“Lost On You” — LP (Laura Pergolizzi)
When you’re accepted unconditionally by another human being, unimaginable warmth spreads throughout your soul.
This morning I felt something similar when I heard the mainstream BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show — Europe most listened to radio programme — play a song I’ve championed for months.
I’ve gone on and on about the genius of “Lost On You” to the point where I’ve started to bore people a little. Maybe even lost friends through it.
I’d like to think that’s because I’m so cool and “on trend” that I see exciting new songs and performers coming long before the hoi polloi gets to discover them.
But every time I think that might be true, my teenage daughter…fulfilling the role of teenage daughters everywhere…reminds me I’m nowhere near as cool as I like to think I am.
The wonderful thing about “Lost On You”…and why it was such a surprise to hear it on mainstream radio…is that it doesn’t sound like Top 40 radio.
“Lost On You” has a really laid-back vibe, no beats and no rapping…just some strange wailing which sounds like an animal in its death throws, alone somewhere on the bleak tundra, with only the darkness of winter for company.
That sound is in fact made by singer LP (Laura Pergolizzi) herself.
Just being able to make that sound is an accomplishment of note, but the tune is inspired and the lyrics describing a painful break-up are heartfelt.
Not sounding like Top 40 radio has made the journey to the top of the charts a long one for “Lost On You”.
In chart terms, Patient Zero was Greece where “Lost On You” was Number One for months. Italy, France and Israel followed. Then the rest of the world, apart from the UK and the US.
She might have taken the most circuitous route imaginable, but LP was on a journey that took her song from the relative obscurity of one of the recording industry’s smaller markets all the way to Europe’s biggest radio show earlier this morning.
Her skills at other-worldly wailing aside, LP also knows how to write great set of lyrics.
I never thought I’d hear “smoke’em if you got ‘em” — an invitation to take a rest break used by American officers to their troops in WW2 — turn up in a set of modern-day song lyrics. But there it is.
There’s an easy, almost hypnotic, flow to LP’s lyrics…
When you get older, plainer, saner
Will you remember all the danger
We came from?
The interplay of “danger” with “older, plainer, saner” is delightful.
LP takes the same basic structure and runs it through again, this time with a slight twist…
Burning like embers, falling, tender
Longing for the days of no surrender
Then she reaches even further, using “patience” in the second part of verse two as a playful counterpoint to “machinations” and “expectations” in the first part of the verse…
Wishin’ I could see the machinations
Understand the toil of expectations
In your mind
Hold me like you never lost your patience
Tell me that you love me more than hate me
All the time
And you’re still mine
The line “Hold me like you never lost your patience” is especially moving.
Sometimes we blame ourselves for a breakup, even when it wasn’t our fault. We think we’ve snapped something inside our partner. They’ve lost patience with us for not meeting their expectations, however unreasonable those expectations might have been.
We hold them close and hope that soothes their anger…that they love us more than they hate us.
Through it all, we try to understand the “toil of expectations in their mind”.
But still we’re not sure we’ve understood them. Maybe they’re too closed to share, maybe we’re just not that good at unpicking the signs. But we hope beyond hope that if we hold them tightly enough for long enough they’ll love us again and not walk out the door for good.
Then we’d have failed them…and by failing them, we believe we failed ourselves and would deserve whatever we have coming.
So we hold on…sometimes for a lot longer than any sane person would think was reasonable…just because we can’t cope with what we see as our failure to make things right.
Of course, often it’s not our fault at all. It’s just that the person we think loves us never really did. They’re hanging around for what they can get out of us and manoeuvring to put the blame for the eventual break-up on us. A blame we’ll willingly shoulder because we see ourselves as so flawed it doesn’t take much for us to believe everything was our fault all along. Those thoughts can torture us for years…
There is a very slick and artistic “corporate” video for “Lost On You” with strings, backing singers, all manner of subtle instrumentation and smooth studio technique. You can find that here… https://youtu.be/hn3wJ1_1Zsg
However, I really enjoyed a somewhat rawer live performance with LP and a small band sequestered away in a remote log cabin somewhere (at least that’s what it looks like).
You can see in this video that the wailing is done by a real human being, not studio trickery. And there’s an intimacy in the performance that mirrors the intimacy of someone talking about a painful break-up to a small group of friends in a quiet bar somewhere.
Of course, because she’s a songwriter, LP makes this experience into a 3-minute song, rather than the more popular way of getting those feelings out, which involves several hours of downing bottle after bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and talking through tears until the landlord tells us he’s closing the bar for the night.
LP has created one of the most perfect songs of the last few years. Delightfully idiosyncratic, which accounted for its slow rise to the top of the charts in one territory after another around the world.
But its idiosyncrasy is its charm.
And, as of this morning, close on 10 million people listening to the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show have heard it. I hope LP is off to the top of our charts now, the way she has conquered the rest of the world, one country at a time.
A song this good deserves to be heard by as many people as possible.
Here’s LP, with her live performance of “Lost On You” …
The video is below or, if you prefer, you can enjoy the song on Spotify here…https://open.spotify.com/track/2LIh4uzqq9cXMPzzmcToHl
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.