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"The Maybe Man" on Spotify
"The Maybe Man" song-by-song review
Maybe Man

"I wish I was me, whoever that is/I could just be and not give a sh**/Hey, I'll be whatever makes you a fan/'Cause I don't know who the h*** I am"

As the first song on the album, "The Maybe Man" sets the scene for our unlikely hero, Jack, as he sings a string of dreams and doubts he has for life. Like AJR's previous albums, "The Maybe Man" acts as the overture — but not in the way fans were expecting. Unlike their previous albums, each stanza in The Maybe Man corresponds to a different song in the album:

Verse One: "Touchy Feely Fool," Verse Two: "Yes I'm a Mess," Verse Three: "Turning Out Pt. iii," Verse Four: "Steve's Going to London," Verse Five: "The Dumb Song," Verse Six: "Hole in the Bottom of My Brain," Verse Seven: "The DJ Is Crying For Help," Verse Eight: "I Won't," Verse Nine: "Inertia," Verse 10 and 11: "God is Really Real" and Verse 12: "2085."

In the outro, Jack belts the lyric, "Here I go again," signaling the cycle between life, death and self-discovery is starting once more for the listener and The Maybe Man. While I'm still unsure about the tone change over halfway through the piece, it still a very impactful way to start the album.

Touchy Feely Fool

"I'm screwed/But, hey, what can you do?/I'm a touchy feely fool/I would give anything to not give a sh** about you."

This song is a people pleaser's anthem. Despite the red flags, AJR encapsulates the inability to leave someone with obvious red flags and how it mentally affects an individual. I love when Jack screams his frustrations into the pre-chorus, but it switches back to the happy chorus because a people pleaser will continue please, of course. The more I listened to the song, the more I adapted to the ending, and now I very much enjoy this number.

Yes I'm A Mess

"And I took a job for just July/But feels like I might be here for life/Yeah, I’m in it now, I'm in it now/Could I start again somehow?"

"Yes, I'm A Mess" almost immerses the listener into a western movie set in 2023. From the whistling to the steady drumming, the listener voyages on through life while conscious they are making more of a mess of it. It's relatable and catchy, and you'll find yourself whistling along soon, too.

The Dumb Song

"When we go down/When kingdom come/Don't look at me, don't look at me/I'm just too dumb." 

While this song is called "The Dumb Song," it spotlights the painful feeling of perceiving yourself as "too dumb." With gang vocals inspired by the Beach Boys, horns and guitar give the song a facade of being lighthearted, but also give weight to the insecurity of stupidity.

Inertia

"I'm an object in motion, I've lost all emotion/My two legs are broken, but look at me dance/An object in motion, don't ask where I'm going/'Cause whеre I am goin' is right where I am." 

This is my personal favorite song of this entire album. Inertia focuses on someone who knows their life is messed up but doesn't try to do anything to change the trajectory. This song highlights the numbing experience of living a subpar life and the general feeling of being lost, which is something I can definitely relate to. Though I wish the drums and horns hit harder, it's the song I connect with the most, and I will continue listening to it on repeat.

Turning Out Pt. iii

"'Cause half the time I can't love right/And I'm half yours, and you're all mine."

Turning Out Pt.iii ends a beloved trilogy, written and lived by Ryan Met. After the previous songs question being ready for love and whether the feeling is actually love, this song illustrates the anxiety of wondering if you are on the right path with this person. While this song dances around dreams and doubts, it feels like the big hug Ryan needed and a reminder that love is little, quiet and worth waiting for.

Hole in the Bottom of My Brain

"Heads up, I'm sorry to be that guy/Heads up, I'm lookin' to just get by/Let's just say, let's just say we're fine." 

Inspired by the children's song, “There’s A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea,” this song illustrates the constant feeling of missing something. The dichotomy of a children's song melody while mentioning heavier topics of addiction and struggling mental health is an interesting choice. I didn't agree with it at first until I realized the interesting irony of song. While the lyrics are stronger than the melody in this piece, it deserves a listen.

The DJ is Crying for Help

"Oh, hired, hired, can I get hired?/Yeah, I fu**** up, but I did it my way/I'm tryin', tryin', I can start Friday/Gettin' a life's a little like dyin'."

This is another top pick of the entire album for me, ever since it came out as a single all the way from November 2022. As the song title suggests, the singer is crying for help. They don't know what to do or what step to take next. The violin after the chorus ties seamlessly alongside the gang vocals, and the melodies together sound similar to what a panic attack feels like. As someone who has had panic attacks before, it's almost comforting to find a song that illustrates the internal commotion. This is one of the songs where the powerful music production shines through.

I Won't

"So I do what you tell me to and do it to death/But I can't do this sh** again."

This song is meant get your head banging along with its simple drums and rhythm. With the fast-paced singing, it feels like all the thoughts in the singer's head are finally getting out and recognizing the emotions and ideas they had been holding back. It's a thought-train song — a great song to simply just vibe and sing along with.

Steve's Going to London

"While you try to find some meaning in your life before you die/Here's a bunch of random sh** to waste your time."

This song didn't sell me at first because, unlike the rest of the album, it didn't have the same emotional hold or bigger meaning. But that's part of the point — it serves as the album's brain-empty track: a song about writing song. Add in the gang vocals bringing the song together, and it is a fun listen overall.

God is Really Real

"God is really real when you really, really need Him/Karma just appears when you suddenly believe it." 

This is the most emotional song of the album. Whether you are religious or not, "God is Really Real" highlights the desparation one feels when a loved one is close to the end. You hear it in Jack's vocals, and you hear it in the rise of the guitars and choir. It's a beautiful track for anyone who has ever lost someone.

2085

"So if this is me, then I'll do my best/I'll take all the sh** so you'll never have to/You can be you, and I'll be the rest/Yeah, maybe that's who the h*** I am."

The ultimate conclusion to the album is incredible. While on the first listen it feels as though two songs are strung into one, it works in the context of "The Maybe Man" as a whole. He is able to reflect on what he learned — the value of connection, creativity and constant growth  — and say so in both a warm, guitar-driven piece and a larger-than-life ballad all tied in one song.

One of my favorite aspects of the song is after Jack repeats how "you" need to get better, he states, "I gotta get better; I'm all that I've got." To me, this alludes that there is a part of The Maybe Man in each of us; when we get lost in life, we all need to be reminded that we have to keep going at whatever pace is best for us.

Column: Beautiful boredom

A+person+sits+at+their+desk+feeling+very+bored%2C+unaware+that+they+are+about+to+come+up+with+a+great+invention+and+realization.+This+image+represents+the+power+of+boredom+to+enhance+our+creativity+and+mental+health%2C+especially+as+society+vies+for+our+time+and+attention+with+endless+distractions+and+entertainment.+%28Graphic+Illustration+by+Lila+Paschall%29
Photo credit: Lila Paschall
A person sits at their desk feeling very bored, unaware that they are about to come up with a great invention and realization. This image represents the power of boredom to enhance our creativity and mental health, especially as society vies for our time and attention with endless distractions and entertainment. (Graphic Illustration by Lila Paschall)

In the midst of a crowded restaurant, a young child sits at the dinner table with his family. The restaurant’s beautiful ceiling lamps coat the guests in warm yellow light, and the lively atmosphere is filled with the sound of voices and the clatter of utensils.

But as others enjoy their dinner, the young child slouches in front of an iPad propped up by a clunky blue case. The child’s parents had given him the iPad after hearing his repeated complaint: “But I’m booooored.”

Have you ever seen an iPad kid in the wild?

The term “iPad kids,” popularized by TikTok users in 2021, describes screen-addicted kids (typically from Generation Alpha) whose constant need for technological stimulation leaves them with poor interpersonal skills and a low attention span.

At times, I, too, feel like an iPad kid. Whenever I feel bored or apathetic, I find myself reaching for my phone with no real purpose and finding an app to keep myself occupied. After a while, I may even feel bored as I eat lunch or dinner.

For so long, I viewed boredom as something negative — a wasteful feeling in my day. The time I could’ve spent having fun. Even a sign that my life was too boring.

I have now begun to believe in its power.

Today’s society convinces people to see boredom as unproductive and lazy. Between the “go-go-go” workaholic mentality that seeped its way into the American psyche and the abundance of distractions in all areas, we have failed to understand the importance of boredom to our minds. Actually, I feel boredom’s value increases the longer we live in a modern society where everything competes for our time and attention.

So, what are the benefits of feeling bored?

Firstly, a certain level of boredom can elevate our creativity. According to a Harvard Business Review article by David Burkus, an organizational psychologist and best-selling author, boredom provides us with an opportunity for reflection. He specifically cites a 2018 study where people forced to do boring tasks came up with more creative ways of thinking, as these tedious activities had allowed their minds to roam. As a Psychology Today article puts it, the “absence of external stimulation” motivates us to “use our imagination and think in different ways.”

In moderation, boredom also has positive effects on our mental health. Stepping away from the constant stream of information and entertainment gives our minds a special opportunity to decompress and conserve attention. Embracing boredom allows us to self-reflect, which can be quite beneficial to our mental well-being, as it promotes emotional regulation and inspires personal growth.

Not only can boredom enhance our creativity and boost our mental health, but it can also (ironically!) make us less fundamentally bored in the future. As described by Abigail Fagan, the author of a Psychology Today article on boredom, people hope to escape from boredom by seeking temporary solutions of distraction. However, Fagan affirms that, “these short-term solutions only serve to strengthen the grip of boredom.”

In other words, using fast remedies to subdue boredom often becomes similar to an addiction, where we need more and more external entertainment to combat the boredom we feel — this ultimately leads to experiencing more, and possibly deeper, boredom later in our lives.

I agree. When we use outside sources of stimulation — such as screens in the case of iPad Kids — the tracks of thinking are created for us. But without that external stimulus, we can use our creativity and imagination to come up with our own train of thought. Some of the greatest ideas and inventions have come from this feeling. For instance, Albert Einstein spent “a year loafing aimlessly” during which he planted the seeds of his many great ideas that changed society’s understanding of gravity, space and time.

Ultimately, I believe that embracing boredom strengthens our minds and combats a deeper sense of chronic boredom that plagues many people in our current society.

The next time you feel bored and want to circumvent this “negative” emotion, I urge you to put aside the distractions and let your mind wander. Try getting lost in your thoughts, even daydreaming. When you feel like reaching for your phone, especially when you are with other people and don’t have things to talk about, embrace the silence or begin a conversation.

And, most importantly, don’t be an iPad kid.

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About the Contributor
Lila Paschall
Lila Paschall, Columnist
Lila Paschall joined the Oracle as a columnist in 2023. From her passion for psychology to her experiences as a Teen Line volunteer, Lila wrote columns on topics surrounding mental health and mental health awareness. She graduated in 2024.

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