„Airplanes“– the title appeals to me! I love flying. Airplanes stand for the wonders of technology, success, adventure, far countries and the dream of the great, wide world.
It is all about dreams in this song by B.o.B: “Let’s pretend that airplanes in the night skies are like shooting stars…” When I see a shooting star, I can make a wish. That is why he sings: “I could really use a wish right now.”
So this is the main theme of the song: wishes, hopes, goals, dreams and their failure.
The contrasts in this song make it a highly dynamic one: a black man (B.o.B), a white woman (Hayley Williams) as singers, melodic pop in the chorus and fast rap in the verses.
From the dark night skies we move onto the stage of success. „Partyin‘, smashin‘, crashin‘, glitz and glam and fashion, pandemonium and madness“, this looks like a snapshot from the life of a superstar – exciting, colorful, busy and noisy.
Then, however, there comes the downfall: „You fade to the blackness“. Here again, the song plays with contrasts. We are presented with the prototype of an artist’s nightmare: “And when you’re staring at that phone in your lap and you hoping but them people never call you back….”
You can never be sure how things will develop; you are always on the move, always in a hurry, afraid to be too late for that next appointment, always promising: “I’m on my way so don’t close that gate. If I don’t make that then I’ll switch my flight and I’ll be right back at it by the end of the night.”
What a blessing after all this rat race to be back under the silent night skies – „I could really use a wish right now…“.
In the second verse, we are drawn back into the past, a flashback or is it a hope for the future – or both? We hear of a dream, a desire to go back to a life “much simpler than this”. Back to the roots, to the beginning, the beginning of his musical career as a street musician trying to “get a tip at subway”, back when it didn’t “matter what I had on my bank”, when making music was just fun (“for the hell of it”), not a way of making a living. Money or the lack of money is an issue again. Could it be that money is not only a blessing but a burden, too?
In this song, it’s also about language and identity, about home. “This is for Decatur…” – Bobby Ray Simmons’, the singer’s hometown. In those earlier times he was allowed to use his own slang. He didn’t have to disguise or hide his origin. Today his managers and producers want him to be understandable for all Americans, even for the whole world. So – not too much slang, please ….
Ok, this seems a very idealistic way of looking at it, doesn’t it? Anyway, should someone who makes so much money in the music business be so critical about it? Can we honestly believe he wants to go back to that subway station, back to that demo-mix-cassette nobody wanted to listen to?
Not really. But isn’t he allowed to dream? Aren’t we all? We make decisions; life goes on with all its ups and downs. Somewhere in between there is something like paradise – maybe in the past, maybe in the future. Who knows…?
Maybe dreaming and making wishes can help us deal with so-called “realities”, with our daily life.
Let’s pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars…and make a wish!