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What do you mean you haven’t heard of her?!

Phoebe Bridgers is an alternative singer-songwriter, most known for her Grammy-nominated album: Punisher. Phoebe recently announced another leg to her world tour, including dates in Chicago, IL, and Milwaukee, WI. I was lucky enough to get tickets for only sixty dollars! My sister and I love Phoebe’s music more than anything, which got me thinking about how many don’t know how beautiful and dark, yet magical her music is. 

Music is something very subjective, as most likes or dislikes are, but there is something for everyone in Phoebe’s music. Her songs cover unconventional topics, like substance abuse, parental relationships, grief, and feeling like life is a dystopian society. She also writes about her own abusive relationships, mental struggles, and growth. Phoebe’s sound is classified as alternative, but could also be described as soft rock, with hints of indie. I may be a little biased (okay I’m definitely very, extremely biased) but I think everyone will find at least one phoebe song that really makes them feel something. To me, Phoebe’s lyrics make me feel less alone like there are other people who feel lost and confused just as I do. Her words truly do tell a story, each different in its subject and message. 

These are my top five all-time favorite songs by Phoebe Bridgers, in no particular order. (With the best lyrics, too.)

“Killer” 

Off of Stranger In The Alps, “Killer” is a song many may find confusing, or even boring. To me, the lyrics are some of Phoebe’s saddest to date. The meaning behind this song could be interpreted in many ways, but I believe it is a story about personal abandonment issues and her feeling like she is a killer to loved ones by being so attached to him. She seems to be giving all her love, energy, and even health to be with this person, even though they do not seem to care either way. The sickness she speaks about in the quote below is almost self-inflicted like she finally had to give up from unreciprocated love. The lyrics, soft piano, and feeling like things will never change haunt you long after the song ends. Best lyric:

“When a machine keeps me alive

And I’m losing all my hair

I hope you kiss my rotten head

And pull the plug

Know that I’ve burned every playlist

And I’ve given all my love” 

“Motion Sickness” 

A fan favorite of Stranger In The Alps, and one that put Bridgers’ name on the map, “Motion Sickness” is an upbeat song with heartbreaking lyrics. Detailing the power dynamic with a former lover, Phoebe marks the abuse she felt in her relationship as an “emotional motion sickness” she is trying to get away from. Many are able to resonate with this song, as the feelings of heartbreak after an abusive relationship are unfortunately common. Best lyric:

“I hate you for what you did

And I miss you like a little kid

I faked it every time, but that’s alright

I can hardly feel anything, I hardly feel anything at all”

“ICU”

An upbeat song off of Punisher, Phoebe’s latest album, but also a heartbreak song, not a breakup song, rather at the point where you know things are going downhill, but you don’t know how to fix it. The story explains how the relationship had some major problems, and she knows she was one of them. She knows how much she loves this person, but it appears the spark is long gone. The lyrics explain the back and forth very well, while also noting that even when you know things are messy, you still go back to them. For “ICU,” I’m going to do the two best lyrics.

Best rebellious lyric:

“I hate your mom

I hate it when she opens her mouth

It’s amazing to me

How much you can say

When you don’t know what you’re talking about”

Best heartbreak lyric:

“I used to light you up

Now I can even get you

To play the drums

‘Cause I don’t know what I want

Until I fuck it up”

“I Know the End” 

Another favorite of Punisher, “I Know the End” feels quite like a fever dream after the first listen. The song starts off as a soft piano ballad where Phoebe explains how she knows certain things have to come to an end, and people have to go, even herself. The song details what seems to be talking with a long-distance lover, who left her own small town in California, which she left, and then the beat shifts. The outro acknowledges all the things that end, but also how there can be beauty in new beginnings. It is truly one of the best songs ever written, with each listen a new meaning. Best lyric:

“Either way, we’re not alone

I’ll find a new place to be from

A haunted house with a picket fence

To float around and ghost my friends

No, I’m not afraid to disappear

The billboard said, “The end is near”

I turned around, there was nothing there

Yeah, I guess the end is here”

“Funeral” 

Also off of Stranger In The Alps, “Funeral” paints a very clear story with its lyrics. Phoebe details how she is singing at a funeral for a young boy that passed away. In turn, the death makes her think about her own suffering, depression, and pain contrasted with the reality that someone lost a son, so young. This song makes me cry almost every time, as people who suffer from mental illness are often painfully aware of how we’ll have to live with the sadness we experience forever. It creeps into every part of your life, as Phoebe details. At the same time, there is a certain amount of guilt along with sadness, something that not many talk about. Best lyric:

“And last night I blacked out in my car

And I woke up in my childhood bed

Wishing I was someone else, feeling sorry for myself

When I remembered someone’s kid is dead

Jesus Christ, I’m so blue all the time

And that’s just how I feel

Always have and I always will” 

These are my personal five favorite Phoebe Bridgers’ songs, but given everyone’s own personal struggles and stories, you are bound to have your own. I should also add that Taylor Swift is a huge Phoebe Bridgers fan, so if you like her, you’ll probably love Phoebe too! Sometimes discovering your new favorite artist means exploring a new genre as well, so if you happen to be new to alternative music, give Phoebe Bridgers’ a try to see if you like it. Spoiler: you will!

Emma Julian

Illinois State '25

Hi! My name is Emma and I am a freshman at Illinois State! I am majoring in Marketing, but have a huge love for writing and sharing experiences with others. I enjoy writing about mental health, fashion, lifestyle, and wellness. I love writing for Her Campus since, to me, life is all about learning and sharing. Feel free to follow my Instagram: emmarosee13 :)
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