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Released: 2008

“Campus” by Vampire Weekend is a melodious trip into the world of collegiate youth, painted with hues of nostalgia, heartbreak, and awkward encounters. It encapsulates the sentiments of a college goer coming to terms with a romance that seems to have run its course.

The opening lines “I wake up, my shoulder’s cold, I’ve got to leave here/Before I go, I pull my shirt on, walk out the door” set the stage for a morning after what appears to be a casual encounter or a fading relationship. The repetition of dragging the feet along the floor paints a vivid picture of reluctance or fatigue – surely a metaphor for the narrator’s emotional state.

When the lyrics roll into “Then I see you, you’re walking cross the campus/Cruel professor, studying romances”, it showcases the protagonist’s struggle to move on, haunted by photos, memories, and real-life encounters. The phrase “Cruel professor, studying romances”, is laden with symbolism. It indicates that their love interest is a professor of emotions, holding power and allure, yet their interactions are marked by emotional cruelty or indifference.

The chorus, “How am I supposed to pretend/I never want to see you again?” underscores the aftermath of the failed romance, captured eloquently in the tension between wanting to see someone and the necessity of moving on.

The lines “Spilled kefir on your keffiyah” is a snapshot of a clumsy encounter – the spilling of a trendy probiotic drink on a traditional Middle Eastern headscarf. This just adds to the picture of university life, filled with diversity and the idiosyncrasies of young adulthood.

The closing lines repeatedly juxtapose scenes of the protagonist “sleeping on the balcony” and their love interest “out on the stone and grass”. This suggests a sharp contrast in their post-breakup lives: while one escapes into the comforts of solitude and languor, the other is out embracing life in broad daylight.

“Campus” is an endearing snapshot of the collegiate world, complete with emotional highs and lows, awkward encounters, longing, and learning to move on. It’s a narrative spun in quintessential Vampire Weekend style – sophisticated, self-aware, but still wonderfully youthful.

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