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.
Mitski Miyakawi, mononymously known as Mitski (born on September 27, 1990), is an American indie rock singer-songwriter. Born in Tokyo from an American father and a Japanese mother, she 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 her self-released 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 (and from working outside jobs to support her financially), Mitski had a brief stint as vocalist of a prog-metal band before starting to work on her third album. Switching to a rawer, guitar-driven sound, Bury Me at Makeout Creek was recorded in makeshift studios in friends' homes and was her label debut. After its release in 2014, Bury Me at Makeout Creek received critical acclaim, a feat repeated two years later with Puberty 2. Mitski ended up opening for Lorde, and "Francis Forever" was Covered Up by Olivia Olson (as Marceline) 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. Unsurprisingly, she was once again lauded by critics, with the album being named best of the year by none other than Vulture, Pitchfork and Consequence of Sound.
- Lush (2012)
- Retired from Sad, New Career in Business (2013)
- Bury Me at Makeout Creek (2014)
- Puberty 2 (2016)
- Be the Cowboy (2018)
I'm just asking for the tropes, give me some good honest tropes:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 jewellery. 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.
- 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.
- 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 daysSo 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 stayingand 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".
- 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.
- Title-Only Chorus: "Nobody".
- Verbal Tic: She's fond of putting the word "baby" in her lyrics. "I Bet on Losing Dogs" is a major offender.