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Released: 2018

The track “Crush Culture” by Conan Gray laments the intricacies and pressures of modern romance, with a biting critique of today’s romantic conventions. Gray portrays the culture of infatuation as being manipulative and distracting, leaving him wanting to isolate himself from it all.

In the opening line, Conan begins on a cynical note with a stark rebuke of the constant anticipation for contact in this digital age with “My God, don’t look at your phone / No one’s gonna call you”. Through vivid imagery, Gray suggests the idea of being loveproof — impervious to the emotional manipulation he sees as inherent in the culture.

When Gray sings “crush culture makes me wanna spill my guts out,” he’s expressing disgust with the shallow obsessions people often indulge in around their romantic interests. He sees this culture as toxic, leading to an unhealthy obsession with romantic approval and an abandonment of personal autonomy.

Gray also uses the term “kissing cult” as a renunciation of empty and transient romantic interactions that he perceives as meaningless. When he says, “no one cares if you two made out / I’m sick of the kissing cult”, it is a strong dismissal of the public display and bragging about casual romantic exploits.

Conan Gray’s “Crush Culture” eclipses the typical pop song narrative of heartbreak and infatuation. Instead, he shrewdly critiques a culture that pays lip service to love while propagating a toxic and harmful version of it. His demand to “let me be sad and lonely” champions the idea of embracing solitude and emotional honesty over the crushing burden of societal pressure to engage in romantic relationships.

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