Culture

Dodie’s “You” EP Brings a Voice to Depression, Unhealthy Relationships, and Hope

Music has served more for coping and self-expression than for simple fun.

“I’ve got a secret for the mad,
In a little bit of time it won’t hurt so bad.
And I get that I don’t get it,
But you will burn right now, but then you won’t regret it.”
Secret for the Mad, Dodie

From a distance, Dodie Clark’s story sounds exactly like that fairytale about the timid internet personality who bursts into the sunshine of success: Since creating her main YouTube channel in 2011, the young musician from England has been releasing short n’ sweet songs, armed with just her ukulele, sugary voice, and side channel (called doddlevloggle). On her 22nd birthday this past April, she got an extra sweet surprise: a 1 million subscriber count.

Dig a little deeper and the story becomes less glittery. Between a history of depression, depersonalization, panic attacks, and more, music has served more for coping and self-expression than for simple fun.

Dodie’s music is often a vulnerable reflection of her own feelings. Her previous EP, Intertwined, reflected topics like toxic relationships or dissociation. While Intertwined set a high standard for her sophomore EP, Dodie still managed to hit the mark with its release this past August.

In The Middle

“It could be weird, but I think I’m into it.”

Toss your hands in the air if you think the world needs less stigmatization around sexuality, especially women’s sexuality. If your hands are up there flying (as they should be), then this song is the first to explore.

Aside from the fact that the song is ridiculously catchy with its funk, beat, and rhythm, it explores the idea of having a threesome – without treating it as a disgrace or glorified kink. Instead, it’s presented as something that might be fun to explore if everyone wants to. Simple. Not shaming.

6/10

“I’m making you uneasy, aren’t I?”
In a sea of cheerful melodies, “6/10” takes a more somber look at the reality of countless young people: What is it like to feel like you’re only a fraction of yourself? To feel like a burden on others?

The song doesn’t offer much direct reassurance, but it’s not meant to. It’s a narrative of deep-rooted insecurities that hits home for many fans (some of whom even contributed their voices to the track).

Why is this so important? Simple: it lends the right words to those who can’t express themselves, gives validation to they who doubt they’re worth the attention, and provides a sense of kinship and solidarity to those who are isolated by their own minds.

Instrumental

Truth be told, this song is exactly what it says on the tin: a 50-second song performed entirely on the piano and instrumentation. The overall sound is a little melancholy, but the high notes lend just enough feeling of hope, that it connects directly with the listeners’ emotions and experience without a single word.

In other words: It’s a simplified Chopin for those who’ve never heard of Chopin.

You

“Whatever it was, it was wonderful…but nonfunctional.”
One common trend in Dodie’s music is a subtle use of irony: the tone of the music sometimes completely counters a darker meaning. Arguably no song does this better than 2016’s “Intertwined”, but “You” does a successful job of keeping the tradition running.

With its deep Parisian vibes, cheerful melody, and peppy background uke, the song at first glance seems like another chipper love song. The lyrics, on the other hand, tell another tale: one of being drawn into a relationship that at first seemed brilliant but quickly spiraled since neither participants were on the same page.

In other words: an unbalanced and unhealthy relationship.

This song perhaps hits a little closer to home, as it’s based on Dodie’s personal experience more than perhaps any other song on the album. Overall, it delivers a powerful message through its delightful sound: just because a relationship seems happy at first doesn’t mean it’s sustainable.

Secret for the Mad

“There will be a day when you can say you’re okay and mean it.”

For most of the You EP, when the word “you” is used, it’s referring to some hypothetical third party. “Secret for the Mad” pops out because it takes a 360: when Dodie says “you”, she’s singing straight to the listener.

This song addresses any pain, numbness, or depression that the listener is going through, and it provides calming reassurance that it will be worth it in the end. More importantly, it validates the listener’s feelings rather than belittling it – at no point does she downplay the experience, but she instead mirrors it, even acknowledging that the listener isn’t obligated to believe her.

The world can be chilly at times, treating mental disorders as personality defects or exaggerations. In an environment like this, “Secret for the Mad” provides some much-needed empathy. Fun fact: the instrumentation is a single piano key. It works.

Would You Be So Kind

“Do me a favor: Can your heart rate rise a little?”
Possibly the oldest song on the EP, this final track takes an almost painfully cheery take on unrequited love and trying to stay hopeful in a hopeless situation.

The lyrics themselves are very optimistic, but there’s the faintest hint of desperation laced throughout the song. The song even starts falling a bit after the bridge, but instantly picks itself back up, refusing to give in to the darker implications.

Compared to the rest of the EP, perhaps “Would You Be So Kind” isn’t the deepest of songs, but it ties the entire album together with a ring of cheer, reflecting the true core of Dodie’s music: even in pain, there’s hope.

2

With an unbreakable passion for books, music, feminism, and cartoons,...