Yes, we do know it’s the school holidays, but as far as fun activities go, it’s hard to think of anything more enjoyable than listening to Creeper, Against The Current, Bring Me The Horizon, Enter Shikari, Linkin Park, All Time Low, PVRIS and Lande Hekt…
Darkness is often used to convey feelings of fear, anxiety, guilt and other familiar sensations. If you have the opportunity to analyse ‘the dark’, just make sure not to skim through its potential connotations. When analysing any text, you need to make sure you demonstrate your ability to explore themes in a multi-layered way. So, yes, that word ‘darkness’ might create a sense of trepidation, but take a moment to really explore why/how.
Below, you will find 8 lyrics from some of our favourite songs. Think about why these artists have chosen to use the word ‘dark’, ‘darker’ or ‘darkness’…
Aim to come up with 2 aspects of ‘darkness’ that feel worthy of consideration when looking at each quote. Ultimately, you’ll find that the ideas you come up with will support your analysis of ‘darkness’ within your own course texts – as shall be proved later!
Alright, let’s look at the first one together…
Creeper sing: “Here comes the dark / Oh, here comes the dark”
Remember, we’re aiming to think of at least 2 reasons why that word ‘dark’ felt useful to Creeper.
What could we say?
Firstly, we need to keep hold of the basic idea that darkness is typically presented as a frightening proposition. But don’t simply say that and move on. What do we really know about darkness that makes it so frightening?
- It’s the idea that the darkness is coming of its own accord. It has a power all of its own – the fact that it’s unstoppable makes it frightening.
- Secondly, there’s the inevitability of darkness. Even at the start of the day, there’s nothing more certain than the end of it. The dark is waiting.
So, to summarise:
Creeper find the ‘dark’ imagery useful because it conveys the power and inevitability of whatever is coming their way.
Okay, explore the next 7 lyrics on your own. When you’ve got as far as you can, take a look at our ideas further down this page.
Bring Me The Horizon sing: “everything is going dark”
Why does the word ‘dark’ feel so useful to Bring Me The Horizon? What ideas/feelings are they exploring and why does that word ‘dark’ suit their needs so well?
All Time Low sing: “They left us alone / The kids in the dark / To burn out forever / Or light up a spark”
Why does the word ‘dark’ feel so useful to All Time Low? What ideas/feelings are they exploring and why does that word ‘dark’ suit their needs so well?
Against The Current sing: “Is this paradise? Or a darker side?”
Why does the word ‘darker’ feel so useful to Against The Current? What ideas/feelings are they exploring and why does that word ‘darker’ suit their needs so well?
PVRIS sing: “You’re a cold-blooded killer only after dark”
Why does the word ‘dark’ feel so useful to PVRIS? What ideas/feelings are they exploring and why does that word ‘dark’ suit their needs so well?
Lande Hekt sings: “in the darkness while we wait”
Why does the word ‘darkness’ feel so useful to Lande Hekt? What ideas/feelings is she exploring and why does that word ‘darkness’ suit her needs so well?
Linkin Park sing: “I watch how the moon sits in the sky in the dark night”
Why does the word ‘dark’ feel so useful to Linkin Park? What ideas/feelings are they exploring and why does that word ‘dark’ suit their needs so well?
Enter Shikari sing: “We’ll write songs in the dark”
Why does the word ‘dark’ feel so useful to Enter Shikari? What ideas/feelings are they exploring and why does that word ‘dark’ suit their needs so well?
Before you go any further, make sure you’ve taken the time you need to have a think about the lyrics from each of the seven songs. Hopefully you’ve had time to enjoy the music too!
Now, look below to see the ideas we came up with….
Maybe yours won’t match with ours, but that’s fine – be proud of your own original thinking!
So, here are our thoughts, wrapped together in a way that can hopefully serve as a reminder to us all that – just as darkness is inevitable – so too is light! If you’re lost in the shadows, take a deep breath and hold on tight. The darkness will NOT last forever.
Bring Me The Horizon sing that: “everything is going dark.” Here, Oli Sykes and co. draw our attention to the fact that darkness is inescapable. There’s no hiding from it. It swallows everything it touches. The size of the problems Bring Me The Horizon are facing are clearly enormous. The scale of darkness is almost inestimable and so we understand the reason for the anxiety at the heart of ‘Teardrops’.
All Time Low sing that: “They left us alone / The kids in the dark / To burn out forever / Or light up a spark”. Here, the darkness is again presented as frightening – children are typically understood to fear the dark. The lack of visibility creates a surge in imagination. Suddenly, there might be monsters under our bed, simply because we can’t say for sure that there are not! However, All Time Low also raise the idea that darkness isn’t quite the omnipotent force we’ve come to fear during the Creeper and BMTH songs. We can create our own light, We can fight back.
Against The Current sing: “Is this paradise? Or a darker side?” Paradise is typically understood as a place of perfect happiness, and in so clearly highlighting the darkness as paradise’s opposite, we are encouraged to understand it as something imperfect. Key too, though, is the sense that vocalist Chrissy Costanza seems uncertain as to whether she is in paradise or in a darker place altogether. This fits with All Time Low’s idea that darkness is in some sense unknowable – and that makes it even more threatening.
PVRIS sing: “You’re a cold-blooded killer only after dark”. Darkness here is presented as a time of transition. The transformation is certainly not presented in a positive way. The suggestion is that when darkness falls, people act in a way they absolutely wouldn’t in daylight hours. PVRIS create a sense of darkness being frightening because it’s dangerous – and it’s dangerous because those with unsavoury intentions feel safe beneath its cover. Darkness makes people feel invisible.
Lande Hekt sings: “in the darkness while we wait” – and in doing so she begins to unveil a really important message: darkness will pass! The waiting may not be fun, but it will be worth it. Yes, it’s true that darkness is in some ways inevitable, but equally certain is the fact that the darkness will disappear. And Lande’s use of that pronoun ‘we’ is critical too. Darkness is in many ways illusory; it can make you feel more alone than you are. But just because you can’t see the other people in the darkness with you, it doesn’t mean they’re not there. And together we’re more powerful than the darkness. We will still be standing when the darkness is forced to retreat.
Linkin Park sing: “I watch how the moon sits in the sky in the dark night,” and in doing so they build on Lande’s more optimistic perspective. The darkness is not so powerful after all. It’s permeable and if you’re stuck in a dark place, even the tiniest light will glow like a zillion fireflies. The darker the setting in fact, the brighter your light will shine. Linkin Park’s moon represents the hope and possibility that ALWAYS exists. Linkin Park’s darkness is happy to let the moon ‘sit’ – there is no sense of conflict. The darkness is actually working in harmony with the light.
Enter Shikari sing: “We’ll write songs in the dark.” It’s an exciting lyric to finish with because the band highlight the dark as a place in which we can still sharpen our potential. They might well use the dark to symbolise the negative forces in the world, but Shikari remind us that, just as the dark can serve as cover for the world’s unsavoury elements, so it can act as shelter for those of us who have more worthwhile intentions. Typically, darkness might be understood as frightening, and sometimes it certainly can be, but it’s also true that we can learn a way to make use of it.
- Supremely powerful (Creeper)
- Inevitable (Creeper)
- Inescapable (BMTH)
- Enormous (BMTH)
- Unknowable (ATL)
- Conquerable (ATL)
- Imperfect (ATC)
- Threatening (ATC)
- A time of change (PVRIS)
- A form of cover (PVRIS)
- Temporary (Lande Hekt)
- Illusory (Lande Hekt)
- Permeable (Linkin Park)
- Passive (Linkin Park)
- A place of potential (Enter Shikari)
- Shelter (Enter Shikari)
Now, look at the use of the words dark, darkness, darker (etc.) within the texts you’re studying at school.
Collect some key ‘dark’ quotes from each of your texts. If none spring to mind, look for a version of each set text online. Then ‘CTRL / f’ and search ‘dark’ within each text. Then it will be easy to pick the quotes you like!
Next to each quote, note down what the writer is trying to suggest by using that ‘darkness’ imagery. Use the ideas inspired by the 8 songs we’ve just studied.
‘Othello’, Emilia (Act 4, Scene 3): “Nor I neither by this heavenly light; / I might do’t as well i’ the dark.” Shakespeare wants us to understand the darkness as a cover (see PVRIS, ‘Death of Me’) for your indiscretions, yes, but equally if you consider a woman’s position in Elizabethan as shelter (see Enter Shikari, Radiate) from the inequality inherent in that society. The darkness isn’t presented in its normal frightening way here. Actually, what’s more frightening is the idea that women are forced to find sanctuary there.
‘The Great Gatsby’, (Chapter 1): “he (Jay Gatsby) stretched out his arms toward the dark water.” Fitzgerald wants us to understand the darkness as unknowable (see All Time Low, Kids In The Dark) and imperfect (see Against The Current, Wasteland). Both these characteristics of darkness fit with Gatsby’s position as a man of ‘new money’. He can’t be expected to understand Daisy or Tom’s nuanced lifestyle, or their position as representatives of an elitist society that is more shadowy than it looked from a distance.
We would love to see what ideas you came up with in relation to any of the above. We will publish the best work! Send your notes here.
Now check out our lesson on light with Holding Absence and YONAKA.
Main lesson image by Little Visuals.