2018, chapter 32: ‘America’s Sweetheart’ by Elle King (nr. 144)

Bruno is a Heathen. He bonds with his recruiter. Her hometown said she was too loud and she’d never be the poster type. But she wasn’t going to change for anyone. So she lit a match and burned it down.

She’s coarse and likes it. She drinks too much and wears old boots. She’s got bad tattoos and a chip in her front teeth. She is cold-hearted and breaks the hearts of every man she’s been with (causing them to say that she has no soul).

She’s still loud. She still likes blowing things up and getting her hands dirty – and now she can do it for a cause.

Bruno comments on her behaviour after he has won her respect.

She replies cheerily: “what do you want from me? I’m not America’s sweetheart. You love me anyway.”

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2018, chapter 12: ‘Honest’ by The Chainsmokers (nr. 124)

A young girl is driving down the road at 5am. She goes by the name ‘Chainsmoker’. She’s supposed to call her parents, but she doesn’t know to say. She’s not over the fact that they thought that she should have thought of them instead of herself. Instead, she’s listening to the radio in order to distract herself from the thought of it. As long as she is sober, this works.

She has offered another girl a lift home. This girl is a stranger. Because of that, she doesn’t love Chainsmoker. Not like her parents do. And even if the girl wanted to get to know Chainsmoker, it wouldn’t be possible. She keeps a detached air about her and her feelings to herself. She doesn’t need nobody else. So she listens to the radio to discourage talking.

6am, she’s still on the road. She left her parents at least three weeks ago and is by now far away from them. They had a disagreement and they had told her to be honest. She was, and it apparently didn’t sit well with them. So now she’s on the road, despite the fact that she doesn’t really like the road. At least she has the radio.

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111: ‘Only Prettier’ by Miranda Lambert

Last time Sara met her siblings went less than well.

That is a long time ago now. And one late night, she sees them out with their friends. Sara is sitting and talking with King. They notice her and push away their high life friends, so they don’t see her, before walking up to her.

Sara has missed them and has softened significantly since last time. Still, she can’t herself from mocking them by thanking for saving her from talking to their friends with their southern charm. She comments on how they are still so well-behaved, just like their parents wanted.

She, however, offers up a handshake and a truce. She doesn’t want a fight. They can just agree to disagree and make amends, even though they don’t like each other. They’re after all not that different – Sara is just prettier (same can be said for her friends compared to theirs).

She offers them a drink, but they say no because they’re trying to lose weight. And true, they both weigh 100 pounds and stand 5 foot 3.

So she just says “bless your heart” and buys another drink for herself.

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109: ‘Good To Be A Man’ by Elle King

Sara doesn’t just dance. She also gets a good talk.

Sara does not have the best opinion of men. And King, the guy she is talking to, does nothing to help that opinion. In his defence, he owns up to it. He admits to not having a conscience and not feeling bad for the awful things he says.

This makes him a perfect target for Sara’s venting: About men drinking until they get mean, chewing tobacco, always having to be right, cheating and just doing dumb things because they should. She tells a story about a guy she knew, who got stuck in a ditch, which she knew, he would.

They agree that being a man is damn good these days.

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106: ‘Not Afraid’ by Eminem

This is a flashback from when Slim, the rapper who was an inspiration to Sara, still had daughters to raise.

Slim was a rapper then too. He had a friend and a faith.

Then he went to a bad place; he started drinking.

Now he was out of it and he wanted to lead his fans who were also in a bad place out with him. Nothing would stop him from doing this.

He had not been popular while he was drinking. He had made some bad albums (named Infinite and Relapse) but kept making music. He was married to the game, and couldn’t stop. This made people doubt his talent and look down on him.

Dre, his friend had been particularly critical, not even recognising his work as rap. He had even insulted him publicly while calling himself king. Thus Slim had lost all respect for his former mentor and cut contact with him.

He promised his fans he would never let them down again. He even admitted that the Relapse album wasn’t very good. Maybe he ran the accents into the ground. He won’t go back to that again.

He was not just leading the fans out a dark place. He was saving himself from the dark cloud still following him around. He would face his own demons as well.

He wanted them to walk this road together, hand in hand, through the storm, cold and warm weather. The important thing was making clear that they were not alone.

This was also his way of paying back the fans for seeing him through his drinking.

Now he would not concern himself with haters and former friends. He would focus on his responsibilities as a father. He was strong enough to resist drinking and be an inspiration to his fans.

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104: ‘Here’s To Never Growing Up’ by Avril Lavigne

Will is having a baby. He tells Fergie, his friend. She’s happy for him, of course, but realises that this means that he will eventually stop going out partying with her. This throws her into a panic. These nights out have been the first time, she can be herself ever. She NEEDS them to continue!

So she tries to convince him to keep doing this forever by inviting all of their friends for the next night out. She reminds him how much fun they are having. For instance by singing Radiohead at the top of their lungs to a boom box, falling in love with new people, drinking whatever will get them drunk, running down the street yelling “Kiss my ass”, dancing on every bar…

She raises her cup, declaring “here’s to never growing up”, keeps saying, they’re never going to change and tries to get him to say that he’ll stay forever young too (with increasingly more desperation).

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76: ‘Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time’ by Panic! At The Disco

Fergie is used to being hit on when she goes to a bar – but not quite like this.
Will comes up to her, already quite drunk, and decides that his best move it to tell her that he woke up only a few hours earlier in his underwear, seemingly having drunk every bit of liquor in wherever he woke up, not having the faintest idea how he got there, declaring that it was the best feeling ever – and then introduces himself.

If nothing else, it gets her attention and she listens to him as he goes on to tell her, how he actually went out carrying a cane and wearing a party hat – both things he has no idea where are now. He felt like the king of the world and nothing could go wrong. He went out with his fellow students – he’s a pre-med, you see. They went out, had some very well designed drugs a large party and from there – well it’s a bit of a blur.

He tells her, how he usually memories usually came back in flashes – and he’s actually starting to remember one bit from last night. Roaming the city in a shopping cart – wherever they got that from – while smoking cigarettes attempting to set off a fire alarm – which he also don’t know where the hell they got from.

Fergie laughs at this story and comments that “”If you go on you might pass out in a drain pipe.”

He arches an eyebrow at her and answers: “don’t threaten me with a good time.”

And then once again, it all goes black.

He wakes up… somewhere. Once again without any clothes on. But not alone this time. Fergie is with him, smiling. He looks around for clothes, a bed sheet, anything to cover him up – and also any indication that the smile could mean that anything happened between them.

It all feels unreal, his eyes are playing tricks on him – and is he soaking wet?

Fergie has a better idea of the night’s events. She tells him, that they somehow ended up in his neighbour’s pool (good, then he’s not too far away from home this time), they had sped from bar to bar and he had proposed to her… repeatedly (judging by her laughter at this, it’s unlikely anything happened between them at all).

At some point, she had tried telling him to cut back on the alcohol… to which he replied: “I’m not as think as you drunk I am”, which amused her quite a bit.

So yeah, he probably had enough.

But hey, here he is here with a woman… who is laughing her ass off, but still.

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