When the Ancient Greeks pretended to be larger than life heroes like Oedipus and Medea in plays, the actors hid their faces behind a mask. A mask which concealed their true identity and expression, covering these with somebody else’s face, allowing only their voices to be heard. This is the mask Gypsy & The Cat are desperate to put on in their song “I Just Wanna Be Somebody Else.” Singing about the yearning for change as a result of severe heartbreak, they touch upon both the physical and emotional aspects of wanting to walk in someone else’s shoes, juxtaposing their dark lyrics with a gleeful tune you can bob your head to without realising the severity of the words being sung.
Listen: “I Just Wanna Be Somebody Else” – Gypsy & The Cat
The song starts off describing the singer’s emotional state, wanting to “be someone new and fade away,” hopefully deleting the memories of the pain he’s been through along with his true self’s disappearance. His desire for change is such that he’s willing to trade his brain and heart, a person’s two most vital organs. This is when Gypsy & The Cat really deal with the cornerstones of human experience in the song, showing the outcome of a battle between head and heart in which neither side has won and both have become dispensable. Also, he appears willing to throw away his brain and heart because his heartbreaker is “doing fine without” them – signalling the singer’s selflessness and dependence on the person he used to have a relationship with, since when something is not necessary to his former lover, it is deemed unnecessary to him as well. In this case, his identity and life are what he is throwing away. That is the extent of the pain the singer is going through. He even signals at an end which may be tragic when, further on in the song, he asks his heartbreaker: “Can you ever get to me before the end, before the end?”
There’s a darkness in my room
Guess I could be someone new and fade away, fade away
Change my brain and take my heart out
Guess you’re doing fine without it
But as everything in life, the change Gypsy & The Cat sing about and want so badly also brings about positivity to the singer’s life. When referring to the physical changes of becoming somebody else, the singer says he wants to “Paint [his] face in colour” – which shows the listener he is about to bring joy into his life, ridding himself of a black and white and lifeless past and moving on to the fascinating world of happiness and colour. While his mind is aching, his face is shining.
Wanna paint my face in colour
Gonna hide away the one you used to know
I just wanna be somebody else
The driving force behind his sudden thirst for a change of personality is, apparently, wanting to evolve from the person he was in his former relationship to a better version of that, becoming somebody else but not entirely. Considering how toxic and intense this relationship is hinted to have been, and how dependent the singer seemed to be on his ex-lover, becoming somebody else could only mean a positive evolution into someone who has matured, grown, and learned from pain. Now the main characteristic which allows us to hope for a better future for the singer is the upbeat, catchy melody that dominates the song – it challenges you not to smile or sing along or even dance slightly. There’s a naive element to it even, as if it conveys the kind of bliss which is impossible to find after going through such emotional turmoil.
And that is the beauty of “I Just Wanna Be Somebody Else” – it explores the paradox of human experience, where situations can simultaneously be terribly sad but also uplifting, and the same episode can have different effects on your physical and mental self. It provides no answer to the eternal dilemma of head versus heart while showing you that there may be no winner after all. It makes you weep and dance and think and sing. This seems like huge ground to cover in only three minutes, but Gypsy & The Cat do so without being shallow or leaving something to be desired: they accurately tap into the wish everyone has had at least once in their lives of being someone else, combine it with the universal language of love and heartbreak, sprinkle a little bit of hope on top, and the end product is a smart and relatable tune most people are bound to enjoy.
Watch: “I Just Wanna Be Somebody Else” – Gypsy & The Cat