Just Hold On, ii
We learned through promo that Just Hold On was not written specifically in response to Jay’s illness, but was a song that had been written on 2016 after Louis direct-messaged Steve on Twitter.
Then the video came out yesterday. The story of the video is of two people who meet as strangers, spend time doing fun things together, become romantically involved, get fun-married, and speed through a space-time warp to different parts of the world.
I thought it was super cute. The actors were good together, there was international and racial inclusivity, and the message was upbeat.
In the meantime, I learned more about the structure of EDM songs, which is a little bit different than a typical pop song.
||: Chorus :||
An EDM song has no bridge. Instead, there’s a pop drop moment when the electronics take over—in JHO, the kind of soaring-into-space sound. The distinction between sections also tends to be less pronounced– the bass of the first verse might become the focus of the chorus, for instance.
With the above in mind, I listened to the lyrics of “Just Hold On” again, asking myself these questions.
1. Why is this song a love story?
2. Why is there a contrast between the positivity of the video and the sadness/ need for reassurance in the lyrics? Does the time frame in which it was written matter?
The following is my personal opinion.
The lyrics clearly address someone, “Darling.” The video has offered one interpretation that this person is a love interest.
The singer seems to be poised between two times, the future, which he wishes he could see (via a time machine), and the past, the “chapter” that has “ended.”
It’s a time of flux and open possibility. “You can be who you were/ or who you’ll become.”
The present, or the near future– what he can see of it– is not so great. Something bad has, or is about to, happen. “If it all goes wrong/ darling, just hold on.”
At the time the song was performed, we thought Jay’s illness was the sad event referred to in the song. And it still may be. There isn’t only one interpretation to a song. But the video explicitly associates the song to romantic love, and we can’t just ignore that this love is linked to these lyrics.
It’s not over ‘til it’s all been said
It’s not over ‘til your dying breath
So what do you want them to say when you’re gone?
That you gave up or that you kept going on?
The tone of the lyrics is one of persistence through suffering– the “dying breath.” It’s not about fun or partying or dancing or gambling. It’s not about a hook-up or a casual fling.
It’s about fighting back. It’s about surviving and returning to life. The fact that there’s a marriage in the video shows that the relationship goes deeper than momentary fun. It’s about commitment, hope, mutual support.
The “pop drop” moment is the moment when the main message of the song is repeated over and over. In this case, the singer sings to the second person– the love interest, according to the video. Or it could be the love interest singing back; both make sense. “If it all goes wrong/ darling, just hold on.”
The implication is that all WILL go wrong. The lyrics anticipate disaster. And the singer says, don’t let disaster break your relationship. Be strong. Hold on.
It’s a brave, kind, reassuring message. Given the events in Louis’s personal life in the last two years, culminating in the ridiculous, terrible charade at LAX airport that resulted in his being dragged through the criminal and civil justice systems– of all the participants, he was the most innocent one who was there that day, and unbelievably, the only person arrested– I marvel at his inner strength, his moral courage, his tenacity, kindness, intelligence, and sangfroid.
I want to thank Louis and Steve for making this amazing song.
Jay, you raised such a great person. You’d be so proud.