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Released: 2018

“On a Level” by Tove Styrke is a fierce and introspective piece, calling out pretentiousness and dishonesty in relationships while emphasizing the value of authenticity and simplicity. The song is a dialogue between the singer and a partner, highlighting the significant gap between the persona they project and who they truly are.

Breaking it down, Tove starts the song with “You’re talking so tall, yo / Like you won the lotto / But underneath it, I know what you’re like.” Here, she’s calling out her partner’s penchant for bragging, likening him to someone who’s just won the lottery – acting like he’s on top of the world. But Tove sees through his front, implying depth beyond the braggadocio.

She expresses her disappointment with the lyrics, “You say you’re the baddest / But you ain’t being honest.” The term “baddest” in hip-hop traditionally refers to someone who is tough, powerful, or commendable. However, she’s indicating that her partner’s claim to be the “baddest” isn’t rooted in honesty. He’s not demonstrating genuine strength or authenticity; he’s merely pretending.

Tove’s chorus, “Keep it on a level / ‘Cause you know you ain’t gotta try / Nah, nah, nah, you ain’t gotta try” serves as an earnest and direct call-out. Stating “Keep it on a level” is a request for straightforwardness and authenticity – she wants her partner to drop the mask. She emphasizes, “you ain’t gotta try,” suggesting his efforts to maintain a certain image are unnecessary and, perhaps, damaging to their relationship.

She continues this theme with the lyrics “Don’t know what to say, yo / It ain’t like me to tiptoe / And keep it on the down low, can’t lie…But right now you just ain’t you / And I just kinda miss you, alright.” Here, she conveys her own discomfort with pretension and dishonesty, saying it’s unlike her to “tiptoe” or “keep it on the down low”. She yearns for the real side of her partner, stating that he’s not himself and that she misses the true person behind the facade.

The song wraps with Tove saying, “Just speak body language if you wanna have it / It’s all that I want you to say.” Here, she is expressing a desire for honest, non-verbal communication over flashy words and bravado, emphasizing the importance of showing rather than telling. This signals a deeper connection that transcends verbal communication, reinforcing the raw and sincere relationship she seeks.

In essence, “On a Level” by Tove Styrke is a powerful call for authenticity in a world often cloaked in pretension. It’s a lyrical reflection of the struggle to maintain realness amidst the allure of constructed personas in relationships.