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“You’re in love, You’ve Found Heaven”

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at KU chapter.

Music review: Conan Gray’s found Heaven

Conan Gray’s third album, Found Heaven, was released April 5, 2024. The 25-year-old takes heavy inspiration from the sounds of the 80’s and the styles of glam rock. The sound is completely different than any album he has released previously and plays with a new image. There was a total of five singles including, “Never Ending Song,” “Winner,” “Killing Me,” “Lonely Dancers,” and “Alley Rose.”

A new style

As previously mentioned, Found Heaven takes heavy stylistic inspiration from the 80’s. It integrates synth pop and glam rock with that of the modern day. The cover of the album similar to that of the 1973 David Bowie album, Aladdin Sane. The symbol dedicated to Found Heaven is a star. Gray has been teasing this album since the release of the first single, “Never Ending Song,” through the incorporation of this star. The color palette of the album is also heavily specific, being bright primary colors; however mainly yellow and black, as well as blue and red. This could be a further nod to the late artist Davide Bowie, which takes the concept of his iconic lighting bolt and turns it into his own representation. There are also musical inspirations taken from Queen, Elton John, Warren Zevon, and many others.

His previous albums, Kid Krow and Superache were both highly modern pop. Kid Krow represented a coming-of-age theme while Superache was more about emotional loss and pain in his life. Found Heaven feels like his most raw and emotional album. It is about his first relationship and the heartbreak that followed. It is not bashing this person, however celebrating the relationship and showing that it is possible to make it through in a productive way. Gray is not running away from the truth or the unattractive nature of it, he is embracing his feelings and putting them on display. Pain is not always an ugly thing, beauty can come from it. He paves a way for the lonely people or those who may also be experiencing heartbreak to dance and cry at the same time. There is no right way to deal with any situation, and Gray shows there can be ambivalent feelings through his music.

Religious Undertones

The album’s title, Found Heaven, is not where the religious illusions stop. There are many lyrics which elude to a religious background. For instance in the song “Found Heaven,” there is the lyric “You heart is breaking as you leave that door You never meant to start this holy war.” While the entire song encapsulates a religious undertone, this is the most outward example. He has expressed in the past in interviews and with other songs that his upbringing was not the most positive of circumstances. Within this song specifically, he is describing leaving a bad situation even though it is painful. While it is not always the intention, sometimes others can be hurt by ones actions. He is stating that in order to fully heal from this situation, he needed to leave from the toxic environment. He uses religion to connect to his personal life and experiences. This could also be an illusion to religious wars that were started in the past over miscommunication or the lack of understanding for others beliefs.

In the song, “Miss You,” he sings, “From my search for the promised land I came back only wanting you.” This perfectly encapsulates both the feelings he felt towards the person who the album primarily is about while also viewing love under a religious standpoint. Being in love can feel like finding heaven because the high levels of dopamine that are released, giving a euphoric feeling. To lose this feeling can be devastating. People can become desperate to find love in the current culture of dating as it is not easy. The feeling of love can be intensified by the phenomenon and cause emotions to rise to the extreme. Including religion to compare to finding love makes the album even more complex and intriguing to listen to.

Queer representation

Fans have theorized that the song “Found Heaven” also contains a nod to being queer or finding acceptance in oneself even if one is shamed for it. The lyrics, “Can we repent this sin? No soul is innocent Everybody wants to love,” demonstrate how religion is often weaponized to be against queer people. Many attempt to shame or make being queer out to be a sin, however in his song, he is making a statement that everyone is human regardless of their sexuality or gender. Being queer is not something that can be changed, it is also not something that can be controlled. Everyone is worthy of finding love and being loved. Furthermore, he sings, “You’ll never get your mama’s wedding ring Father always said you ruined everything But you prayed Begged and prayed Hearth Unchanged Don’t be scared little child You’re no demon.” LGBTQIA+ children can face a particular hardship if a parent is unaccepting. When there is a loud voice telling a person they are wrong for being who they are, it is easy to take that to heart. Gray is saying that no matter how hard a person tries to change that part of themselves it will never work. He wants them to understand that they are not wrong or evil for being themselves. The wonderful part about music is it can represent different things to different people. While the message seems to be clear, it could also be a general message to be yourself regardless of others opinions.

His first love song

Gray has mentioned that much of the inspiration for this album came from his first real relationship and the break up that followed. The song, “Alley Rose,” has been signified by him to be his first real love song. This may be surprising for long time fans as he has been writing about love and being in love since he has been writing music. In his Genius interview explaining the lyrics of this song, he states, “I think of Alley Rose as my first love song. It’s not a song about hating someone, its very much a song where I look at something that happened and I’m really grateful.” It puts his emotions towards his relationship fully out on display for the world to see. It perfectly encapsulates the feelings of a relationship and instead of being spiteful towards the situation, he sees it as a formative experience that taught him about love. He also mentions in this interview that he came from a home that didn’t give him the best example of what love could be. This person taught him that love could be a safe thing. Not everyone is meant to stay in ones life forever, people come and go, however we can learn and grow from every relationship. The world is shades of grey, nothing is black and white.

FInal Thoughts

Overall, the album is an upbeat anthem dedicated to love and loss. Grey writes from his life experiences, however his music transcends the original meanings intentionally. He enables people to take anything they want from this album. Music can be a way for coping with life and everyone has their own connections to it. Every song feels like it belongs and has its own unique sound at the same time. The continuity and flow make it an easy listen that can require any amount of focus. It is colorful and fun while taking a well-thought out approach. The lyricism is poetic and directly from the heart. Found Heaven feels nostalgic and reminiscent for a different decade of music and completely modern; this album has something for everyone.

Rachel Meng is a current freshman at the University of Kansas majoring in Environmental Studies. She is a writer on the Her Campus chapter at KU. They are interested in journalism and love to write. Beyond Her Campus, Rachel one of the founding exec board members of the My Feminist Campus chapter at KU, serving as the Social Media Coordinator. In high school, she was active in theater, band, choir, and DECA. They attended the International Conference in DECA two years in a row and placed in the top 20. In their free time, Rachel enjoys to crochet, read and sing. She loves finding local coffee places to try. Rachel enjoys all things theater and loves musicals. After graduating, they do not have a career plan, however they would love to have a career in journalism focusing on environmental issues.