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Meaning of ‘This Feeling’ by ‘The Chainsmokers’ feat. Kelsea Ballerini

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Released: 2018

Features: Kelsea Ballerini

At its core, “This Feeling” by The Chainsmokers, featuring Kelsea Ballerini, is a straight-up anthem for the heart battling the head. It’s a celebration and affirmation of raw, unfiltered emotion, pitted against the pull of reason, expectation, and societal norms. The song masterfully chronicles the emotional tug-of-war that often ensues when you’re head-over-heels in love, but the world refuses to understand.

The opening lines, “I’ll tell you a story before it tells itself / I’ll lay out all my reasons, you’ll say that I need help”, play with the concept of proactive storytelling. The singer is trying to explain their emotions before they spin out of control and make a spectacle. They openly acknowledge their reasons might not make sense to everyone else — hence the anticipation of being told they need ‘help’, i.e. advice.

Verse 2 takes this notion a step further with: “I’ll tell them a story, they’ll sit and nod their heads / I tell you all my secrets, and you tell all your friends.” Here, we see the struggle of being vulnerable about emotions to those around them, only to feel judged rather than supported. “Stand by what you said / In the end, it’s my decision, so it’s my fault when it ends” reiterates the singer’s determination to follow their heart, knowing fully well they are setting themselves up for potential heartbreak and blame.

Two key lines that repeat in the song are: “They tell me to think with my head, not that thing in my chest / They got their hands at my neck this time.” This is a classic depiction of the age-old struggle of logic vs. emotion. People often advise us to think logically, thereby downplaying the importance of the emotional ‘thing in your chest’. ‘Hands at my neck’ adds an interesting layer, bringing in a vivid image of external pressure and control, eliciting a sense of suffocation.

The chorus is an upfront dismissal of naysayers, with a defiant “But you’re the one that I want, if that’s really so wrong / Then they don’t know what this feeling is like.” It’s the singer’s resolute assertion that they know what they feel, regardless of others’ opinions — something that many of us can resonate with when it comes to love.

The final lines: “My friends say no-o, no-o-o (but they don’t know) / No-o, no-o-o / Yeah, no-o, no-o-o” is a powerful close. It highlights the dissonance between the singer and their friends and their inability (or unwillingness) to understand the protagonist’s feelings. But as the final chorus states, “They don’t know, oh”. It’s a powerful, defiant ending that stresses the uniqueness of personal experience, particularly in matters of the heart.

In essence, “This Feeling”, is not only a pop banger but an audacious demand for the freedom to feel and act on our emotions without judgment or constraint. It’s about owning your feelings, even when they’re messy and inconveniently against the grain. It’s about shutting out the noise and listening to that thing in your chest, because no one is really qualified to tell you what love should feel like.

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