Song of the Week

“I’ll Be Missing You”

By Sophia Kinne

Sometimes music fits into delightful little boxes- helpful for searching, explaining, and referencing. Compared to What? can be categorized by its covers, and Eye Know can be discussed in terms of sampling.

Some songs are just boggling, though, and it can be very hard to reference them in terms of musical mechanics such as these.

Take this week’s song, I’ll Be Missing You, by Puff Daddy, Faith Evans, and 112.

The song was released in 1997, soon after the death of The Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls), and is a tribute to the monumentally influential rapper. This is explicit in the lyrics, as Puff Daddy (now P. Diddy) specifically mentions “Notorious,” and references their time collaborating.

Listening to “I’ll Be Missing You,” the guitar and drums behind Puff Daddy’s verse may sound slightly familiar. You may also notice that the chorus, sung by Faith Evans, is almost exactly the same as Sting’s brooding melody in “Every Breath You Take”, by The Police, with perhaps one word- “missing.”

I’ll Be Missing You uses a good deal of Every Breath You Take, virtually all of the background instrumental, and most of the same words in the chorus.

But I’ll Be Missing You takes on a much different meaning than its source of inspiration.

The original version is thought of by most as a love song. The lyrics are associated with devotion, deep affection, and longing. You may have even heard it at weddings[1]

If you actually listen to the words, though, the meaning is much darker.

According to Songfacts.com, in an interview with New Musical Express in 1983, Sting refuted these gushy interpretations by saying,

“I think it’s a nasty little song, really rather evil. It’s about jealousy and surveillance and ownership.” 

Clearly, Sting doesn’t consider it to be a love song, but listeners chose to embrace it as such.

Regardless of the intended meaning of “Every Breath You Take,” and the meaning it took on by listeners, Puff Daddy’s version develops an even completely newer meaning through the lyrics and tone, even though the instrumentals are the same.

There’s a lot be said for the feelings and emotions that music creates, but I think it is also worth it to examine how the same music can be manipulated to create a variety of emotions and reactions. Lyrics paired with music are powerful.

 

[1] “Top 5 Misinterpreted Wedding Songs.” Wedding Blog. N.p., 22 June 2016. Web. 07 Feb. 2017.

[2] 


Larry Busacca / Ethan-Miller, Getty Images

Edited by Memory Apata

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