“SOS” by James Arthur
SOS, as you’re likely already aware, is a well-known distress signal derived from the maritime usage of Morse code. Based on the Wikipedia page describing its history, as originated it isn’t an acronym. However, some people have applied certain phrases to it nonetheless, with one of them being “save our souls”. And that is how James Arthur utilizes it in this song, to rather point to the phrase “save my soul”. Or put more bluntly, he’s in desperate need of some type of intervention in his life.
Now who he is relaying this message to and what it is exactly he needs saving from is a matter of interpretation. Perhaps the easiest explanation would be that he’s singing to a romantic interest.
And what he is desiring is to be saved from is an unfulfilling life, where he is “lost” amongst the wandering, aimless masses of Sin City itself. Indeed just the fact that James mentions “Las Vegas”, out of all the cities he could have referenced, gives this song an added dimension – a Weeknd-esque quality, if you will.
And whereas it may be easy to reasonably conclude, based on the terminology used, that the addressee is a romantic interest, let it also be known that there’s no specific lyrics pointing to such a notion.
So once again we are faced with a pop song, which may potentially be romantic in nature, that is actually premised on a religious type of understanding. The way “save my soul” is presented in the narrative doesn’t give the impression that the vocalist’s physical life is in imminent danger, as “SOS” is traditionally utilized. Rather, all lyrics considered, it gives the impression that his life has no distinct direction, and in the meantime he is caught up in a cycle of unfulfilling or perhaps even self-destructive behavior.
So that is why now, he is “forever in debt to” the addressee. It doesn’t appear that this individual has actually pulled him out of the aforementioned cycle. But he or she has proven inspiring enough, in the very least, to give the vocalist hope.
So now, he is calling on this person to go the extra mile and actually ‘save his soul tonight’. And most generally put, this all sounds like the musings of someone who has been devoid of true love but now for the first time in his life has met someone who he feels can effectively give it to him.
Facts about “SOS”
This song is actually a promotional single from “It’ll All Make Sense in the End”, i.e. James Arthur’s fourth studio album.
“SOS” was released by Columbia Records on 22 October 2021.
This track was co-written and co-produced by a pair of musicians, George Tizzard and Rick Parkhouse, who as a unit are known as Red Triangle. James Arthur also acted as a writer, as did James Bell. And the additional producer is Matt Rad.
The music video to this track has two directors, KC Locke, a tenured filmographer from London, as well as James Arthur himself. And according to the latter, “SOS” marks the first video he’s ever directed.
James has proclaimed that this is ‘one of his favorite tracks’ from “It’ll All Make Sense in the End”.