Meaning of “Bug Like an Angel” by Mitski

“Bug Like an Angel”, which indie label Dead Oceans introduced to the marketplace on 26 July 2023, is the lead single from “The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We”, Mitski’s seventh studio album. This song, which was written by the songstress and produced by Patrick Hyland, also acts as the opening track to the LP.  And the director of its music video is Noel Paul.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Mitski's Bug Like an Angel at
Bug Like an Angel

Lyrics of “Bug Like an Angel”

“Bug Like an Angel” reads like one of those cases where it would perhaps be best to let listeners come to their own respective conclusions in terms of what Mitski is singing about. It is apparent that this piece is, to some notable degree, philosophical with religious undertones. For example, the titular metaphor can be interpreted as falling into both of those categories.

The Verses

At the beginning of the first verse, the vocalist notes that “there’s a bug like an angel”, which has found itself “stuck to the bottom of (her) glass”. Of further, arguably more-significant note is the implication that said glass is holding an alcoholic beverage. 

But what exactly that observation concerning the insect is meant to point to is not clear. We may even argue that it might be literal, i.e. said bug perhaps taking on the shape of how Mitski envisions angels as it is stuck to the glass. 

But later on she proceeds to reference other spiritual entities, i.e. “the devil” and “God”, which may indicate that the “angel” is also meant to be taking more along those lines.

The second verse centers on the vocalist advising listeners not to make a certain “amateur mistake”. That would be, as implied, breaking promises. And Mitski suggests that this is something she learned from experience, that when a person breaks promises, they then turn around and “break you right back”. 

And we will presume what she is referring to in that regard is something along the lines of karma.

So it’s really the third verse which opens this song up for interpretation. This is when Mitski really drops a philosophical/religious musing in noting that “the wrath of the devil was also given him by God”. These days, popular singers referencing such entities in song has become the norm. But this is one of the more challenging instances in trying to figure of what the vocalist at hand is actually trying to get at.

A Theory

Here is one theory that may be plausible. What we can take away from the first verse, if nothing else, is that the vocalist is a drinker. And in the second she establishes regret for not being able to keep promises. 

Then in the third, Mitski mentions being “bent over, wishing it was over”, which sounds like she may have gotten so drunk that now she’s sick. The singer then reiterates the notion that she has issues ‘keeping vows’ and then finally gets to that line about God and the devil.

So perhaps what Mitski is saying is that she’s willing to take her punishments, such as suffering from hangovers and lingering feelings of guilt, as a learning experience. In other words, those sufferations would be “the wrath of the devil”. 

And her acknowledging that they were “given him by God” implies that she accepts the reality that if she is unable to discipline herself, then she must contend with the resultant penalties.

So in the grand scheme of things, the “bug like an angel”, though keeping within the religious/spiritual sub-motif of the lyrics, may just be just an observation, i.e. the opening line of the song used as its title and not holding much significance beyond that. 

Or put more simply, what we seem to be dealing with here is a singer who regrets having developed what reads like a social dependency on alcohol (i.e. the last line of the first verse).  Or at least that’s one way of trying to make sense out of all that’s being relayed here.

“There’s a bug like an angel
Stuck to the bottom
Of my glass, with a little bit left
As I got older
I learned I’m a drinker
Sometimes a drink feels like family

2 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    ooh nice analysis here. keep up the good work

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi im not sure if I read correctly but I was wondering if that part where she was talking abt God and the devil was it a good thing or bad ……………………

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