closer: english vocab from the chainsmokers

closer, the humongous (really big) hit performed by the chainsmokers and halsey is recognized as an anthem (motivational song for a specific group) for the millennial generation. millennials were born during the 1980s and early 1990s.

drew taggart and halsey at the 2016 mtv vmas

drew taggart of the chainsmokers and halsey getting closer at the 2016 mtv video music awards

closer‘s portrayal of millennials is the focus of the most recent vlog on the richyrocks youtube channel. click CC for subtitles in english or spanish.

the vid refers to millennials as entitled or believing they have a right to certain privileges. this is a common millennial stereotype.

specifically, the complaint at the beginning of the video is that millennials are unwilling to take a shit job for shit pay. shit in this context is what u would expect: a bad job that doesn’t pay well.  however at :47 in the phrase gotta analyze this shit, this shit is referring to the song and is neutral, NOT negative.

fun english practice :) richyrocks english on youtube

grow up (:20) means act like an adult.

the reference to merle haggard at :55 is ironic. haggard is an icon of unapologetic, hard-drinking honky tonk (old-school country) music. in contrast, the male vocal in closer admits to a drinking problem in the first verse of the song.

beat to death, from the female vocal, is a widely used expression but has a dark literal meaning: to hit a living creature until it dies. nobody is thinking about murder when they say it though. it’s just an expression. as explained in the video at 1:17 it means to repeat something over and over.

clever (smart) is used to define the chainsmokers’ wordplay (interesting word usage) at 1:55. the chorus juxtaposes (places close together to contrast or compare) two different ideas for the word breakbreaks your heart and broke-down car.

a woman and a man jumping rope
a jump rope chant. BAE-by hold me CLO-ser in the BACKseat of your RO-ver (

despite the clever wordplay, at first the chorus of the song turned me offi.e. made me not like it, because it sounds like kids chanting (rhytmically repeating) while  jumping rope or teasing (mocking) other kids on a playground.

the analysis of the lyric

the mattress that u stole from your roommate back in boulder

produces three tag questions.

boulder colorado & tucson arizona
boulder, colorado & tucson, arizona are the two cities that appear in the lyrics of closer

tag questions are comments that are converted into questions by adding an auxiliary verb and a pronoun at the end.

[it was] cool to steal your roommate’s mattress, wasn’t it?

wouldn’t wanna work and earn a mattress, would ya?

it’s got no consequences, does it?

the kid who got his mattress stolen (2:40) is an example of how get can be used in passive voice. who stole the mattress is not mentioned and stolen is the irregular past participle of steal.

get back together (3:10) means restart a relationship with an old partner.  millennials will recognize this phrasal verb from the title and chorus of this popular taylor swift song.

the final comment related to the guy who got his mattress stolen is at 3:25

u can keep the cum-stained mattress

a stain is a dirty mark that is difficult to remove or can’t be removed.  cum is semen. the message is that there is no need to return the mattress as it is probably now stained as a result of the sex described in the song.

a nasty mustard stain

he got mustard on his tie. that’s gonna leave a nasty stain.

afford means have enough money. it is often used with can/could and appears 3 times in the video between 3:30 and 4:00.

during the same stretch (piece) of video, pull over is used twice.  it means stop driving, go to the side of the road.

i support the millennial pledge to never get older.

the most recognized line from the song is we ain’t never gettin older. ain’t is a substitute for all negative forms of be, therefore ain’t never is in fact a double negative. both ain’t and double negatives are considered to be poor grammar, but are used all the time in popular music.

in reality, i DON’T really believe millennials are lazier than previous generations. i think it’s healthy to not want to take a shitty, underpaid job and unfortunate when circumstances require it.  will millennials be the first cyborg (robotically enhanced) generation, thus changing the definition of what it means to get old?  time will tell (we will only know in the future), but i’m not betting against it.

is this what the chainsmokers mean when they sing that they ain’t never getting older?

are there any concepts or vocabulary from the video not discussed here that u would like to talk about in more detail?  post them under leave a reply


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