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Released: 2021

“You broke me first” by Tate McRae is an emotional pop anthem that serves as a direct address to a lover who has left and has now returned. It weaves a heartbreaking tale of a relationship that once was, marred by denial, hurt, and ultimately a poignant assertion of self-worth against the tides of a flawed love.

Opening lines reveal the root of the heartache: the lover’s inability to communicate (“Maybe you don’t like talking too much about yourself/But you should’ve told me that you were thinking ’bout someone else”). This lack of transparency leads to a break-up, followed by a period of no contact, amplified by the poignant image of a switched-off phone. The protagonist is jolted out of this silence when the ex decides to reconnect, which only deepens the wounds.

In the pre-chorus, we see a pattern of dependency unveiled (“When shit don’t go your way, you needed me to fix it”). The protagonist is caught in a cycle of salvaging a lover who only turns to them when things spiral. But as the chorus lets on, she’s stripped of excuses to justify his behaviour (“But I ran out of every reason”). And now, when he suddenly wants her back, she questions his audacity (“Could you tell me, where’d you get the nerve?”). Even though he misses what they had, she’s unapologetic about not caring for his pain, for he was the one to cause her despair first.

The second verse continues to shed light on the aftermath of the break-up. The protagonist confesses to her initial denial, her hurt on discovering her lover moving on quickly, and her longing depicted through the metaphor of staring at the phone hoping to see his name. But when he finally does reach out, she’s at a loss for words, reinforcing the theme of hurt and the lingering effects of the love lost.

The bridge is a stark censure, asking him what he expected would happen after causing such emotional turmoil. This culminates in the defiant proclamation, “I’ll never let you have it” – refusing to mend what’s broken, to rekindle the love that had once been. A victorious reversal from being the one who fixed things to the assertive rebuke of her ex-lover’s entitlement.

In sum, “You broke me first” is a pop break-up classic that encapsulates the painful aftermath of a failed relationship, the emotional roller-coaster, and the strength that emerges from the ashes. And Tate McRae, with her raw, emotive lyrics, transforms this suffering into a universal anthem for those who’ve been hurt and emerged resilient.

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