The Irony of ‘Promise Me’ by Cheat Codes and Demi Lovato

I’m a huge fan of pop music, and as it goes, I usually have a favorite song on my playlist that I bump to the top and repeatedly listen to for about 2 to 3 weeks until something else more ear-candyish comes along. And for the last few weeks, my favorite song has been Promise Me by Cheat Codes feat. Demi Lovato.

Like most people, I appreciate the sound of a radio hit first. If a song is catchy, I’ll want to hear it again and again.

But where I stray from the masses is after some repeat listens. I begin to pay attention to the lyrics and really try to figure out what the artist or artists might be saying in their song. I loved the cleverness of Promise Me because it’s kind of a twist on the popular cliche, “Never say never.” The main line of the chorus is “Promise me no promises,” and that’s interesting—the entire point of the song cancels itself out. What I mean is that it’s a self-defeating statement because you can’t make someone promise you that they won’t make you any promises. Cheat Codes and Lovato obviously understand this irony, and it gives the song a layer of depth unlike other popular tunes that might on the radio nowadays.

It’s beautiful to me that there’s complexity in what is often referred to as “bubblegum pop music radio” because it tells me that people are actually thinking when they create something, instead of just mindlessly churning out garbage lyrics layered over catchy music. Promise Me is both catchy and layered, and after two weeks of listening, it made me wonder something about our culture. My guess was that most people can understand the irony behind the statement, “Promise me no promises,” but does anyone ever take the time to extend that layered thinking to other, more important topics of thought?

For example, have you ever heard anyone say, “There is no such thing as absolute truth” or “Everything in life is relative”? I certainly have. I’ve been in a number of conversations where someone has dropped a phrase like that in the context of talking about God or spirituality, and subsequently thought to myself, Hmm, that doesn’t make any sense.

How can someone in good thought state that they absolutely believe there is no absolute truth? Or how can someone concretely believe that nothing is concrete (relative)? Statements like those are self-defeating, much like “Promise me no promises.” The general public seems to understand and appreciate the irony when the medium is lyrical within the context of music, so it stands to reason that they should comprehend and appreciate the irony of other self-defeating statements like the ones I’ve mentioned.

Rational thought is important, and we all must give ample consideration to the words we say, especially when it comes to matters of God, culture, life, and eternity. If we fail to think about what we’re actually saying and don’t follow our statements to their logical conclusions, we fail to grasp maturity, growth, advancement, and more importantly, truth.

Cheat Codes and Demi Lovato get it. I hope we can too.

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