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Welcome to the Pop Song Professor! My name's Clifford, and I explain song lyrics so that you can know what your artists are saying and can enjoy your music more. 

What does "Thousand Eyes" by Of Monsters and Men mean?

What does "Thousand Eyes" by Of Monsters and Men mean?

Of Monsters and Men's new album Beneath the Skin is out, and the album's ninth track "Thousand Eyes" stays true to what seems to be the album's continuing theme-an alliance of humanity to the powers of nature. In "Thousand Eyes," the band is trying to pull the audience into a feeling of potential power and intensity. While the song does have a specific central idea, its true power is as an atmospheric piece that conveys strong emotion. 

The track begins with the sound of trickling water. That combined with Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir's eerie and slow singing, the song begins very peacefully. But soon, the lyrics move past wondering naiveté, and the music increases in intensity until at the end everything falls away and Nanna accepts her own deep and powerful true self.

OMAM in Concert
OMAM in Concert

"Thousand Eyes" Lyrics Meaning

"Thousand Eyes" is a coming-of-age or coming-into-yourself story. The narrator doesn't want to be who she is supposed to be because it's scary, but under intense pressure she finally acquiesces and accepts her "destiny." The song is beautiful and almost sad, reminding listeners of difficult times they've had to face in order to survive or to help others.

Nanna starts singing by repeating "Undo this storm" three times. The storm is a common image in Beneath the Skin; it also shows up in "I of the Storm." When it appears, Of Monsters and Men seem to be referring to intense pressure on the narrator or a feeling of conflict in life-something the narrator must stand up inside of and be stronger than. Interestingly, by the end of "Thousand Eyes," Nanna actually becomes the storm.

After Nanna begs for the storm to be undone, she wants to be able to "wait" for things to normalize and to return to the way they were. She continues, "I can't control / Withering wonders / Flowers that lose their shape." She's not in power and can only wait-around her, the things she thought were beautiful are being destroyed and wilting. She needs relief.

Of Monster and Men 

Of Monster and Men 

In the chorus, she sings, "I lie awake / And watch it all / It feels like thousand eyes." The observing is going two ways here. Nanna is watching the word fall apart around her, but she also feels like she's being watched. The storm seems to have been caused by something that she did, and now the world wants to know how she'll act. She feels intense pressure and as if she has no privacy to make her decision. Everyone will know what she does.

Pressed to make a decision, Nanna has to choose to not be passive. She decides that she will utilize the strength within herself to bear up under the difficulty. She sings, "I'll be the calm / I will be quiet." While the world is storming around her, she will be self-controlled and be the calm for others. Even if she's "[s]tripped to the bone," she won't struggle-she will accept her destiny: "I wait."

Beneath the Skin Album Cover Art
Beneath the Skin Album Cover Art

She adds to this: "No, I'll be a stone / I'll be the hunter." Rocks are strong and difficult to break; nothing's quieter than a stone sitting still. She wants that power and quiet strength. But she also wants to be a hunter. She doesn't want to be the prey any longer; she's tired of being chased and wants to chase the fear that's hunting her. By doing so, she may be able to help others; she can become "[a] tower that casts a shade" for and protects those who need it.

The next minute and a half of the song is an instrumental bridge that slowly rises in intensity and then falls away for Nanna to sing, "I am the storm," three times and, "So wait," once. More than being calm in the storm and enduring it, she has taken on the power of the storm and accepted the abilities and responsibilities that she needs to survive. And instead of her waiting, she commands others, "So wait," for her to make her move. She's accepted who she is and has gained power from that identity, making her a force not to be underestimated.

The Famous Person Theory

Perhaps this song is about the process of becoming famous. The band was little known in Iceland, but became well known. Gaining all of that popularity was probably overwhelming at first and the world wanting them to make a sequel to their first album could have felt like a storm.

But they gained power from within themselves and released Beneath the Skin against difficult odds. The album and the lines "I am the storm / So wait" could be their challenge to the rest of the world: "We are strong, and we can write more and better music!"

Thoughts?

Of Monsters and Men on Tour
Of Monsters and Men on Tour

Lyrics

Because lyrics for this song were incorrect on one website I visited, I've included correct ones from Genius.com here:

[Verse 1] Undo this storm Undo this storm Undo this storm And wait I can't control Withering wonders Flowers that lose their shape

[Chorus x2] I lie awake And watch it all It feels like thousand eyes

I'll be the calm I will be quiet Stripped to the bone I wait No, I'll be a stone I'll be the hunter A tower that casts a shade

[Chorus x3]

[Bridge Instrumental]

I am the storm I am the storm I am the storm So wait

Screen Shot of Released Album
Screen Shot of Released Album

What did you think of "Thousand Eyes" by Of Monsters and Men? Do you ever feel like Nanna? Let me know what you think of the song and the meaning in the comments. Thanks for reading!

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