Of You” as a tribute to her fans because at every concert, they lift her up and take away her doubts and fears the minute she starts performing.  Even though the lyrics reference performing on stage, the message could apply to just about any type of relationship, whether it’s with family, friends, or a significant other.  “Sight Of You” is about appreciating the people who matter most in your life and never ceasing to be grateful for your life. Considering the constant ups and downs that come with college life and the need to rely on our support systems to stay sane, this is extremely relevant for college students.

Best Lyric: “Breakin’ in but I won’t break down / I get tired, kinda grumpy / But I’m never in doubt that you’ve got my back”

8.  “In Vain”

It took me a week to connect with this song, but now that I have, I am completely hooked.  “In Vain” is about walking away from a toxic relationship. Many people can relate to that, but what makes this track stand out is the transition from ballad to a self-assured declaration of independence, achieved through a change in tempo and instruments.  “In Vain” is truly a brilliant song and a hidden gem on this album.

Best Lyric: “Please walk away, and we’ll just leave it / Or were you thinking I would give my heart in vain?”

9.  “Don’t Kill My Vibe”

This is the anthem every marginalized college student needs.  Sigrid wrote this song about a recording session early in her career when a male songwriter/producer belittled her and never took her opinions into account.  Sigrid put a positive spin on the situation, and she was rewarded with a hit.  “Don’t Kill My Vibe” has the uncanny ability to enable anyone who has ever felt like they were discriminated against to reclaim their power.  Most importantly, while Sigrid wrote this about experiencing sexism in the music industry, it can apply to any type of discrimination a person can face.

Best Lyric: “You think you’re so important to me, don’t you?”

10.  “Business Dinners”

This song is also about the negative aspects of the music industry, but “Business Dinners” can also easily be interpreted as a critique on how society sets unrealistic expectations regarding how ordinary people should behave, from the job you take to the way you dress.  While Sigrid is simply writing about wanting to be herself, her ability to seamlessly switch between subtly clever and blunt lyrics, as well as the experimentation with her sound on this track, make it a standout.

Best Lyric: “Swept over by the undertow, I just wanna swim and float”

11.  “Never Mine”

Sigrid intentionally kept the lyrics of this song simplistic, and while such an approach usually backfires and makes the song repetitive, that does not occur here. “Never Mine” achieves depth in accurately describing the pain experienced when you lose both a potential romantic relationship and an already existing friendship.  The rolling synth-pop beat makes this song an earworm—you won’t be able to get it out of your head for at least two weeks, guaranteed.

Best Lyric: “You were never mine / Never, never, never / But I see you all the time”

12.  “Dynamite”

Sigrid closes the album with a raw and honest piano ballad that showcases not only her songwriting skills, but also her vocal talents.  “Dynamite” is a brilliant song about moving on in life without a close friend or significant other. What makes this song truly brilliant is that Sigrid reaches the conclusion that while ending a relationship hurts, she has to do what is best for her and not fight change because it is a fact of life.  “Dynamite” will probably resonate most with first-years and seniors as they take their next steps in their lives, but it is relatable at any age.

Best Lyric: “Not the same destinations / Know I will stay when you get off the train”