“You” by James Arthur (ft. Travis Barker)
James Arthur’s “You” can interpreted from a number of different perspectives. For instance, it may be meant to address the strong sense of political correctness and pressure to conform which currently dominates the media landscape. Or it can be addressing the hate media personalities are commonly subject to via the likes of internet trolls in the modern world.
Either way, there is a “they”, and there is the titular “you”. And “they” are the ones who abuse “you”. And the way they do so is via the utilization of fear mongering, intimidation and insults, i.e. “throwing sticks and stones”.
So basically, the narrators are here to big up the addressee (i.e. “you”) for persevering in the face of such negativity. And what they specifically seem to be congratulating him or her for is being able to retain their individuality despite the aforementioned challenges. Moreover, “you” has actually been able to prosper, as in realize a higher state of being, even though he or she was faced with harrowing circumstances (i.e. “the wilderness”). And being that they use the metaphor of “a butterfly” to illustrate this point, the insinuation is that by ‘looking for his own purpose’ as a result of being persecuted, “you” has been able to bring forth latent attributes which before he or she couldn’t manifest.
The track can still be looked at from an additional viewpoint based on the bridge. Here the singer empathizes with “you” directly by detailing some of the challenges he personally went through, i.e. being a “drug” user and “thief”. And the implication is that, by being able to bring about his own personal transformation from such an undesirable state, the singer is now qualified to support others (i.e. “you”) overcome similar circumstances. Indeed he seems to perceive it as his calling to actually do so.
So once again, there are various dimensions to this seemingly unassuming song. But basically, the message boils down to the artists encouraging the listener to stand strong in the midst of a variety of issues from oppression to bullying to drug addiction) he/she may face in the modern world.
Quick Facts about “You”
James Arthur wrote this song along with the producers, Red Triangle (Rick Parkhouse and George Tizzard). His featured artist, Travis Barker of Blink-182 fame, is also a co-writer of this song.
This is the first time James Arthur (UK) and Travis Barker (US) have collaborated.
“You” is actually the title track from James Arthur’s third album. The song was released by Columbia Records and Sony Music Entertainment Germany as the fifth single from that project on 11 October 2019.
Did James Arthur release “You” as a single?
Yes. This is actually the sixth single he released from the aforementioned album. The first five singles from the album are as follows: