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Music / Sarah McLachlan

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Hi, I'm Sarah McLachlan. Will YOU be an angel for a helpless animal?

Sarah Ann McLachlan OC (born January 28, 1968) is a Canadian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. She specializes in emotional music that is a mixture of baroque pop, folk-rock, and adult contemporary. Stevie Nicks has credited her among female artists who embody the spirit of "elegant old rock and roll"note . She is also known for her soothing mezzo-soprano voice. In addition to her personal artistic efforts, she founded the Lilith Fair tour, which showcased female musicians in the late 1990s and in 2010. It was originally created in backlash of radio stations not wanting to plays songs by female artists back-to-back.

She is mainly popular due to her Signature Song "Angel" (made for The Smashing Pumpkins' touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin, who died of a heroin overdose), iconic for its memetic use for Tear Jerker situations, most notably a commercial for the ASPCA.


  • Touch (1988)
  • Solace (1991)
  • Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (1993)
  • Rarities, B-Sides and Other Stuff (1996, mostly covers and remixes)
  • Surfacing (1997)
  • Mirrorball (1999)
  • Afterglow (2003)
  • Wintersong (2006)
  • Laws of Illusion (2010)
  • Shine On (2014)
  • Wonderland (2016)

"In the tropes of the angel":

  • Animal Lover: Famously, "Angel" is used in a Tear Jerker Infomercial for the ASPCA, in which Sarah shows that animal cruelty is bad and abused animals need someone to care for them.
  • Audience Participation Song: "Blackbird", "Ice Cream", really any one of them.
  • Award-Bait Song:
  • Break-Up Song: "U Want Me 2". However it would perhaps be more correct to discuss the songs that could not be classified as Breakup Songs.
  • Broken Bird
  • Canada, Eh?
  • Christmas Songs: She has recorded two albums of them.
  • Cover Version: She's covered "Dear God" by XTC, "Song for a Winter Night" by Gordon Lightfoot, Blue and "River" by Joni Mitchell, "Gloomy Sunday" by Rezső Seress, "Blackbird" by The Beatles (for the soundtrack of i am sam), "Homeless" by Paul Simon, "Unchained Melody" by The Righteous Brothers, and "The Rainbow Connection". Pretty much all of Wintersong consists of covers. She also covered the chorus of Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle" for DMC's song "Just Like Me".
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Touch, and to a lesser degree, Solace.
  • God-Is-Love Songs: "The Prayer of St Francis".
  • Grief Song: You'd be better off listing the ones that aren't.
    • "Push" isn't, but it seems unlikely that Sarah will play it after her marriage fell apart.
  • Hidden Track/Rearrange the Song: Fumbling Towards Ecstasy has a second version of "Possession", this one an acoustic piano ballad, as a hidden track at the end.
  • Instrumentals: "Last Dance" on Surfacing.
  • Isn't It Ironic?: "Angel" is about heroin abuse, specifically the fatal overdose of The Smashing Pumpkins' touring keyboardist, Jonathan Melvoin; but is used in a PSA narrated by McLachlan herself for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • "Possession", one of her most upbeat, rockingest songs, is about a stalker.
    • "Angel" is about the overdose of Jonathan Melvoin.
    • "Building a Mystery", when really you listen to the lyrics, notably contrasts with the warm, laid-back feel of the song. At least one live performance she's done of it turns it into a harder, grunge-style song, putting particular emphasis on the "screaming loud" and "fucked up" lines.
    • Most of her songs are this trope. "Vox", "Fallen", etc.
  • Ms. Fanservice: She appeared in two of the Solace-era videos naked, although it was obviously meant for artistic purposes rather than to look sexy.
  • Non-Appearing Title: Excluding covers, "Awakenings," "Ben's Song," "Dirty Little Secret," "Elsewhere," "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy," "Last Dance," "Out of the Shadows," "Possession," "Touch," "Sad Clown," "Song for My Father," "Uphill Battle," "Vox," and "Wintersong" all fall under this trope. Most of these songs come from her first album, although some of these, most notably "Awakenings," are much more recent. To an extent, "Circle," "Illusions of Bliss," and "The Path of Thorns" could also fall under this trope.
  • Obsession Song/Stalker with a Crush: "Possession." An obsessed fan sued McLachlan, claiming that she had used the love letters he wrote to her in the song's lyrics. He committed suicide before the suit ever went to trial and McLachlan has remained silent on the matter to this day.
  • Precision F-Strike: "A beautiful fucked up man" in "Building A Mystery".
  • Property of Love: "Sweet Surrender" certainly sounds like this. The singer has decisively left some unpleasant past behind ("the life I've left behind me is a cold room"), and is taken in by lover who will "strip away the ugliness that surrounds me." The singer is clearly submitting to her lover: "I only hope that I won't disappoint you/When I'm down here on my knees."
  • Protest Song: "World On Fire". The video borders on Anvilicious as it lists every expense that went into the video and what was bought with the money instead.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Not only is "Possession" about a stalker, the lyrics were supposedly inspired by actual stalking letters that McLachlan received from her very own stalker. Who then tried to sue her for plagiarism.
  • Record Producer: All her albums since Solace have been produced by Pierre Marchand; the others, as a result, suffer from Early-Installment Weirdness.
  • Ripped from the Headlines:
    • She wrote "Angel" after seeing several famous musicians die of heroin overdoses.
    • "World On Fire" was inspired by the 9/11 attacks.
  • Self-Deprecation: She appeared in a Super Bowl commercial that, for a small scene, parodied her ads supporting animal adoption.
  • Star-Spangled Spandex: The music video for "Building a Mystery" has a dress like this.
  • Urban Fantasy: The video for "Building A Mystery" was this; interspersed with scenes of Sarah singing the song, a man wanders the world, collecting light from various sources, and sews the lights into a piece of clothing. When the man heads out again, Sarah stops singing, walks into the room, and tries it on, revealing a dress which looks like the night sky. Admittedly, it doesn't make much more sense in context.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: "U Want Me 2".