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Released: 2022

‘Astronomy’ by Conan Gray gives us a front-row seat to a heart-wrenching journey of love — a love story that’s compellingly beautiful in its tragedy. The song traverses the archetypal narrative of a young, star-crossed romance, filled with hope, dreams, and obstacles, ultimately succumbing to the inevitable forces of distance and difference. The underlying theme centers on the age-old struggle between the heart’s desire and the realities of life, a dichotomy as grand and wistful as the interstellar expanse that the track metaphorically employs.

Starting with the first verse, we’re introduced to the youthful innocence and shared circumstances of the protagonists — ‘runaway fathers and mothers who drank’ paints a picture of trauma and shared hardship. This bond, however, is short-lived as the song reveals — ‘A tale old as time, young love don’t last for life’.

Rolling into the chorus, Gray brilliantly uses the metaphor of ‘astronomy’ to underscore the rift between the lovers. Interstellar imagery — ‘we’ve seen everything from Saturn to Mars’ — symbolises the breadth of their shared experiences, while the stark declaration ‘we’re two worlds apart’ emphasises the chasm that’s grown between them. The line ‘It’s astronomy’ is essentially pop music’s poignant way of saying, ‘it’s complicated’.

By the bridge, Gray delivers the sobering reality — instead of distance making the heart grow fonder, in their case, it’s driven them further apart. The line ‘You said, “Distance brings fondness”, but guess not with us’ is a biting commentary on their failed expectations. Interestingly, the line ‘The only mistake that we didn’t make was run’ suggests a hint of regret, perhaps implying they held on too long to something destined to fracture.

Finally, the layered refrain ‘Stop trying to keep us alive/You can’t force the stars to align when they’ve already died’ is a poignant cry against futile attempts to resuscitate a dying love. The imagery reinforces the theme of astronomy, highlighting the harsh truth – some stars, like some relationships, despite their once mesmerising brilliance, are simply meant to burn out.

‘Astronomy’ is Conan Gray’s compelling sketch of star-crossed love, fizzled dreams, heartbreaking distance, and the painful, yet necessary, act of letting go. In using the metaphor of space, he’s brilliantly captured the expansive and isolating nature of love, its hopeful beginnings and its often inevitable, bitter end.

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