Music: Florence + the Machine
Florence Welch, minus her machine
I am done with my graceless heart ...
Florence + the Machine is the work of British singer/songwriter Florence Welch, with 'the machine' being her (rotating) backing group, though the name originally referred to her original collaborator (and current keyboardist for her backing group) Isabella Summers when the group was "Florence Robot/Isa Machine" to be shortened to its current moniker. After her debut album Lungs
made number one in the United Kingdom (six months after release, and repeatedly), she became one of 2009's frontrunners in a burst of popular, powerful female pop music. Her second album, Ceremonials
, switched tacks abruptly and took the world by storm in a burst of overpowering soul music.
Welch is known for quite macabre lyrics — "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)" was her reaction to being asked to make an upbeat
record for marketability! —, love-or-hate
performances and haunting vocals.
They contributed the song "Heavy In Your Arms" to the Twilight Saga: Eclipse
soundtrack, and performed a song for Snow White & the Huntsman
. One of their songs were also used in Revenge
's finale, to great acclaim, and in a season finale of Warehouse 13
. Florence contributed her vocals to "Sweet Nothing" by Calvin Harris
, and he remixed "Spectrum" for radio. Both charted #1 in the UK. Most recently, the song "Over The Love" was made for The Great Gatsby
movie soundtrack, which appears to be a song from Daisy's perspective.
- Lungs (2009)
- Ceremonials (2011)
- MTV Unplugged Presents: Florence + The Machine (2012)
- How Big How Blue How Beautiful (2015)
Florence and the Machine provide examples of the following tropes:
- Album Title Drop:
- In the second verse of "Only If For a Night" on Ceremonials:
My own secret ceremonials
- And in "Between Two Lungs":
"Between two lungs it was released
A breath that passed from you to me"
- And in "I'm Not Calling You a Liar":
"There's a ghost in my lungs / and it sighs in my sleep"
- Ac CENT Upont HE Wrong Syl LA Ble: An odd vocal choice all over the Ceremonials album, Seven Devils, Spectrum and Love To Lover are the most weirdly accented.
- And I Must Scream: Nearly word for word in "Bird Song"
I opened my mouth to scream and shout,
I waved my arms and flapped about.
But I couldn't scream and I couldn't shout,
couldn't scream and I couldn't shout.
- Anti-Love Song: Take your pick:
- Art Deco: Seems to be the general look for the Ceremonials album.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!! In interviews, at least.
- Author Appeal:
- According to Word of God, Florence loves the subject of drowning. Mentioned by description in Ceremonials liner notes, she's fond of the jumping off the edge and "enveloping" feeling which drowning often described as being. She once said that as a child, she dived to the bottom of a swimming pool and, for a moment, felt like she could breathe, and she's been trying to recreate the feeling ever since. This is said to be similar to her relationship to music.
Drowning turns up in "Drumming Song", "Swimming", "Heavy In Your Arms", "What the Water Gave Me", "Never Let Me Go", and "Heartlines", along with being alluded to in the music video for "Rabbit Heart", and "Lover to Lover". It's implied in "Hurricane Drunk".
- Religion and spirituality is also a common theme in their music, maybe even more than drowning. Heaven and hell, the devil, voodoo, churches, dead and the afterlife, and a ton of other stuff pop up in both albums and their music video. "Bedroom Hymns" is an entire song comparing religion with love. Word of God confesses that Florence is obsessed with religion and spirituality, even though she's not religious herself.
- Audience Participation Song: "You've Got the Love", "Never Let Me Go", "Dog Days Are Over", "Rabbit Heart", "Shake It Out", "No Light, No Light".
- Badass Boast: "Seven Devils":
Cannot help you now
A thousand armies
Couldn't keep me down
- Battle Cry: "and It's an even sum, it's melody, it's a battle cry, it's a symphony"
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The music video for "Drumming Song" features two blonde and two brunette backup dancers. As for the redhead...does it have to be said?
- Blood Is Squicker in Water: "Rabbit Heart"; "the water turns from blue to red/as towards the sky I offer it..."
- Break-Up Bonfire: In the music video for "Lover to Lover".
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Florence displays a random streak in interviews.
- The Cover Changes The Gender: Notably averted in "Girl With One Eye" and "Take Care".
- Cover Version: On the Lungs album, "Girl with One Eye", "You've Got the Love", "Addicted to Love" and "Hospital Beds" are all cover songs. She's also done a few covers live, including "Halo" by Beyonce, "Take Care" by Drake and "Oh! Darling" by The Beatles.
- Darker and Edgier: "Sweet Nothing" gets rid of all metaphors previous in her previous videos.
- Although technically it isn't actually her song, she's just lending her voice to Calvin Harris's.
- Deadpan Snarker: Florence, again. When someone asked what she'd do to celebrate winning a BRIT award, she said, "I'll do laundry."
- Death Is Not Permanent: "Seven Devils" plays with this trope.
- I was dead when I woke up this morning, and I'll be dead before the day is done
- Deer in the Headlights: "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)".
- Department of Redundancy Department: "A falling star, fell from your heart..."
- Disproportionate Retribution: "Girl With One Eye";
- Does Not Like Shoes: Performing barefoot in concerts and music videos is one of Florence's trademarks.
- Drowning My Sorrows: "Hurricane Drunk".
- Driven to Suicide: "Hurricane Drunk".
I'm going to drink myself to death
- Early Installment Weirdness: Because of a change in her sound to the one she became famous with, the indie rock-esque "Kiss with a Fist" has become this. The recording that appears on Lungs is almost identical (or is) to the one that appeared on her 2008 debut single.
- Echoing Acoustics: Lots of reverb is used in the tracks "Never Let Me Go" and "Leave My Body".
- Egocentric Team Naming: Florence is the singer, Machine is her creative partner (and band keyboardist) Isabella Summers. The first name of their duo was even Florence Robot/Isa Machine.
- Everything Is an Instrument:
- "Are You Hurting the One You Love" features drumming on pots and pans.
- Apparently the next album will use the sounds of their instruments burning- they caught fire where they were being kept.
- The alternative version of "Girl With One Eye" is called the "Bayou Percussion Version" and has the sound of breaking glass at the end.
- Eye Scream:
- "Girl With One Eye."
- In the video for "Cosmic Love", a ball of light floats to Florence and hits her in the eyes, and she screams. When she opens them again her eyes are sparkling, like stars.
- Which is quite interesting because in the song she states that the star made her blind:
A falling star fell from your heart and landed in my eyes
I screamed aloud, as it tore through them, and now it's left me blind
- Fake-Out Fade-Out: Used in "Dog Days Are Over".
- Follow Your Heart: "Heartlines" and "Shake It Out".
- Gorn : Many of the songs on Lungs contain quite gory/violent lyrics. Notable examples would be "Dog Days Are Over" , "Girl With One Eye", "Kiss With A Fist", and "Howl".
- Green Eyes: Florence has a creative and mysterious pair.
- Grief Song: "Never Let Me Go" and "Heavy In Your Arms"
- Heartbeat Soundtrack: "Cosmic Love", especially in the music video.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Florence and Isabella.
- Human Sacrifice: "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)" is about sacrifice but not really taking a life. If anything she is referring to how artists have to sacrifice their image and style (that being what her label wanted her to do). The song is also about her fears.
"I'd written all these dark songs, and the label suggested we should have something that was a bit more upbeat. In the process of trying to do that, I realised maybe I was sacrificing something. So I had a really upbeat piano and drums, but the lyrics that came out were 'This is the gift/It comes with a price/ Who is the lamb/And who is the knife?' The rabbit heart is a reference to fear. I'm so afraid of what's about to happen. Of being in the spotlight." This is Lampshaded
at the live shows where she says 'Find someone you love and sacrifice them."
- "I can TAKE your heart, and then TAKE your soul" in "Seven Devils", amongst others.
- Their possible second obsession besides The Ophelia. Sacrifice and exorcism are often mentioned in their works.
- Hotter and Sexier: "Sweet Nothing" takes place in a strip joint.
- Kill It with Fire: "Seven Devils"
and no rivers and no lakes, can put the fire out
I'm going to raise the stakes,
I'm gonna smoke you out...
- I Am the Band:
- Before her backing band settled down to a more or less stable lineup, The band was (and probably still is) basically "Florence, and whatever backing musicians are on hand at the time" - sometimes it was members of the Test Icicles or Noah and the Whale or maybe her some of her musician friends or sometimes lucky concert goers.
- Originally she performed with an actual drum machine for backing.
- Incredibly Long Note: "No Light, No Light", at the end of the bridge, which is usually replicated live with a combination of circular breathing and modifying the microphone.
- In "Shake it Out", the last note of the bridge is sustained in the background of the last chorus. Florence's cries of "what the hell" during the outro also qualifies.
- Intercourse with You: "Bedroom Hymns" is one long comparison of religion to the ecstasy of sex. What else could "bedroom hymns" be besides singing by the wardrobe?
- The Insomniac: "Lover To Lover".
I've been losing sleep,
I've been keeping myself awake,
I've been wandering the streets,
For days and days and days.
- Leave No Witnesses: "Bird Song.
"I picked up the bird and above the din, I said "That's the last song you'll ever sing
Held him down, broke his neck, taught him a lesson he wouldn't forget."
- Loudness War: Ceremonials is a casualty.
- Lyrical Cold Open: "Kiss with a Fist", "I'm Not Calling You a Liar", "Cosmic Love", "Falling", "Addicted to Love", "Bird Song", "Spectrum", and "Shake it Out".
- Lyrical Dissonance:
- "Hurricane Drunk", which is a delightfully happy song. The first lines of the chorus are "I'm going out/I'm gonna drink myself to death."
- Florence said "Dog Days Are Over" is about being destructively happy, and the lyrics strongly imply that whoever the song is about is trying to avoid this happiness.
"Struck from a great height/By someone who should have known better than that?"
- Florence lampshaded this when she explained how "Rabbit Heart" came to be.
I'd written all these dark songs, and the label suggested we should have something that was a bit more upbeat. In the process of trying to do that, I realised maybe I was sacrificing something. So I had a really upbeat piano and drums, but the lyrics that came out were, ‘This is the gift/It comes with a price/ Who is the lamb/And who is the knife?
- In "Ceremonials", "Breaking Down" has an upbeat rhythm, yet its lyrics implies insanity on the subject's part.
- Further stated verbatim in the Track By Track in regards to this song.
- "Lover To Lover" describes the subject metaphorically descending to Hell, while having an uplifting soul vibe.
- "Kiss With a Fist" has an 80's rock tone, with lyrics describing a couple violently in love, to the point many critics thought the song was about domestic abuse.
- On the other hand, the original version of "Kiss With a Fist", called "Happy Slap", was faster and more maniac. In the middle of the song, Florence is clearly fighting back laughter, further adding to the overly happy yet quite violent song.
- An earlier version of "Swimming" had more of an indie rock tone, while the final version averts this.
- Long Title: "What The Water Gave Me", "I'm Not Calling You A Liar", "Only If For A Night", "All This And Heaven Too".
- Masochism Tango: "Kiss With A Fist": "You hit me once, I hit you back / You gave a kick, I gave a slap / You smashed a plate over my head, then I set fire to our bed".
- Melismatic Vocals: "I don't need the birds let them fly-away-ay-ay" in "Leave My Body".
- Ceremonials in general is absolutely full of this.
- Masquerade Ball: The music video for "Shake it Out" takes place during a 1920s masked ball, complete with masks.
- Murder Ballad: "Heavy In Your Arms" seems to be from the perspective of a woman whose boyfriend drowned her in a river.
- Mood Whiplash: "Lover To Lover", which is a sort of upbeat screw-you-I’ll-do-what-I-want song, going into "No Light, No Light"'s apologetic and sad lyrics and soft vocals, which goes into the Tranquil Fury of "Seven Devils”, which is another screw-you song, on Ceremonials.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Drumming Song", "Cosmic Love", "Blinding", "Bird Song".
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Or "Chamber pop goth stomp, crossed with a choir of nuns being thrown down the stairs" in Florence's own words!
- The Ophelia: This seems to be invoked and more than a few lyrics refer to drowning.
- Obsession Song: "Dog Days Are Over", "Drumming Song", "Remain Nameless".
- Overly Long Name: Florence Leontine Mary Welch.
- Panty Shot: "Kiss With a Fist" music video.
- Precision F-Strike: in her Track By Track she calls "Lover to Lover" a "Fuck You"-like song.
- Pimped Out Cape: While singing "Shake It Out" on The X Factor, Florence wore a dress with six white capes held in place. She didn't move around a lot.
- Record Producer: Paul Epworth (probably best known for Florence's own "Cosmic Love", "Howl", "Rabbit Heart", and "Blinding" from Lungs as well as Adele's "Rolling in the Deep") produced the entirety of Ceremonials.
- Repurposed Pop Song: "Dog Days Are Over".
- "Howl" has also been re-purposed for a car commercial, of all things.
- Re Release The Song: "Dog Days Are Over".
- Refrain from Assuming: "Spectrum" is the real title of that song. It is not called "Say My Name" no matter what urges the song gives you to say it is that.
- The Calvin Harris remix of "Spectrum" is called "Spectrum (Say My Name)".
- Revenge / Best Served Cold: "Seven Devils" is about this topic and it was featured in The 2011 Series Revenge, as well as used in one of the trailers for Game of Thrones's second season. Girl With One Eye is also an extremely vengeful song.
- Rearrange the Song: The live version of "What The Water Gave Me" features elements of the released demo. There's also an added Epic Instrumental Opener, sometimes adding a full minute to songs already over 5 minutes.
- Sanity Slippage Song: "What The Water Gave Me", "Dog Days Are Over", "Hurricane Drunk", "Seven Devils", "Kiss With A Fist", "Breaking Down", "Lover To Lover", "Bird Song", "Falling", and "Swimming".
- Subverted with "Leave My Body" which is about her wanting to lose her mind in her own singing and music in general.
- "Blinding" deals with themes of disillusionment. She appears to be stuck in a fantasy world - unsure of what's happening in the real one, attempting to put the pieces of her memory back together.
- Say My Name: “Spectrum”, Up to Eleven.
- Self-Backing Vocalist:
- On many of the tracks on her albums, Welch is one of the backing vocalists. In a few cases, she is the only backing vocalist and her voice has been overdubbed to create a chorus of one...eg "Leave My Body".
- An earlier case is in "Rabbit Heart". Word of God claims that the person who mixed the chorus had a nervous breakdown.
- See You in Hell: The implication of "Lover to Lover".
- Self Empowerment Anthem: "Shake It Out", which is about shaking out negative influences and demon's. "Rabbit Heart" may also count because it's about her want to be a lion-hearted girl.
- She's Got Legs: See the video for "Drumming Sound" if there is still some doubt.
- Also, "You've got the love" and "Kiss with a Fist".
- The Something Song: "Drumming Song". "Bird Song" fits this as well.
- Statuesque Stunner: Almost six feet tall, and displays it quite well.
- Silly Love Songs: "All This and Heaven Too", "Spectrum", "Between Two Lungs".
- Singing Voice Dissonance: She whispers softly soprano when she talks, but her voice is extremely powerful and a deep strong alto.
- Something Completely Different: Florence has recently stated her interest in dabbling with dance music; in 2012, Calvin Harris remixed "Spectrum" (giving Florence her first UK #1), and she returned the favor by lending vocals to his single "Sweet Nothing".
- Special Guest: Josh Homme turns up during the "MTV Unplugged" show for a cover of "Jackson".
- Surreal Music Video: There's a few of them.
- The original "Dog Days Are Over" video.
- The 2010 version of "Dog Days Are Over" retains the surrealism with a New Age vibe.
- The Stars Are Going Out: In "Cosmic Love": "The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out."
- Stalker with a Crush / Obsession Song: Remain Nameless, and that insane devotion they are known for.
- Stepford Smiler: "Breaking Down" music video. A happy, brightly colored retro style video where she never stops smiling, while the cheerful sounding song's lyrics about an impending mental breakdown.
- Stevie Nicks: Florence is a big fan of Stevie's, cites her as a key musical and stylistic influence, and has been likened to her by many commentators and critics.
- Subdued Section: The bridge of "Dog Days Are Over" and "Cosmic Love".
- Talking to the Dead: Florence explained that the song "Only If For a Night" is about talking to her dead grandmother in a dream.
- Talking in Your Sleep: "I'm Not Calling You A Liar".
There's a ghost in my mouth
And it talks in my sleep
- Tranquil Fury: "Seven Devils" could be seen as being about this; as indicated by the soft but slightly creepy musical structure and threatening lyrics.
I´ve come to burn your kingdom down
I'm going to raise the stakes, I'm gonna smoke you out
It's a battle cry
- Title Only Chorus: "Howl" and "You've Got The Love".
- Terrible Ticking:
- There's a drumming noise inside my head, and it starts when you're around...
- And in my dreams began to creep that all familiar "tweet, tweet, tweet..."
- Three Minutes of Writhing:
- The video for "You've Got The Love".
- And also "Drumming Song".
- Unplugged Version: Their Unplugged MTV sessions
- Up Dated Re Release: "Lungs" was re-released and updated with a 12 track additional disk and linear notes in late 2010.
- Voodoo Doll: The man in the music video for "No Light, No Light" uses one on Florence, making her jerk around on top of a skyscraper before falling off.
- What Is This Feeling?: All This And Heaven Too.
I can't seem to understand it and
And I would give all this and Heaven too
I would give it all if only for a moment that I could just understand
the meaning of the word you see
'cause I've been scrawling it forever
but itnever makes sense to me at all
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Florence dons a suit in the original "Dog Days are Over" video.
- In "Sweet Nothing", she wears one as well, also pinning her hair up.
- World of Pun: The title of "Strangeness and Charm" is already a play on words. However, in the pre-chorus:
Atom oh atom, oh what's the matter with me, love?
- Younger Than They Look: She's 28, but looks about ten years older; it's a bit difficult for some people to wrap their head around. Or to think that Florence is the same age as Lady Gaga.
So tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart ...