Recovery in the Media: #66. Imagine Dragons

This band might have dark songs, but their honesty and glimmer of hope make the music powerful.

This band might have dark songs, but their honesty and glimmer of hope make the music powerful.

66. Selected Imagine Dragons songs

Rock music usually overwhelms me. Heavy beats and screaming lyrics were what I associated with this genre. However, as I have been exposed to more types of music, my tastes have begun to broaden. The first song that I heard by Imagine Dragons was “Radioactive.” The somber lyrics and apocalyptic feel bewildered me, but something about the eerie tone transfixed me. As I have listened to more songs by this band, I have found that the morbid nature of their lyrics actually has some hope hidden beneath them despite the darkness in our world. Likewise, depression can cause one to see things in a grim light, yet hope remains for those of us who struggle with mental illness.This is one of the reasons that I chose them for Media Monday.

Selected Songs:

    • “Monster” from their Smoke + Mirrors album
    • “Demons” from their Night Visions album
    • “I Bet My Life” from their Smoke + Mirrors album
    • “It’s Time” from their Night Visions album
    • “On Top of the World” from their Night Visions album

Recovery Pluses: First of all, “Monster” speaks about a child who wants to fit in with peers but cannot. Honestly being himself, he asks the listener if knowing who he truly was would be too scary. He admits to having a monster inside of him that wants to grow but longs to cling to the candle that guides him. Right away, this song is more honest than many people are. We all can let this monster inside take control instead of taking the harder path of light and love. That is the message that this song (and much of the album) seems to send.

We all have darkness and parts of ourselves that we are ashamed to show others. “Demons” demonstrates that wonderfully. Although the singer wants to help someone, he realizes his own troubles. Fear of hurting the one that he loves causes him to tell that person to stay away and not be mistaken. We should not hate ourselves, but knowing our struggles and admitting them is important. All of us make horrible mistakes and hurt others. Luckily, some hope drifts into this song as the singer believes someone can “show [him] how” to escape the inner demons. That is all rather dark, perhaps, but real life and depression certainly can go to level of despair.

Being willing to give up parts of your life for someone else is important for forming friendships. This is needed both by those in recovery and their support people. Likewise, we need to trust that others will be able and willing to sacrifice their time and efforts for us. “I Bet My Life” illustrates this deep bond. Sometimes we desert people, as the character in the song does. However, we can choose to return (like the singer) and ask for forgiveness. We all do need those people who we can bet our lives on because of their loyalty and love.

The song “It’s Time” is just as ambiguous in meaning as many of the other songs by Imagine Dragons. Many different interpretations have been given for the lyrics such as “This road never looked so lonely/This house doesn’t burn down slowly/To ashes, to ashes” and “It’s time to begin, isn’t it?/I get a little bit bigger but then I’ll admit/I’m just the same as I was.” Whatever the precise meaning, this piece shows the importance of staying true to yourself in rough times. The road to success and peace is filled with dangers and darkness (as the video also portrays). However, as showed in the music video, light peers through in the end.

Finally, “On Top of the World” is a surprisingly upbeat song filled with joy and optimism. The person singing states that they are “on top of the world” and do not intend to come down in spirits. Having a bouncy, joyful tune with the somber ones is pleasant. Also, there is a great message still about loving the people around you instead of taking them for granted.

Cautions: Several of the songs have words that might be considered mild swear words but are more likely simply words used in the correct context. Also the dark atmosphere of the songs and music videos is a bit frightening or disheartening at times. Thus, their music is probably best for preteens and older.

While researching this band and its songs, I found myself saddened but also hopeful. Their music is raw and deep as well as confusing. In an age when most people talk about the good that people can do, this songs point to the darkness all of us have inside while still allowing some room for hope. In the end, this attitude leaves me feeling more optimistic if less giddy about the future. Life is a struggle with many dark paths, but light still shines as we battle our way to recovery and a better life.

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3 thoughts on “Recovery in the Media: #66. Imagine Dragons

  1. 80smetalman says:

    Glad that you are expanding your musical horizons. I have always been a metalhead and I have found lyrics in songs that certainly spoke to me. It has given me great joy and never ever had me thinking about committing suicide or shooting up a school.

    • The more that I meet people, the more that I begin to enjoy more types of music. There is nothing wrong with a genre in and of itself. All can have good or bad songs. 🙂

      • 80smetalman says:

        So true. Videos can have a similar effect. I remember one by Elton John where the song wouldn’t have been too bad but the video brought back some painful memories. I used to walk out of the room when it got played on MTV.

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