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Music / Mitski

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Your best American girl.note 

I don't need the world to see
That I've been the best I can be
But I don't think I could stand to be
Where you don't see me.
— "Francis Forever"

Mitski Miyawaki, mononymously known as Mitski (born Mitsuki Francis Laycock on September 27, 1990), is a Japanese-American singer-songwriter.

Born in Tokyo from an American father and a Japanese mother, Mitski grew up moving from country to country before eventually settling in New York in order to attend college. She decided to pursue a musical career and enrolled in the SUNY Purchase College, where she created and self-released her first two albums, Lush and Retired from Sad, New Career in Business, as her ambitious junior and senior school projects. In them, she exhibited a classical sound, with ample use of piano melodies and even a 60-piece student orchestra.

Exhausted from the experience of recording the albums (and from working outside jobs to support herself financially), Mitski had a brief stint as vocalist of a prog-metal band before starting work on her third album. Switching to a rawer, guitar-driven sound, her third album Bury Me at Makeout Creek was recorded in makeshift studios in friends' homes and was her label debut. She would continue in this sound for her fourth album Puberty 2, which alongside Makeout Creek received critical acclaim and greatly elevated her popularity. A year after its release, she ended up opening for Lorde as part of the world tour for her album Melodrama, and her song "Francis Forever" was covered by Olivia Olson (as Marceline the Vampire Queen) in an episode of Adventure Time.

Mitski released her fifth album, Be the Cowboy, in 2018, which brought back orchestral elements alongside her now-signature guitar. It became her first album to chart on the Billboard 200, and has been described as her mainstream breakthrough. However, in late 2019 during the final performance of Be the Cowboy's tour, she announced that the show would be her last indefinitely. In a 2021 interview, she admitted that she truly intended to quit music entirely after the show. By early 2020, she changed her mind and decided to make a return, partly because she still owed her label another album. She later explained that her initial decision was motivated by her struggles in dealing with her newfound indie stardom and the inner workings of the music industry, which led to her fearing that she would end up making music she didn't care about.

Her sixth album, 2022's Laurel Hell, featured prominent influences from electronic music, and reportedly went through various iterations of being a punk album and a country album. She released her seventh album, The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, in 2023; described by her as her "most American album" and centered around "the theme of love", the album contains a stripped-back acoustic sound as well a 17-person choir and further use of an orchestra.

In 2022, she collaborated with David Byrne and Son Lux on a song for Everything Everywhere All at Once, "This is a Life", which was nominated for Best Original Song at the 95th Academy Awards.


  • Lush (2012)
  • Retired from Sad, New Career in Business (2013)
  • Bury Me at Makeout Creek (2014)
  • Puberty 2 (2016)
  • Be the Cowboy (2018)
  • Laurel Hell (2022)
  • The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We (2023)

I'm just asking for a trope; give me one good, honest trope:

  • Addiction Song: "Bug Like an Angel."
  • Affair Hair: Subverted in "Happy". The black-haired wife starts suspecting her husband is cheating on her after she finds a lock of blonde hair in his things. It turns out that he's brutally murdering blondes in their basement instead.
  • Alternate Album Cover: Laurel Hell features six different covers, all based around a single headshot of Mitski. The digital release crops it to her face and neck, the physical release crops it to her head and hair, and the other four, each with their own names, are close-ups of her face used for limited-edition CD releases: "Stay" focuses on her brow, "Soft" focuses on her left eye, "Eaten" focuses on her right cheek, and "Get" focuses on her chin.
  • Animal Motifs: Dogs on "I'm Your Man." She lyrically compares herself to a dog, says she'll "meet judgment by the hounds," and the sound of dogs barking comes in towards the end.
  • Animated Music Video:
    • "A Pearl", made up of hundreds of beautifully hand-painted frames.
    • "Townie" is a cartoon depicting, among other things, sexual imagery, bedrooms, and a woman (presumably Mitski herself) shaving her eyebrows.
  • Anti-Love Song: "I Love Me After You" is a song about the joys of solitude after a break-up.
  • Ax-Crazy: Unfortunately for the protagonist in the video for "Happy", her husband is not having an affair, he is hacking women to pieces with an hatchet in their basement and giving her their jewelry. Said husband is not happy when she finds out. He pulls her to the ground and starts choking her but she manages to grab the hatchet in the nick of time and kill him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: ''The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We" ends with an Anti-Love Song about being happier once a sour relationship has ended.
  • Body Motifs: The videos (and, in the former's case, the lyrics as well) for "Your Best American Girl" and "Washing Machine Heart" have a borderline sexual fascination with hands. Shows up in the video for "Nobody" as well, though more on the surreal side à la Un Chien Andalou.
    If I could, I'd be your little spoon
    And kiss your fingers forevermore.
  • Broken Record: At the end of "Nobody," Mitski sings the titular word 26 times.
  • But Not Too Foreign: She's half-American, half-Japanese, and has spent her youth in a dozen different countries. The feeling of being in between cultures is a recurring theme in her music.
  • Careful with That Axe: The ending of "Drunk Walk Home" is just wordless screaming.
  • Concept Album: In contrast to her previous albums, which are very personal and somewhat random in subject matter, Be The Cowboy is more fictionalized, and is about the emotional journey of a very uptight and repressed woman slowly unravelling.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The video for "Washing Machine Heart", where Mitski looks like a glamorous silent film star.
  • Despair Event Horizon: "A Burning Hill," a song about giving up.
  • Downer Ending: Pretty much all of her albums end this way—except for The Land Is Inhospitable which ends on a more triumphant note.
  • Either/Or Title: "First Love/Late Spring".
  • Face Death with Dignity: "Last Words of a Shooting Star" is told from the perspective of somebody about to die in a plane crash, but she is remarkably calm about this, and seems content about the circumstances of her death.
    I always wanted to die clean and pretty, but I was too busy on working days
    So I am relieved that the turbulence wasn't forecasted, I couldn't have changed anyways.
  • Genre Roulette: Be the Cowboy dips into a few different genres, including country ("Lonesome Love"), baroque pop ("Me and My Husband"), disco ("Nobody"), and dream pop ("Two Slow Dancers").
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Justified since Mitski was born in Japan and is of Japanese origin.
    • "First Love/Late Spring" has the line "mune ga hachikire-sōde"meaning in the chorus.
    • "Liquid Smooth" has the line "Kuzurete yuku maeni"meaning in its second verse.
  • Heavy Meta: "Geyser" is about giving up everything and dedicating oneself to music.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: "Francis Forever", see the page quote.
  • Jump Scare: Fond of these, musically. "Texas Reznikoff," "Valentine, Texas," and "Bug Like an Angel" all begin very understated before dropping very suddenly.
  • Last Note Nightmare:
    • Inverted with "Geyser", which features a second of distortion during its first lines (apparently, it was improvised). Oh, did we say that it's the album opener?
    • From the same album, "Washing Machine Heart" goes into its final seconds with a giddy melody just to be interrupted by a creepy distorted sound that ends abruptly.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: "I Don't Smoke."
    If you need to be mean, be mean to me
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Nobody" is very fun and upbeat musically, but the lyrics talk about being desperate beyond all hope for human connection.
  • Madness Mantra: "Nobody", especially its ending. Per Word of God, it was inspired by a mental breakdown episode in which Mitski started feeling so alone and unimportant that she began rolling on the floor repeating "nobody, nobody" to herself.
  • Men Don't Cry: Addressed on "Real Men," which satirizes hyper-masculinity.
    Real men don't eat, 'cuz they're above that, dammit
    Oh, I'm gonna be a real man
  • Miniscule Rocking: Downplayed, her songs are quite economical but still have "regular" lengths. Most of them clock under three minutes and several don't reach two.
  • My Nayme Is: Her proper birth name is romanized as "Mitsuki", though "Mitski" is a close approximation of its pronounciation in correct Japanese.
  • New Sound Album: Laurel Hell has more synth-pop and disco influences than her previous albums.
    • The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We shifts again to a new sound, with more influence from folk, country, and even choral music.
  • Night and Day Duo: Played with in "Your Best American Girl". The narrator first compares her ex-lover to the sun, then says "I'm not the moon", but still associates herself with the night.
  • Nom de Mom: The "Miyawaki" she's credited under for songwriting is her mother's maiden surname.
  • Non-Appearing Title:
    • Seven out of ten tracks on Bury Me at Makeout Creek don't feature their title in the lyrics (the exceptions being "I Don't Smoke", "I Will" and "Carry Me Out").
    • From Puberty 2: "Dan the Dancer", "Thursday Girl" and "A Burning Hill" fall into this trope.
    • From Be the Cowboy: "Old Friend".
  • Numbered Sequels: Parodied with Puberty 2. Since there's no album named Puberty in Mitski's discography, the implication is that it's a sequel to real-life puberty.
  • The Oner: The video for "Geyser".
  • Questioning Title?: "Why Didn't You Stop Me?"
  • Rock Star Song: "Remember My Name" is about the emotional exhaustion Mitski faced after her ambitious tour schedule.
    I gave too much of my heart tonight.
    Will you come to where I'm staying
    and make some extra love that I can save 'til tomorrow's show?
  • Shout-Out:
    • The title of Bury Me at Makeout Creek is a quote from The Simpsons episode "Faith Off".
    • The line "See the trees' shadows lie in black pools on the lawns" from "Texas Reznikoff" is from the short poem "Moonlit Night" by Charles Reznikoff, the song's namesake.
    • The video for "The Only Heartbreaker" could be an extended reference to Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights", having both singers clothed in a red dress and wandering through a forest. The last few moments of "The Only Heartbreaker" also have Mitski dressed in white, heavily blurred, and standing in a dark space, like the original UK video of "Wuthering Heights".
  • Singer Namedrop: Kinda: "Francis Forever" takes its title from her birth middle name, Francis, though it's a Non-Appearing Title.
  • Surreal Music Video: "Nobody" looks like a weird cross between Luis Buñuel and Don't Hug Me I'm Scared.
  • Tsundere: The narrator in "Lonesome Love" is antagonistic towards and determined to one-up her lover, but she finds herself being won over anyway, which she seems to resent.
  • Uncommon Time: "Drunk Walk Home" is in 5/4, which, together with the song's dissonance, gives it a very unsettling, agitated feeling.
  • Wild Teen Party: "Townie" takes place at an alcohol-fueled teen party with sexually aggressive boys and no apparent supervision. The song deals with the narrator's confusion about her desire to have sex.
  • Workaholic: On "I Don't Like My Mind." The one indulgence the narrator decides to let herself have ends up ruined.
    I blast music loud, and I work myself to the bone
    And on an inconvenient Christmas, I eat a cake
    A whole cake, all for me
    And then I get sick and throw up
  • Title-Only Chorus: "Nobody".
  • Walking Wasteland: In the video for "The Only Heartbreaker" she walks through a forest unwittingly burning it to ashes with her touch, until everything is reduced to a desert and the planet itself gets destroyed.

I always wanted to die clean and pretty, goodbye...