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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: Seriously, Congress? TikTok?

A+stick+figure%E2%80%94representing+many+American+citizens%E2%80%94is+questioning+%E2%80%9CWhy+TikTok%3F%E2%80%9D%2C+failing+to+understand+why+this+topic+is+at+the+forefront+of+Congress%E2%80%99s+priorities.+The+reasoning+behind+this+expedited+bill+has+had+little+justification%2C+especially+when+considering+the+other+issues+the+U.S.+is+facing.+%28Graphic+Illustration+by+Alexis+David%29
A stick figure—representing many American citizens—is questioning “Why TikTok?”, failing to understand why this topic is at the forefront of Congress’s priorities. The reasoning behind this expedited bill has had little justification, especially when considering the other issues the U.S. is facing. (Graphic Illustration by Alexis David)

They’ve done it.

The members of the United States Congress have finally fulfilled their destinies. They’ve banned the poison infecting American children’s brains. They’ve slain the dragon terrorizing the youth.

They banned TikTok.

If you can’t already tell, I’m being extremely sarcastic. While I am sad I will soon be unable to open my columns talking about a TikTok video I saw that inspired a new train of thought, a.k.a. my favorite way to open my columns (if you haven’t yet noticed), I’m also incredibly frustrated by what Congress has thus presented as their priorities. 

If you don’t know what this bill is, let me explain it to you.

President Joe Biden signed and passed a bill on April 24 that gives the Chinese parent company of TikTok, ByteDance, 270 days to sell TikTok to a new, preferably American owner. If not, the app will be banned in the United States. 

The bill is part of a larger foreign policy package that includes sending foreign aid to Israel and Ukraine. You may be wondering why and how a social media app ban ended up in a foreign aid package. Honestly, so am I. Congress cited concerns over China’s use of American data to covertly influence U.S. public opinion as the reason for the ban. They wrapped it up in a foreign aid package to make the bill more likely to pass both houses. 

This bill is simply ridiculous for three primary reasons.

Firstly, there are many bigger, more pressing problems afflicting this country. With student protests surrounding the war in Israel and Gaza breaking out across college campuses nationwide, more abortion bans passing by the month and the one-year inflation outlook jumping up to 3.5%, the highest level since November 2023 according to CNBC, it seems like Congress has, metaphorically speaking, bigger fish to fry than battling a social media app, regardless of foreign policy considerations.

Secondly, Biden’s voter base has largely been comprised of Gen Z and Millennials, particularly in the 2020 presidential election, where both generations were key to Biden’s victory. Coincidentally, the young are also the group with the largest TikTok presence, with two-thirds of the app’s user base being comprised of people aged 18-34. If Biden wants any chance of winning his reelection campaign in 2024, he needs to keep the young on his side, and this is made even more unlikely by his ban on TikTok.

Thirdly, social media is a good launching point to educate the youth. Many prominent news organizations have begun using TikTok to highlight important stories in short-form content. While most people will tell you not to get your news from social media, and I do agree with them, social media gives stories a platform that don’t always make it to the front page of the newspaper. Additionally, social media engages young people politically in a way few other avenues do or have.

As of September 2023, public trust in the government was near a 70-year low, according to a Pew Research Center study. With many young people expressing their activism, learning about politics and engaging in political discussions on social media, this new ban risks lowering the institution’s public trust even more. The youth may start questioning why the U.S. government wants to shut down this avenue for expression and why Congress seems to actively want to silence young political voices.

TikTok has recently sued the U.S. government in an attempt to block the ban. Let’s all hope this ban doesn’t go through, as it would place serious restrictions on a platform that has done a lot for increasing the political engagement of the youth and promoting free speech.

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About the Contributor
Alexis David
Alexis David, Columnist
Alexis David joined The Oracle in 2021 as a staff reporter and returned in 2023 as a columnist. Her column centered around politics, social justice and identity. Alexis was an avid member of the theater community, participating in both upper school shows and stage managing for the middle school productions, as well as being a member of the "Drama Queens". In addition to theater, Alexis was a co-chair of the Artemis Center and a PAWS leader. She graduated in 2024.

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