Song of the Week: “California” by EMA

By Sydney Moyer, Muse Editor

With “Going to California,” “California Girls,” “California Gurls,” and “California Dreamin’,” the West Coast has often served a muse for love-struck and sun-kissed singer-songwriters. When we think of California and songs about it, images of sun and palm trees float before our eyes, and we’re nostalgic for a place to which we may have never even been.

But on the shuddering opening note to South Dakota-born EMA’s “California,” we find an entirely different and more disconcerting picture painted before us. Through hushed noise guitar and heartbreakingly spit-balled opening line (“F*ck California / You made me boring”), we see a completely different side of the Golden State.

As EMA weaves a tale of disillusionment and longing for days lost, we find ourselves slipping through the cracks in the LA sidewalk right along with her. She mourns for a time in which success in showbiz wasn’t the only thing that mattered (“What does failure taste like? / To me it tastes like dirt”), and in doing so, forces us to reexamine our own dreams and presumptions.

“California” is systematic deconstruction at its finest, and even if it makes us a little uncomfortable, we can only appreciate it more for that.

If you’re hanging around Boston this spring break, catch EMA at Brighton Music Hall on March 15.

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