It’s time once again for another niche post! It’s been too long, really. The following is a very in-depth analysis of my favorite Vocaloid song ever, Kikuo-P’s “Love Me, Love Me, Love Me”.
For those completely uninitiated, check out my last post about Vocaloid if you want a basic crash course on it. Vocaloid is an incredibly fascinating genre of music overall, but today I was feeling the itch to talk about how much I love this one particular song without getting too bogged down with the more general ideas of its genre.
“Love Me, Love Me, Love Me” is a prime example of my favorite part of producer Kikuo-P’s work, in that it presents a rather basic story with such creepy and otherworldly imagery that it comes off incredibly fresh and unique. If you’re looking for something super spooky in the world of Vocaloid, you really don’t have to travel too far. Probably due to the unreality of its “singers”, a lot of Vocaloid songs are free to explore very dark themes without being hindered by real-life morals and norms (an idea that I definitely want to expand upon at a later date).
However, personally, a lot of these songs leave me feeling uninspired, mostly because they are so incredibly unrealistic that I’m not even frightened by them. A lot of them seem to be trying too hard to be gory and scary and miss out on any actual personal connection the audience. Kikuo-P, on the other hand, opts for a far more personal and emotional take on the idea of creepy songs, one that is more grounded in reality, and in doing so actually evokes an emotional response from his audience. Fear, yes, but also far more complex emotions.
As is the case with most of Kikuo’s work (and most Vocaloid songs in general), “Love Me, Love Me, Love Me”’s meaning is very tied to its visuals, so I’ll be analyzing those as well. If you wish to follow along, here’s the video I’ll be using.
In addition, I also want to shout out this English dub of the song. While I won’t be directly using these translated lyrics, they did assist me in my understanding of this song (and it’s also a really well-done dub.)
The first twenty seconds of the PV to this song sets up the motif it will be following for its entirety, that of a red and black scribbly sort of chaos. It’s immediately unsettling because nothing in the video feels solid. In fact, not even the text of the title of the song, producer, and Vocaloid used is stationary, dropping in quickly and floating aimlessly away. This fits in with the jittery xylophone sounds present throughout the song. All in all, it’s pretty trippy, and also very thematically relevant.
Once the lyrics begin, the movement slows down, presenting only a black screen with a red border, although a ghostly image of a girl’s face flashes in several different colors while tilting unsteadily. Finally, the image settles on a white sketchy image of this girl, the only colors present being her magenta eyes and nails. This image is very important, and will be repeated with some variation throughout the video. Lyrically, we are also introduced to the idea of the “cursed necklace”, a very important, albeit a bit ambiguous, symbol to the meaning of this song.
The image eventually fills with color, revealing a more solid image of this girl. Her hands grip at her neck, but it’s important to note that she wears no actual necklace. The “cursed collar” is instead represented by scribbly white lines which dance around her neck. It’s this imagery that suggests to be that this “collar” is not real at all, but rather a metaphor. (The collar does later appear in the image, but it’s delayed, which makes me think that’s merely a stylistic choice.)
Meanwhile, the lyrics describe the motivation of this “collar”.
“I want people, I want people,
It cried, this cursed necklace,
Don’t get angry, don’t abandon me, don’t go anywhere”
The “necklace” tied around the girl’s neck desires human attention, and positive, loyal attention at that. Personally, I think the desires of the necklace, considering the fact that it isn’t truly real, reflects the desires of the girl herself. It is she who desires this attention. However, clearly this motivation is harmful to the girl.
“Fasten it tightly,
Until you throw up,
So there aren’t any people here.
Nice results, huh?
Hey, hey, aren’t I a nice child?
Aren’t I a cute child?
Hey, hey, I’m a nice child, right?
It hurts, hey”
These lyrics suggest a certain amount of obsessiveness in the girl. Her desire for human attention is so incredibly important to her that it chokes her, stifling her ability to connect with others. The questions in these lyrics reflect her obsessive need to be loved by others around her, constantly asking whether she is “cute” or “nice” while declaring that these feelings hurt.
I also want to draw attention to the visuals presented here. In this part, a pair of hands clapping along with the beat appears. Between the hands, small red doodles show up, only to be smashed by the clapping hands, creating red scribbles on the hands and the surrounding video. The images shown are of a one-eyed creature, a crudely-drawn woman, and slightly more realistically-drawn man. In addition, the same image of the girl we’ve seen a few times appears between the hands for a bit, but this image isn’t smashed like the others.
I think the lyrics along with the visuals sheds light on what that collar represents. If we consider the beginning of the video to be a reflection of this girl when she was young, we might see the “collar” being representative of a childlike desire for validation from peers. The collar is constantly present, a reminder that this girl must constantly strive to be the very best in order to acquire love and validation from the people around her.
The visuals, on the other hand, seem to reflect an anger towards others around her. I’m not sure what the one-eyed creature represents, but the man and woman look like they could be parental figures. It’s notable that the amount of red scribbles/blood spatter increases drastically when the man is smashed as opposed to the woman. I don’t know what conclusion can be drawn from this, but I think overall this might reflect that it is the adult figures in her life putting pressure on her. I think it may be saying that during this part of her life, she feels the need to please her parental figures most of all. The chorus reflects this need to please others.
“Love me, love me, love me,
More and more,
Love me, love me,
So much that it’s maddening,
It’s painful, it hurts, this curse of mine,
Undo it, undo it, hey!
It can’t be stopped…”
The repetition of the “love me” in the chorus reflects an obsessive need for validation, and explains why she considers it a painful curse that cannot be stopped. The visuals during the chorus show various screaming faces, including that of the girl, represented with a white tie around her neck. Despite being a metaphorical reminder of the “cursed collar” causing all this agony, this image lends emphasis to the fact that the girl feels trapped by her need to please others.
In addition, butterflies begin appearing. Butterflies are symbolic of change and growth, and that brings us to another important motif that we’ll be looking at in the next verse – the growth of our main character. In the last visual of the chorus, she is shown covered in butterflies, then scribbles, and then her image changes. Her hair is longer and she appears to be wearing a school uniform. Clearly, taking the butterflies into account, we can assume she’s aged, perhaps to a high school age taking into account the uniform.
No matter how big your body grows,
This necklace remains small,
It hurts now, it’s not enough now
People aren’t, people aren’t enough now
First of all, we can see that even as our main character grows, her pressure to please others remains. Metaphorically, as she grows, the collar remains the same size, slowly strangling her. The pressure has led to what appears to be a lack of satisfaction towards just the affection of other people.
What does she desire now? Well…
I won’t lose to anyone of my class,
Aren’t I a lovely child?
Hey, more than that child and more than that child,
Everyone, everyone, come look at me!
She desires to be better than everyone else, of course. It’s still seemingly embedded in a desire to be loved, but now it seems the continuing pressure has made it competitive. She wants not only to be loved, she wants to be loved the most of everyone.
Overlaid with visuals of spiders suggesting a predatory instinct, we see the further degradation of our main character from a helpless child just wanting to be loved to someone far more malicious.
Behind the gymnasium, my confession to you,
Was it kind of a lie?
I love you,
You who are so filthy.
This line furthers the connection to the main character aging to high school age, since the behind-the-(insert school building here) love confession is a pretty standard trope. But this one is twisted. Though the narrator claims to love the person she’s confessing to, she also claims that they’re “filthy”.
So I think this scene serves as a more specific example of the depths our main character has sunk to regarding her need for affection. As we established before, she’s gotten to a point where she has to prove herself the most loved, so for her to love someone else is counter-productive.
The next chorus’s lyrics change slightly, with the “Love me, Love me”s followed with a few new lines:
I’ll give you everything
And I will have you, I will have you
Bear everything for me
It’s not enough, you’re not enough
I won’t let you go, ah,
Please forgive me
This is probably in reference to the person she confessed to behind the gymnasium in the last verse. There’s a lot of conflicting ideals here – while the subject wants to “give them everything” and wants to “have” them, they claim that they’re “not enough”. So here’s what I think. I think we’re seeing a conflict within the main character of the song.
She’s been taught, or led to believe, that she’s supposed to be constantly the most loved. It’s her curse, her “collar”, constantly strangling her. So when she falls in love with someone else, she’s unsure of how to fit it into her worldview. When she’s constantly trying to make others love her, how can she love someone else? Thus the “Please forgive me.” The subject of the song does actually love this person, but they don’t know how to.
The song then leaps into a repeat of the earlier chorus, minus the last line, “This is happiness, right?”
I think this connects back to what I was talking about earlier – that our character’s worldview is so skewed that she can no longer determine what love or happiness is. I also want to point out the visuals here – we see our character age again. Now, the collar is represented by two snakes twisting around her neck – one white, one black. Despite the obvious implications of the further decay of our main character’s state of mind, I think the dual snakes and their opposing colors also bring back that idea that she’s at war with herself, her love against her need to be loved.
And that’s the meaning of “Love Me, Love Me, Love Me”, but I wanna talk about one other thing, and that’s the genius of the horror presented in this song.
I always think the best horror comes out of fear for real life situations. Ghosts and demons and serial murderers and other oogie boogie creatures are scary on the surface, but true horror comes from forging a connection between the real and the fantastical.
Even though the horror of the song appears to come from the “curse” put on the main character, in reality, the “curse” is a far more real problem of her feeling that she must please everyone. It’s true that the pressures to please everyone around you grow more suffocating as you get older, but that’s a hard thing to explain. So Kikuo-P uses the fantastical image of the cursed collar to represent this idea and the horror and pain it can cause through horrific, chaotic imagery. This situation is horrific, even if it’s realistic, so the emotions are effectively communicated through the lens of horrific imagery.
Anyway, Kikuo-P does horror so right. And I had to take approximately 2,000 words to prove it. Less niche post coming next week…. maybe.