The indie pop summer jam, “I Wanna Get Better,” topped the the Billboard Alternative Songs Chart in July and became Bleachers’ first number-one single. But don’t be surprised by the band’s sudden rise to fame—Jack Antonoff, Bleachers’ frontman, has already earned an impressive track record as lead guitarist for Fun and co-writer of Sara Bareilles’ Grammy-nominated hit, “Brave.”
Bleachers’ hit single puts bouncy pop instrumentals against heavy, emotionally charged lyrics. The contrast is awkward but fitting, mirroring the song’s thematic tension between facing pain and finding hope. From a spiritual perspective, this song paints a picture of the battle to keep your heart intact when you experience loss and disappointment.
… I chase that feeling
Of an eighteen year old who didn’t know what loss was
Now I’m a stranger
And I miss the days of a life still permanent
Mourn the years before I got carried away
Through each verse, Jack tells his story. When he was 18 years old, his younger sister, Sarah, died from cancer. The next year, Jack’s cousin lost his life in the Iraq War. Jack was devastated. This song captures that time in his life where he struggled to cope with his loss, and eventually had to make a decision to move forward with his life: “I wanna get better.”
In a blaze of fear I put a helmet on a helmet
Counting seconds through the night and got carried away
Pain can make us afraid, especailly when we are worried that the pain we feel won’t go away. To protect himself, Jack admits that he put a “helmet on a helmet” over his heart. A helmet can block the pain, but the truth is that it also blocks out our ability to heal, feel healthy emotions, and experience intimacy in relationships. As the song says, we can get carried away. The Bible talks about this as well, but adds another dimension.
They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
There are plenty of things we can harden our hearts to: pain, loss, disappointment, even guilt. When our hearts grow hard, our outlook on life darkens and we take a turn away from the life God wants us to live. Our relationship with God has everything do with our hearts. He wants to help us heal and find hope again, but that can’t happen until we take off the helmet.
Out of the darkness
Woke up this morning early before my family
From this dream where she was trying to show me
How a life can move from the darkness
She said to get better
Pain is hard. Loss is hard. But our lives go on and we each decide how we will respond. We can stay in the darkness or we can try to find the light.
Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.
Life hits us all, and when it does, God empathizes and feels for us. He empathizes with our pain, but also uses sadness to refine us. It makes us stronger, wiser, and more compassionate. It makes us reflect on our priorities and the condition of our relationships, and can lead us to grow. It can even make us stop and remember God, which is more important than we may realize. And if we want, God can make us better.
I didn’t know I was broken ’til i wanted to change
I wanna get better, better, better, better
I wanna get better