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Released: 2019

Features: Julia Michaels

“Peer Pressure” is a sultry, emotional jam by James Bay, featuring Julia Michaels. It’s a masterclass on the struggle and surrender to desire, exuding the charged atmosphere of a romance that’s as intoxicating as it is disorienting.

The song begins with a vivid image: “Seven texts, 2AM / Halfway dressed, all saying, ‘Call me up’ / You can’t sleep, you’re testing me.” This paints a picture of a late-night longing, full of urgency and a tender recklessness. The lyrics, “Halfway dressed, all saying, ‘Call me up’,” use colloquial language to depict the unfiltered, raw craving that’s kept under wraps by day, and unraveled after sunset.

In the chorus, the line, “Put your hands on my body / Just like you think you know me,” is tied to the motif of physicality that threads through the song. The lyrics articulate an eagerness for intimacy, underpinned by the verse, “I don’t usually give in to peer pressure / But I’ll give in to yours.” Here, Bay subverts the concept of “peer pressure,” typically associated with societal or peer encouragement towards something negative, and crafts it into an admission of vulnerability and capitulation to his lover’s allure.

As we move on to “When we met, innocent / Now I’m dead / Every time you’re touchin’ me,” the transformation Bay undergoes due to the relationship becomes clear. What began as purity has evolved into something overwhelming, an obsession, marking the journey from innocence to addiction.

In the second repetition of the chorus, Bay adds, “So I give you my everything and you keep on teasing / With that look in your eyes ’cause you know I believe it.” This further solidifies the addictive attraction and the play of power dynamics in their relationship. Bay is recklessly all-in, succumbing to the thrilling game of seduction that leaves him vulnerable to his lover’s whims.

As the song concludes with the same chorus, we gather an understanding of the cyclical nature of this tumultuous relationship. Bay’s “addiction” is a recurring loop with no apparent exit, an enthralling dance of desire leading to surrender, and then back to desire. This fascinating exploration of the complexities of romantic relationships is what makes “Peer Pressure” an engrossing pop hit.

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