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Released: 2019

While pop often gets criticized for being superficial, Zara Larsson’s “All the Time” resolutely rejects that notion, presenting us with a deeply emotive exploration of longing, restlessness, and the lingering echoes of a lost love. It revolves around the concept of time, using it as a parallel to highlight the persistent thoughts of an ex-lover that haunts the narrator from the “breaking of the day to the middle of the night, all the time”.

The song kicks off with an intriguing contradiction – while Larsson sings about “getting high” and being “up on the ceiling” in the summertime, her high isn’t of the euphoric kind. Nope, we’re in heartbreak city, folks. She’s talking about the idle moments in her bedroom, where the memories of an old flame are too potent to ignore. The “you ain’t on my bedroom floor” line speaks volumes about how she yearns for their presence, but all she’s got are echoes of the past.

As we move into the chorus, those repetitive lines “From the breaking of the day to the middle of the night” aren’t just melodic earworms. Instead, they are a sonic representation of her obsessive thoughts, the constant churning of memories and longing, cycling in her mind “all the time”. She’s desperately trying to forget, yet the thought of her past lover with “someone else” is like a dagger to the heart. The line “I don’t know why you’re dancing in my mind” underscores the involuntary nature of her fixation and her frustration over why these memories won’t fade.

The second verse takes us deeper into her mindscape. The scent of the lover’s perfume is ubiquitous, and the big city – New York, as mentioned – feels haunted by this absence. Again, the lyrics circle back to the visuals of her lover “undressed in my room”, a callback to intimacy that only amplifies her loneliness.

Bridging to the end, the song conveys an interesting shift. Larsson now wonders if her ex-lover reciprocates these feelings. “And I wonder if you think about me too” holds a quiet desperation that breaks the solitude of her musings and introduces a two-way dialogue. But regardless of the answer, the refrain brings her back to the harsh reality – she’s stuck in a loop of seeking closure and reliving memories “From the breaking of the day to the middle of the night”.

In the grand scheme of pop, “All the Time” delivers a compelling narrative about post-breakup emotional turmoil. Zara Larsson’s vivid language and raw emotions communicate the story with a depth that resonates. It’s a masterclass in how pop can unflinchingly navigate complex emotional landscapes, one earworm at a time.