Pio Grooves: A column tapping into the music vein of LC

Illustration by Fiona Kuzmack

By Iris Shanks /// Staff Writer

The Pio: Sina Heng(‘17)
The Groove: “You&I” by John Legend

I have a confession: I hate love songs. They are cheesy. But, as with most things, there are exceptions like the music of John Legend, whose tender lyrics and emotionally charged vocals really do tug at my heartstrings.

I am not alone in thinking this: Sina Heng, (’17) a biology major from Cambodia, has been listening to lots of Legend lately. She discovered his music when a friend showed her one of his videos on YouTube:

“I liked it, so I started watching his other videos. I listen to him when I want to be calm–It has nothing to do with being sad or happy. It’s just his energy.” This particularly applies to Sina’s current favorite of Legend’s, “You & I (Nobody in the World),” off of his 2013 album “Love in the Future.”

Although at its core “You & I” is a love song, the music video tells a more complex story: It features several women of different shapes, sizes, ages and stories as they examine themselves in an unseen mirror. A little girl brushes her teeth; another anxiously sits through getting her ears pierced. One woman stumbles into the bathroom at a party and looks into the camera with tears in her eyes; one examines her pregnant belly; one takes off her bra to reveal mastectomy scars.

Laverne Cox makes an appearance too, taking off her makeup and looking tired yet content. Each portrait is charged with a narrative that is at once intensely intimate and, for some more than others, incredibly relatable. A behind-the-scenes video features some of these women on set talking about themselves and their own self-images. Some laugh, some cry, some don’t know what to make of themselves. I’ll be honest–I wept openly in Watzek watching the two videos over and over.

John Legend’s music has a tendency to inspire such emotions, but it can get tiring, according to Sina. “There’s a certain point where I don’t want to listen him anymore… I have to put him to sleep.”

He won’t be going to sleep on his own very soon though, and this reality keeps Sina from delving too deeply into his older albums:

“He’s still got new stuff coming out, so I figure I should keep moving.” Legend has released four albums since 2004 and is currently touring the world for “Love in the Future.”

Even more impressive are his nine Grammy Awards, two NAACP Image Awards, three Soul Train Music Awards, a BET Award and a MOBO Award. Factor in his collaborations with The Roots, Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, and Kanye and you’ve got one hell of a 10-year career.

Don’t get me wrong–I still hate love songs. So many are just empty words and live in the world of cliché and violent infatuation, but when John Legend comes on my cynicism is wiped away. So, light some candles (not in the dorms), put on some Legend and keep groovin’, Pios.

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