For the second song in our mini-series with three different perspectives on love, courtesy of recent releases by some of the UK’s most popular artists, here’s Rita Ora with “Let You Love Me”.
(If you missed the first article, you can find James Arthur’s take on the subject of love in his song “Empty Space” here.)
I’ve always liked Rita Ora’s voice — it’s got such a lovely, sweet, bright tone to it. I always feel much more positive about the world after listening to one of her songs.
Although she was involved in the music industry for a while beforehand, Rita Ora first attracted attention for most people when she guested on DJ Fresh’s “Hot Right Now” (here if you need a reminder…https://youtu.be/N7OPZOBJZyI ).
Since then, she’s done some great records including “Your Song” (no, not a cover of the Elton John song), “Anywhere” (a personal favourite, with a lovely melody) and “Lonely Together” with the sadly recently-departed Avicii.
But today we’re not discussing any of those great Rita Ora songs. It’s her new release, “Let You Love Me”, that we’re taking a closer look at…
This has an interesting premise for a love song. Most love songs are about putting yourself on the line and pleading with someone to love you as much as you love them.
“Let You Love Me” comes from a different place. It’s sung by someone who knows they’re being pursued by someone but can’t find it within themselves to let their guard down and allow another human being to love them.
On the outside everything appears normal. You might go for a drink or two with someone, have a good time at a party or take in a movie together. On the surface you’re laughing and joking, you’re both polite and civil, and at some level you like this person…maybe even care for them very much…but you know there’s something inside that won’t let you dismantle the fences you’ve built over the years.
I should’ve stayed with you last night
Instead of going out to find trouble
That’s just trouble
I think I run away sometimes
Whenever I get too vulnerable
That’s not your fault
Life isn’t great if finding someone who’s prepared to love you makes you feel vulnerable…so much so that you take yourself out of the situation rather than hang around.
But it happens. Perhaps you’ve been in a particularly bad relationship and you think every relationship is destined to go the same way.
Running away when you realise someone’s developing feelings for you makes perfect sense in those situations…after all, you know how it ended last time in similar circumstances and you don’t want to go through anything like that ever again.
Maybe your past relationships haven’t been bad in themselves, in the sense that you haven’t been physically or mentally threatened. But over the years, you’ve learned that people you try to get close to, and care for deeply, invariably cast you aside the minute there’s a better offer on the table.
After that’s happened a few times, you start to doubt your own self-worth and decide that it’s safer just to shut down people who try to get close to you.
You might feel completely alone in the world, but that’s at least one step up from feeling both completely alone and worthless at the same time when yet another lover leaves you for someone taller, smarter or funnier…which, in your mind, you’ve convinced yourself they will.
Although the language of love is woven throughout almost every aspect of popular culture…even to the point of unimaginative advertisers running ads which go something like “Love pizza? Love Joe’s Pizza Shack!”…it’s surprisingly easy to get to the point where giving up on the hope of ever finding love seems like a perfectly reasonable decision when set against the pain of another broken heart.
That protective barrier…self-protective barrier, more accurately…is what Rita Ora sings about in “Let You Love Me”.
She knows the “right thing to do” is to let this guy love her, but she can’t bring herself to allow it.
This is where the love-infused popular culture starts to play tricks on your mind. Society’s default setting is that if someone loves you, then you should let them, and love them back in return. But society has often taught people…and especially girls…that if someone shows the outward signs of loving them and they don’t reciprocate, it means there’s something wrong with them.
That’s where Rita Ora gets to…blaming herself for not allowing someone to love her…
I wish that I could let you love me
Wish I could let you love me
Say, what’s the matter, what’s the matter with me?
What’s the matter with me?
Oh, I wish that I could let you love
Wish I could let you love me now
We’re led to believe this is an otherwise great guy. There’s nothing negative said about him and he’s probably the sort of person that your friends would say “you’d be mad not to take up with him”.
The “problem”…not quite the right word, I accept…seems to be entirely in Rita Ora’s head. It’s not that he’s a bad person…in fact, probably quite the opposite…but she can’t bring herself to let him in.
And every time I push away
I really wanna say that I’m sorry
But I say nothing
“Let Me Love You” is a song with more questions than answers. There’s no happy ending just before the three-minute mark. Rita Ora just tails off, asking herself over and over why she can’t bring herself to let this guy love her, wishing she could, and blaming herself for the fact she can’t.
If there’s one thing I’m glad of, it’s the fact that Rita Ora doesn’t just do the easy thing and give in. She doesn’t tell herself things will work out fine and convince herself to do what society at large, and all her friends, are probably telling her to do.
It takes courage and determination not to do the easy thing. And it can mess with your mind in ways you can’t anticipate.
Rita Ora can’t quite get rid of the societal pressure to just go along with it and take up with someone who’s clearly a “good catch” and whose love appears sincere (don’t get me started on how the perspective on whether this is the “right answer” or not is entirely different whether you’re talking about a man or a woman, though…).
But she sticks to her guns. Good on you, Rita!
Even though she might not know why, and even if the issue only exists in her mind, she stood up for herself in the face of plenty of people trying to convince her to take a different tack.
It’s an unusual premise for a love song…which is what makes it interesting. And I do love Rita Ora’s light, sweet, bright voice which is reason enough on its own to make “Let You Love Me” worth listening to. Here it is…
The video is below but if you prefer, you can enjoy the song on Spotify here…https://open.spotify.com/track/6xtcFXSo8H9BZN637BMVKS
PS — just before we get to the video, if you enjoyed this article, please give it a “clap”…or even more than one if you’re feeling kind. You can also follow me on Medium (here) or Twitter (here) to get new articles as soon as they’re published.