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Released: 2024

In the song “Flea” by St. Vincent, the artist offers an eerie portrayal of an obsessive relationship. Through the metaphor of being a flea on a person’s body, the lyrics explore the theme of possessiveness and near-parasitic dependency. The song underlines that once involved in such a parasitic relationship, it becomes incredibly tough to escape.

The opening lines, “I’m just like a hungry little flea / Jumping on somebody’s warm body”, use the flea as a metaphor for the speaker, who is seeking a host that they can latch onto. When they mention “When you start to itch and scratch and scream / Once I’m in, you can’t get rid of me”, it conveys the unpleasant consequences of such possessiveness, highlighting the discomfort and helplessness of the person on the receiving end of such obsession.

St. Vincent’s repeated line, “Drip you in diamonds, pour you in cream / You will be mine for eternity”, is a bold assertion of control. It signals a lavish, but controlling behavior – the pouring of cream and the dripping of diamonds, while spectacular, suggests a certain objectification of the individual in question. The finality in the phrase “You will be mine for eternity” underscores an everlasting dominance, even to the point of seeming eerily unsettling.

The verse, “When you’re walking down your sunny street (I got it) / Thinking of your bills or what to eat (I got it, ah, I got it)” shows the speaker’s desire to control even the mundane aspects of the person’s life. Their interruption with the phrase “I got it” exemplifies a desire to meet all the needs of the person, hence ensuring their continued dependency. However, this seemingly generous act is quickly undercut by the following line “I look at you and all I see is meat”, stating that the person is regarded as nothing more than a resource to be consumed. The term ‘meat’ is a striking choice of word, reminiscent of exploitation and dehumanization.

In sum, “Flea” is a haunting exploration of toxic relationships, possessiveness, and obsessive control. The song uses the metaphor of a flea on a body to highlight the parasitic nature of such relationships. Cutting through the pop-music fluff, St. Vincent presents an unsettling dissection of our darker human tendencies.

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