Single Review: Michelle Branch “Are You Happy Now?”

Are You Happy Now?
Album: Hotel Paper
Year: 2003

Michelle Branch really, really wants to be taken seriously. “I just want [people] to actually listen to the record and, I guess, give me a chance. I don’t know, younger artists, people kind of write us off as being this novelty kind of thing, and people forget that George Harrison was 17 when he was in the Beatles, U2 was my age … the Rolling Stones, everyone. It doesn’t matter how old you are, it shouldn’t matter at all.” Oh naive Michelle, age is everything in pop music. When Vitamin C came out, she was in her mid-20s. Old enough to be considered over-the-hill. Pop music moves at warp speed and usually it’s three albums and you’re out.

In the caustic “Are You Happy Now?,” Michelle Branch confronts an ex-boyfriend after a recent breakup. She wants to him to listen to her side, even though she knows it’s fruitless (“Now, don’t just walk away/Pretending everything’s ok/And you don’t care about me/And I know there’s just no use/When all your lies become your truths and I don’t care… yeah, yeah, yeah”).

She then asks him in the chorus if he could tell the truth for once and admit that he made a mistake (“could you look me in the eye/And tell me that you’re happy now, ohhh, ohhh/Would you tell it to my face or have I been erased/Are you happy now?”)

In the second verse, she tells him that he used her and took advantage of her (“you took there was all to take/and you don’t care about it”). She also has had enough and stoops to his same level of immaturity by placing all the problems in the relationship on him (“and I am givin’ up this game/I’m leaving you with all the blame ’cause I don’t care”).

She uses the bridge to hurt him by singing “do you really have everything you want?/
you can’t ever give somethin’ you ain’t got/you can’t run away from yourself.” In the last two choruses, she asks if she has been replaced and declares that she’s “not about to break.”

Dave Navarro is the reason to listen to the single. His guitar solo in the bridge conveys Branch’s anguish better than Branch herself. He gives the song the necessary amount of angst. With him, “Are You Happy Now?” is more corporate rock and less bubblegum rock.

Branch, however, has given up from singing from her gut and instead goes the easy way: through her nose. The result is a nasal, little-girl voice that is frail and shrill. She doesn’t ever sound angry, only inconvienced by her ex-boyfriend’s presence. Oh naive Michelle, forgetting that 1998 killed off the Lilith Fair singers, which like you, were a trend.

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