Song Breakdown: Six Ways Giveon Creates Heartbreak in Only the First Verse of “Heartbreak Anniversary”

Heartbreak Anniversary is a lovely, sad song about experiencing heartbreak. Even in the first Verses, we can see all of the different tools and devices that the songwriter uses to create the emotion of the song. Let’s take a closer look to understand everything that is happening.

Listen to the song here.

Harmony

The first Verse starts with the tonic chord (I or C major), then plays the dominant chord of the sixth-minor chord (V7/vi or E7). This chord tends to resolve to the sixth minor chord (vi or A minor), but instead, it resolves to the fourth chord (IV or F major). 

By not resolving the dominant seventh chord, the unresolved feeling that is expressed in the lyrics is mimicked in the harmony. We hear that stay unresolved for two bars, creating a feeling of “hanging on” and a lot of space. We feel the space that is described in the Verses.

Number of Lines

The Verses have three lines each. The odd number of lines also makes the song feel unstable and unresolved:

Balloons are deflated
Guess they look lifeless like me
We miss you on your side of the bed

Still got your things here
And they stare at me like souvenirs
Don’t wanna let you out my head

Rhymes

Notice the rhymes. The Verses rhyme with each other (“me” and “souvenirs”, “bed” and “head”) rather than the rhymes occurring one after another. This also contributes to the feeling of instability.

Melody

Also listen to where the melody begins. If you are counting (this song is in 4/4), you will hear that the melody begins after the first beat. Any melody that does not begin on the first beat or emphasize the first word on the first beat will end up feeling a little disjointed.

Assumptions

Using an image of deflated balloons is a great device to describe the state of their relationship. It also creates assumptions of where or how the balloons were obtained, as well as hinting at the “anniversary” in the Chorus.

Personification

Both the balloons and the souvenirs are personified in place of the person that isn’t there. The balloons and the main character “miss you”. Their things “stare at me”. By using personification, he has described how the relationship is still alive without saying it directly.

This song’s Chorus is killer and the song has a great, unique title. Verses are often understated and Giveon really shows how he establishes the song from the very beginning. These are valuable tools to use in songwriting and using even a few of them will definitely support the emotion of your song.

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