Is “We are Young” by Fun about domestic violence?

fun-we-are-young-lyrics

So I may have got my wires crossed, but one of the catchiest songs of 2012 was Fun’s “We are Young.” We had it on repeat on the Now 87 all Summer and as the kids sang along I listened to the lyrics:

“We Are Young”
(feat. Janelle Monáe)

Give me a second I, I need to get my story straight My friends are in the bathroom getting higher than the Empire State My lover she’s waiting for me just across the bar My seat’s been taken by some sunglasses asking ’bout a scar, and I know I gave it to you months ago I know you’re trying to forget But between the drinks and subtle things The holes in my apologies, you know I’m trying hard to take it back So if by the time the bar closes And you feel like falling down I’ll carry you homeTonight
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun

Tonight
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun

Now I know that I’m not
All that you got
I guess that I, I just thought
Maybe we could find new ways to fall apart
But our friends are back
So let’s raise a toast
‘Cause I found someone to carry me home

Tonight
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun

Tonight
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun

Carry me home tonight (Nananananana)
Just carry me home tonight (Nananananana)
Carry me home tonight (Nananananana)
Just carry me home tonight (Nananananana)

The moon is on my side (Nananananana)
I have no reason to run (Nananananana)
So will someone come and carry me home tonight (Nananananana)
The angels never arrived (Nananananana)
But I can hear the choir (Nananananana)
So will someone come and carry me home (Nananananana)

Tonight
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun

Tonight
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun

So if by the time the bar closes
And you feel like falling down
I’ll carry you home tonight

Its that first verse that scared me.
OK so the casual talk about drug usage wasn’t great – “getting higher than the empire state.”
But more of the problem was this little section:
“My seat’s been taken by some sunglasses asking ’bout a scar, and
I know I gave it to you months ago
I know you’re trying to forget
But between the drinks and subtle things
The holes in my apologies, you know”
Sounds like his girlfriend is talking to a stranger (with sunglasses) about a scar that her boyfriend gave her that he tried to apologise for but the only way he can make it up to her is saying that if she gets too drunk to get herself home he will carry her home.
OK so as I say I may have misheard it, someone put me right so I can enjoy this song again.
Thanks
Krish

About the author: Krish Kandiah

Founding Director: Home for Good Executive Producer: Books for Life Vice President: Tearfund Tutor: Regents Park College, Oxford University

13 comments to “Is “We are Young” by Fun about domestic violence?”

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  1. Charity Erickson - January 14, 2013 at 7:44 pm Reply

    Huh, interesting catch. I’ve never really understood what he was saying there – I think I’ve always put the word “cigar” where the word is actually “scar.” Well, that’s pop music for you. I’m pretty sure the song “Beauty and a Beat” features Nicki Minaj talking about drugging and raping Justin Bieber. Haven’t really heard any outrage about it. It’s nuts.

  2. Joy - January 14, 2013 at 11:15 pm Reply

    It might be talking about an emotional scar left by her ex? And the ‘so if by the time the bar closes you feel like falling down’ might be referring to the woman leaving the bar missing her ex, and feeling emotionally low?

    But these things are always open to interpretation!

  3. Steve Wade - January 15, 2013 at 1:02 am Reply

    Given the video, likely to be scar from a party that got out of hand. So drink/drug-fuelled violence.

  4. Yickster - May 22, 2013 at 2:46 am Reply

    I agree that the 1st verse is cringe-inducing – you analyzed it perfectly. If the video didn’t contain at least 2 clear images of male-on-female violence (it ends with a guy cracking a girl over the head with a stool, FFS!) – I might be swayed by the argument that the song is trying to ‘shine a light on domestic violence’, or something in that vein. The problem is no-one (the band, the promoters, the music press) seems to be even making that argument! It’s chilling to think that this insidious message is sliding into pop culture on the back of a seemingly-upbeat, advertisment-ready little ditty that is now the biggest thing since Gagnam….

  5. tina - September 21, 2013 at 11:37 pm Reply

    Well I’m kinda late to the party but the song is actually about an emotional scar
    The lead singer got confronted about this (which I believe the person who confronted him was a feminist, but im a feminist)
    And basically she (I think it was a women)
    Asked him why would he sing about domestic abuse
    And he told her it was about an emotional scar
    Those happen too

    • Marya - December 17, 2013 at 10:52 pm Reply

      How would a stranger know about an emotional scar? I might buy it if the video didn’t contain images of violence against women. Sounds more likely that the lead singer said that to get out of a sticky situation.

      • Kevin - March 3, 2014 at 5:35 pm Reply

        Marya, it is meant to be poetic. I urge you to read less into the literal meanings of lyrics and delve into some famous authors, songwriters, and poets. Even in popular rock music, for example, Monster. It’s not about a literal monster locked up inside of yourself, it is a simile.

        • dfry - August 28, 2014 at 9:59 pm Reply

          Ridiculous! While it may be poetic to sing about anything, fess up! The song is about violence. Whether by drug induced accident or any other reason. The writer has every right to write about it. The line “get my story straight” tells it all. The guy is looking to lie and hoping his ex will get drunk enough that he can play the hero by getting her home. As with many [very many] songs and poems “Burn bright as the sun” means be stupid, ‘Hey, we young!’
          The music is great. I like it. Don’t really care about the lyrics, they could sing their ABC’s to that music and it would be catchy.

  6. arran tales - May 23, 2014 at 4:44 am Reply

    HOW COULD SOMEBODY SEE AN EMOTIONAL SCAR?

  7. hgteros - December 1, 2016 at 10:51 am Reply

    You can see an emotional scar if you have high EQ :). You must know someone in your life who are very sensitive of other’s emotions.

  8. zaztower - January 6, 2017 at 8:12 am Reply

    Although a catchy song, i understand what you mean. This song to me says, “Yea i messed you up the other night. We were ‘drunk’. But in the end i have your back.” . Honestly, i don’t like this message but the sad truth is that it was common to see this between a couple, back when. Anyway lets not forget that norms between relationships can always seize to improve with the understanding to leave negativity behind.

  9. John Kirchner - March 20, 2017 at 12:32 am Reply

    Lead singer Nate Ruess says the lyrics were inspired by one specific night, after “my worst drinking night of all time.” Ruess told ”[[Rolling Stone]]” that he was kicked out of a taxi cab for vomiting all over it. “The cabbie was demanding all this money, and all I could do was stand on the corner with my head against the wall. It took me another day before I was a functioning adult and could actually write down the verses,” he said.[http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=24878 We Are Young by Fun.] – Songfacts (accessed January 25, 2013)

  10. JuniperDelilah - April 10, 2017 at 4:56 pm Reply

    I think it’s about alcohol influenced violence which unfortunately happens to a lot of people, people aren’t the same person while waisted, if the lead singer did admit it was emotional scar in sure it was because he felt threatened or intemidated by the feminist that asked him about it. I frequently feel threatened by feminists, and unfortunately due to human nature equality will never be equal. Someone or group or social stance will always want at least the sway of power to be in there own favor. Which is a bit irrational considering behind the scenes women have for a great part called the shots. Hence that “power of the V” razor blade commercial. Wars have generally been fought for love or religion. And I think that is beautiful, yet I do find it unfortunate that so many women feel as if there self worth is dictated by the male controlled population. From a scientific evolutionary stand point, women Are exactly half of every leap the human race has made. That’s why I support human rights as a post to sex based or race based rights. I mean if I stepped into a cage with Rhonda Rousey my ass would get killed or if I sat down with Rosalind Franklin in a lab there is no question that I would be lost within minutes of any experiment we could conduct. #humanrights

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