Students express their thoughts on music, part two


Tove Lo music video for “Habits (Stay High)” Oct. 7, 2015

Denise Barajas

We have addressed it before: Sex and drugs are pretty common themes in today’s music, but should these themes always be taken at face value?

Last week, The State Hornet sat down with a few Sacramento State students to ask for their opinions of Rihanna’s music video, “B- Better have my Money.” The responses were so compelling, we decided to go out once more to have students interpret more of today’s mainstream hits.

This week’s music video that was dissected was Tove Lo’s “Habits (Stay High).” The music video is a chronicle of what a night out for Lo consists of after having someone significant in her life leave her. Despite having heard the song multiple times on the radio, majority of students agreed the video gave them a new perspective on Lo’s song.

“I didn’t realize how much intensity there was behind the song until I saw the video because her feelings are expressed so much more through the imagery,” said third-year nursing major Leicia Williams. “Through it, it becomes clear how much she needs to constantly feel numb to forget about someone or something.”

Lupe Vega, a senior kinesiology major, believes Lo’s song just encourages people to think that using drugs as a coping mechanism is permissible.

“I think a lot of people like this song because they can relate to it… but I think that’s because people romanticize the fact that when you’re missing someone or you’re going through pain it’s ok to drink it off,” Vega said. “And I feel like this song really romanticizes that and that shouldn’t be the case because addiction is a very serious problem.”

Despite the song’s chorus that repeats time and time again, “you’re gone, and I gotta stay high all the time to keep you off my mind,” Williams argues that the song’s lyrics should not be taken so literally and that Lo is not simply referring to her smoking.

Instead she believes this conveys Lo’s need to “get high” on anything that is considered to be extreme to fill a new void in her life.

“I think her desperate need to get high, not just on drugs but pretty much anything, is just her trying to reach new extremes, anything to forget the pain she’s going through really,” said Williams. “It’s depressing, she’s clearly got some emotional issues.”

Williams also honed in on aspects of the video that caught her eye.

“Probably when she was kissing both men and women just because it’s not something you see in your average music video,” Williams said. “Just seeing everybody feeling up on her even though it doesn’t seem like she’s enjoying it… I think it just goes to show how desperate she is to have someone in her life and just like her feeling of desperate need to, I guess, get high on anything whether it’s being extreme or not. I think that’s why she’s reaching extremes, to forget.”

Toward the middle of the song Lo sings, “staying in my play pretend where the fun ain’t got no end. Can’t go home alone again, need someone to numb the pain,” while music viewers watch as she breaks down in a bathroom stall. Despite the clear emotional turmoil she is undergoing however, Lo continues to engage in drugs and sexual activity with multiple partners.

When asked what she interpreted from these lyrics in combination with the images in the video, Williams said, “I think it shows her fear of reality. She’s kind of trying to play dumb with different extremities. And she’s trying desperately to keep herself from coming back to reality by constantly being stimulated so that she never reaches that baseline.”

Liberty Estigoy, a senior kinesiology major, agreed and said, “I just see a depressed girl who doesn’t know how to cope with life challenges or certain circumstances. The whole thing just made me sad from the beginning… I really just see someone who is sad and wants out but doesn’t know how.”

After conducting a series of interviews with a variety of students, the general consensus at Sac State seems to be that music, regardless of the theme, must be dissected in order to understand what the musician is trying to vocalize through their art. Lo’s song is an example of this because despite explicitly singing and demonstrating the use of drugs, there is a lot more to it than meets the ear. However, it is on the public to be critical consumers of what they are listening to in order to understand art like Lo’s.

To key-in on your interpretation of Lo’s video, or Rihanna’s video from last week’s paper, go to and drop us a line.