I always end up finding a 1975 song that I’ve never heard and I immediately fall in love. It happens every couple months or so. I become obsessed with it. I look up the lyrics. I listen to it on repeat as I do my homework. I find the meaning behind it. I let it consume me. “HNSCC” is different. Coming off the deluxe version of their debut album The 1975, this song is maddeningly beautiful. There are no lyrics, only whaling guitars and electro synths making you feel every emotion possible in the most glorious way.
HNSCC actually stands for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Patients were identified with it in 1975 (hmmmm…) The root of this increasing trend is unclear, although marijuana use and HPV infections are possible explanations. It is commonly found in young males.
In an interview back in early 2013, lead singer Matt Healey told Bang Tidy Music that HNSCC is the chemical title for head nose and throat cancer. He then explained how it was created saying, “My Nana who I was close to died of cancer this year and it was around about that time that the guitarist’s mum got diagnosed with cancer and it felt like it was a big impact, the fact that something you have no control over can really mess with the dynamics of people’s lives. It’s actually a live guitar take. I was playing the guitar plugged in the computer and George was putting it through every plugin you can imagine. He recorded it without telling me so I was in the zone. This was 2 am on a Saturday night so we were under the influence. I recorded the guitar take and we listened to it back hammered and we were like ‘this is really pretty man, nah let’s get some sleep’. We woke up the next day and we just spent like half an hour putting little moments of vocals and synth and that was that. I think ‘Music for Cars’ is the most honest record in regards to things like that.”
Healey then explained that “HNSCC” can stand for whatever you want it to stand for; “That’s what art is, I want people to make up their own things. People have said to me that they have taken something from the music and asked ‘does this mean that?’ and I said ‘no but it does to you’…If it makes you think about something, that’s the reason I [make music]. I want people to feel about our records the same way that I’ve done about other people’s music, whether it’s negative or positive, I just don’t want people to not give a fuck. Six months ago I wouldn’t have minded, but now we’ve started I really want to know what people think.”
As I read through the comments, I noticed people were doing just what Healey said. Finding their own feelings for this song and what it means to them:
-“This makes me feel like I’m in that state between consciousness and sub-consciousness; when I’m slightly aware of what is happening around me, yet I’m kind of drifting apart; like the kinda state where I’m just about to die and I’m counting my last breaths and I can feel my soul is just about to depart and I couldn’t be happier about it because that means this is an end to all my sufferings. And just before I’m about to slip off, I catch that last glance of that person who meant everything to me and that is all to what I’ve ever wanted and I couldn’t be happier.”
-“Every time I listen to this song I cry. Its something about it that’s so beautiful and deep. I feel this type of peace and serenity in this song. I think what makes it so beautiful is the simplicity, the calming sounds. It feels like you’re slowly dying, but you’re dying a peaceful death. It really makes you think about how wonderful death really is. Life is hell, but its a test. And this song makes me feel like the test is finally over. I’m far too young to think about death but honestly I like the sound of the word death. For some these thoughts I’m feeling are quite morbid or scary, but honestly death is beautiful. All your worries and fears are finally over. This is what I think this songs about. It might be different to everyone else though.”
-“it reminds me of when you’re in a coma and you have the choice to live or die. like all the memories and all your different stories are playing back in a fast motion and it stops on certain ones, and those are the memories that help you decide to stay or let go. i feel like I’m somewhere between conscious and unconscious, relaxed and stress free. Happy.”
-“when you’re in the back seat of a car, driving late at night. Very little cars around on the highway. And no one is making noise. just the road, the car engine and you breathing.”
-“When I listen to this song. I feel like I am standing in the edge of a cliff and the wind is howling around me. Whipping my hair about and I feel terribly alone because there is no one around me and I can’t even hear my own breathing. This song sets me on an edge. An edge I quite like. This is the kind of music that brings you to a terminal closure. I know it sounds bad but in a way I feel like this is the kind of song which makes you feel okay about giving up. Like it’s okay to jump and be peaceful. I feel like this is something one might hear when he or she is ready to give up. The freedom of being able to give up completely is what I feel through this song. It’s a the soundtrack of closure and feeling renewed with the idea of not existing for mundane things. Whenever I have such thoughts, this song is the only thing I listen to. It makes me feel light. Free of burden and one with myself even though I can’t fucking hear the voices in my head.”
-“colors. that’s all i see when i hear this, memories of past friends and things i wouldn’t remember just listening to the birds. like the flashback of your life when your dying, people you loved and stories you heard. sounds, like the laughter of a friend who died before she actually lived, a train speeding past you. tastes like bitter chocolate, green tea with too much sugar, salty tears. this song has a vibe to it i can’t even explain.”
I think this is so amazing that people are feeling so many crazy things for this song. It really shows the immense power that music has over people, emotionally and mentally. I can only imagine how proud The 1975 are that they created such a gorgeous song that can touch so many people.