Another Unappealing Song

from by Use Your Voice

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about

The title of this song is derived from a line in the bridge, "they say we lack 'universal appeal.'" This is a reference to what some call the "bamboo ceiling," often used in the context of reduced opportunities in the media for APA individuals. The lyrics are from my own experiences and feelings as an Asian American musician trying to make a living by making art, even though mainstream American culture generally excludes people in my community from accessing those opportunities. It was written to inspire people like me or those in other marginalized communities to keep persevering despite obstacles in the way of success. The lines, "I can't look back to yesterday" and, "I can't afford for things to stay this way" express an appreciation for the progress American culture and the entertainment industry has made since years past, but recognize that there is still work to be done before equal opportunity is in reach. The second verse references the Trump presidency, and how his election has fundamentally changed the American zeitgeist allowing for racism to be expressed more openly. It also references Bruce Lee with the quote, "be like water," Lee being seen as a symbol for the underdog defeating the forces of imperialism. The line, "no need to swim when you be the wave" suggests that APA musicians and other artists should support each other rather than simply relying on mainstream audiences and industry titans to recognize them.

lyrics

I know I'll make it if I can take it
I've got the feeling I can't shake it
So many obstacles are in my way
In many cases it's pretty racist
I'm drowning in a sea of faces
It's hard to stand out when they think you're all the same

Tell me to let it be
It's not enough for me

I can't look back to yesterday
I can't afford for things to stay this way
Just eating and breathing
It's hard to keep singing
Just breathe it in
(This is destiny calling)

Now the country's humpty dumpty's
Building walls as if he's drunk(y)
More bridges burn with every passing day
"Be like water" said the father
To his spiritual sons and daughters
No need to swim when you can be the wave

Tell me to let it be
It's not enough for me

I can't look back to yesterday
I can't afford for things to stay this way
Just eating and breathing
It's hard to keep singing
Just breathe it in
(This is destiny calling)

(Jump up jump up)
Once more with feeling
(Jump up jump up)
Break through the ceiling

They say we lack "universal appeal"
Both fingers plugged in their ears
We'll make them question what they think is real
And I refuse to keep on (waiting for change this year)

Tell me to let it be
It's not enough for me

I can't look back to yesterday
I can't afford for things to stay this way
Just eating and breathing
It's hard to keep singing
Just breathe it in
(This is destiny calling)

No I can't look back to yesterday
I can't afford for things to stay this way
Just eating and breathing
It's hard to keep singing
Just breathe it in
(This is destiny calling)

credits

from Use Your Voice - EP, released April 28, 2017
Lead vocals: Matt Nguyen-Ngo
Guitars: John I. Kittle
Bass: Ethan Voytko
Gang vocals: Matt Nguyen-Ngo, John I. Kittle, Malerie Gamblin
Programming: Matt Nguyen-Ngo

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about

Use Your Voice Williamsburg, Virginia

Use Your Voice is the band that founder Matt Nguyen-Ngo put together to create his senior project EP for Asian Pacific Islander American Studies at the College of William & Mary. It is made up of members from his previous bands, Say Your Name and Wind for Wings.

Members:
Matt Nguyen-Ngo
John I. Kittle
Will Penix
Ethan Voytko
... more

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