100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #74: “Just Give Me a Reason” by P!nk feat. Nate Ruess

The song at #74 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is the beautiful “Just Give Me a Reason” by P!nk, featuring guest vocals by Nate Ruess. The deeply moving piano ballad is one of my favorite songs from P!nk, and was the third single from her outstanding 2012 album The Truth About Love. The song was a massive worldwide hit, topping the charts in 21 countries including the U.S., and received unanimous critical acclaim.

“Just Give Me a Reason” was co-written by P!nk, Jeff Bhasker (who produced the album), and fun. lead singer Nate Ruess, who also provides his stirring vocals. The song is a heartfelt plea between two people desperate to hold on to a relationship that appears to be falling apart. It was originally intended to be sung just by P!nk, but she soon realized that she needed someone else to sing the song with her, as she felt it was more of a conversation between two people rather than from the perspective of just one person in the relationship. She asked Ruess to sing the song with her as a duet, and the result was magical. The raw emotional power achieved by their dual vocal harmonies gives me goosebumps every single time I hear it.

The lyrics are so honest and relatable that I feel compelled to include them in their entirety:

Right from the start
You were a thief
You stole my heart
And I your willing victim
I let you see the parts of me
That weren’t all that pretty
And with every touch you fixed them

Now you’ve been talking in your sleep, oh, oh
Things you never say to me, oh, oh
Tell me that you’ve had enough
Of our love, our love

Just give me a reason
Just a little bit’s enough
Just a second we’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again
It’s in the stars
It’s been written in the scars on our hearts
We’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again

I’m sorry I don’t understand
Where all of this is coming from
I thought that we were fine
(Oh, we had everything)
Your head is running wild again
My dear we still have everythin’
And it’s all in your mind
(Yeah, but this is happenin’)

You’ve been havin’ real bad dreams, oh, oh
You used to lie so close to me, oh, oh
There’s nothing more than empty sheets
Between our love, our love
Oh, our love, our love

Just give me a reason
Just a little bit’s enough
Just a second we’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again
I never stopped
You’re still written in the scars on my heart
You’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again

Oh, tear ducts and rust
I’ll fix it for us
We’re collecting dust
But our love’s enough
You’re holding it in
You’re pouring a drink
No nothing is as bad as it seems
We’ll come clean

Just give me a reason
Just a little bit’s enough
Just a second we’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again
It’s in the stars
It’s been written in the scars on our hearts
That we’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #81: “Some Nights” by fun.

The song at #81 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “Some Nights” by New York City-based alternative pop-rock band fun. Formed in 2008, fun. consists of singer-songwriter Nate Ruess, multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dost and singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer Jack Antonoff (who’s also front man for the terrific band Bleachers). Their debut album Aim and Ignite was fairly well-received, though a commercial disappointment. But it was their second album Some Nights that propelled fun. to international fame. The title track “Some Nights” was the second single and follow-up to their massive hit “We Are Young” (which appears later on this list). The song was a worldwide hit, reaching #1 in Australia, New Zealand, Belgium and Israel, and also the Billboard Alternative, Rock and Adult Top 40 Charts. It reached #3 on the Hot 100.

With both folk rock and power pop elements, “Some Nights” has an incredibly exuberant melody, with a powerful military-style drumbeat and Ruess’ commanding vocals that give it a jubilant vibe. The song has been favorably compared to Simon & Garfunkel’s “Cecilia”, and in fact, in an interview with Billboard, Ruess stated that Paul Simon’s Graceland was a major influence for the song. He added that the song is about “just being someone different on any given night.” In another interview with Mesfin Fekadu of the Associated Press, Ruess explained: “I’m always thinking about, ‘Who am I and why did I do something like that?’ And I think then it harkens back to my family, and I have such a strong tie to them and it’s always therapeutic to sing about them.”

The rather dark and intense video, produced by Poonam Sehrawat and directed by Anthony Mandler, depicts a fictional battle taking place during the American Civil War. The band is shown performing the song from afar as a battle breaks out, with lead singer Ruess appearing as the commander of the Union force.

In early 2015, fun. announced they were going on hiatus so that each band member could pursue their own individual projects. Ruess sang on P!nk’s 2013 hit single “Just Give Me a Reason” (which will also appear later on this list), and on Eminem’s 2014 single “Headlights”, and released a solo album Grand Romantic in June 2015 to mostly positive reviews. Andrew Dost wrote the soundtrack for the 2015 black comedy The D Train, and is currently working on new music. In addition to his work as front man for Bleachers, Jack Antonoff has worked as a songwriter and producer with several renowned artists, including Taylor Swift (on her albums 1989, Reputation, Lover and Folklore), Lorde (on her album Melodrama), St. Vincent (on her album Masseduction), Lana Del Rey (on Norman Fucking Rockwell) and The Chicks (on their album Gaslighter).