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Florence + the Machine is the work of British singer/songwriter Florence Welch, with 'the machine' being her (rotating) backing group, though the name originally referred to her original collaborator (and current keyboardist for her backing group) Isabella Summers when the group was "Florence Robot/Isa Machine" to be shortened to its current moniker. After her debut album Lungs made number one in the United Kingdom (six months after release, and repeatedly), she became one of 2009's frontrunners in a burst of popular, powerful female pop music. Her second album, Ceremonials, switched tacks abruptly and took the world by storm in a burst of overpowering soul music.
Welch is known for quite macabre lyrics — "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)" was her reaction to being asked to make an upbeat record for marketability! —, love-or-hate performances and haunting vocals.
They contributed the song "Heavy In Your Arms" to the Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack, so tropers in the US can probably expect to hear a bit more of them soon, going by Muse's example. Also recently performed a song for Snow White and the Huntsman.
- Lungs (2009)
- Ceremonials (2011)
Florence and the Machine provide examples of the following tropes:
- Album Title Drop:
- In the second verse of "Only If For a Night" on Ceremonials:
My own secret ceremonials
- And in "Between Two Lungs":
"Between two lungs it was released
A breathe that passed from you to me"
- And in "I'm Not Calling You a Liar":
"There's a ghost in my lungs / and it sighs in my sleep"
- AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle: In "Spect...rum".
- And I Must Scream: Nearly word for word in "Bird Song"
I opened my mouth to scream and shout,
I waved my arms and flapped about.
But I couldn't scream and I couldn't shout,
couldn't scream and I couldn't shout.
- Anti-Love Song: Take your pick:
- "Blinding", "Kiss With a Fist", "Leave My Body" are three examples
- "Heavy In Your Arms".
I love you never felt like any blessing
- Art Deco: Seems to be the general look for the Ceremonials album.
- Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny! In interviews, at least.
- "Hello! I'm Florence + the Machine, I'm in a park, and I can safely say that the squirrels and pigeons are terrifying. I found a stick to beat them away. I might also use it as a drumstick but I haven't decided yet..."
- "So yeah, I think - Oh my God, I just saw this massive spider! It's just there. Hello little guy! He's just waiting, like, he can hear me, he stopped. Um, anyway enough about you. What were you saying? Sorry, I got distracted."
- Author Appeal: According to Word of God, Florence loves the subject of drowning. Mentioned by description in "Ceremonials" linear notes, she's fond of the jumping off the edge and "enveloping" feeling which drowning often described as being. This is said to be similar to her relationship to music.
- Drowning turns up in "Drumming Song", "Swimming", "Heavy In Your Arms", "What the Water Gave Me", "Never Let Me Go", and "Heartlines", along with being alluded in the music video for "Rabbit Heart". It's implied in "Hurricane Drunk".
- Audience Participation Song: "You've Got the Love", "Never Let Me Go", "Dog Days Are Over", "Rabbit Heart", "Shake It Out", "No Light, No Light",
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The music video for "Drumming Song" features two blonde and two brunette backup dancers. As for the redhead...does it have to be said?
- Cloudcuckoolander: Florence displays a random streak in interviews.
- Creator Breakdown: Lungs and Ceremonials have come from Florence breaking up with the same guy twice.
- Deadpan Snarker: Florence, again. When someone asked what she'd do to celebrate winning a BRIT award, she said, "I'll do laundry."
- Department of Redundancy Department: "A falling star, fell from your heart..."
- Disproportionate Retribution: "Girl With One Eye";
She tolds me not to step on the cracks / I told her not to fuss, and relax
Pretty little thing stopped me in my tracks / And now she sleeps with one eye open
- Does Not Like Shoes: Performing barefoot in concerts and music videos is one of Florence's trademarks.
- Drowning My Sorrows: "Hurricane Drunk".
- Driven to Suicide: "Hurricane Drunk":
I'm going to drink myself to death
- What The Water Gave Me alludes to Virginia Woolf's suicide.
I'll let the water take me
- Early Installment Weirdness: Because of a change in her sound to the one she became famous with, the indie rock-esque "Kiss with a Fist" has become this. The recording that appears on Lungs is almost identical (or is) to the one that appeared on her 2008 debut single.
- Echoing Acoustics: Lots of reverb is used in the tracks "Never Let Me Go" and "Leave My Body".
- Everything Is an Instrument:
- "Are You Hurting the One You Love" features drumming on pots and pans.
- Apparently the next album will use the sounds of their instruments burning- they caught fire where they were being kept.
- The alternative version of "Girl With One Eye" is called the "Bayou Percussion Version" and has the sound of breaking glass at the end.
- Eye Scream:
- "Girl With One Eye."
- The video for "Cosmic Love" has a ball of light float to Florence. It hits her in the eyes and she screams. When she opens them, her eyes are sparkling, like stars.
- Which is quite interesting because in the song she states that the star made her blind:
A falling star fell from your heart and landed in my eyes
I screamed aloud, as it tore through them, and now it's left me blind
- Follow Your Heart: "Heartlines" and "Shake It Out".
- Gorn : Many of the songs on Lungs contain quite gory/violent lyrics. Notable examples would be "Dog Days Are Over" , "Girl With One Eye", "Kiss With A Fist", and "Howl".
- Green Eyes: Florence has a creative and mysterious pair.
- Grief Song: "Never Let Me Go" and "Heavy In Your Arms"
- Heartbeat Soundtrack: "Cosmic Love", especially in the music video.
- Human Sacrifice: "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)" is about sacrifice but not really taking a life. If anything she is referring to how artists have to sacrifice their image and style (that being what her label wanted her to do). The song is also about her fears.
"I'd written all these dark songs, and the label suggested we should have something that was a bit more upbeat. In the process of trying to do that, I realised maybe I was sacrificing something. So I had a really upbeat piano and drums, but the lyrics that came out were 'This is the gift/It comes with a price/ Who is the lamb/And who is the knife?' The rabbit heart is a reference to fear. I'm so afraid of what's about to happen. Of being in the spotlight."
- Kill It with Fire: "Seven Devils"
and no rivers and no lakes, can put the fire out
I'm going to raise the stakes,
I'm gonna smoke you out...
- I Am the Band:
- Before her backing band settled down to a more or less stable lineup, The band was (and probably still is) basically "Florence, and whatever backing musicians are on hand at the time" - sometimes it was members of the Test Icicles or Noah and the Whale or maybe her some of her musician friends or sometimes lucky concert goers.
- Originally she performed with an actual drum machine for backing.
- Incredibly Long Note: "No Light, No Light", at the end of the bridge, which is usually replicated live with a combination of circular breathing and modifying the microphone.
- Intercourse with You: "Bedroom Hymns", "Strangeness and Charm".
- Leave No Witnesses: "Bird Song":
"I picked up the bird and above the din, I said "That's the last song you'll ever sing
Held him down, broke his neck, taught him a lesson he wouldn't forget."
- Lyrical Cold Open: "Kiss with a Fist", "I'm Not Calling You a Liar", "Cosmic Love", "Falling", "Addicted to Love", "Bird Song", and "Shake it Out".
- Lyrical Dissonance:
- "Hurricane Drunk", which is a delightfully happy song. The first lines of the chorus are "I'm going out/I'm gonna drink myself to death."
- Florence said "Dog Days Are Over" is about being destructively happy, and the lyrics strongly imply that whoever the song is about is trying to avoid this happiness.
"Struck from a great height/By someone who should have known better than that?"
- Florence Lampshaded this when she explained how "Rabbit Heart" came to be.
I’d written all these dark songs, and the label suggested we should have something that was a bit more upbeat. In the process of trying to do that, I realised maybe I was sacrificing something. So I had a really upbeat piano and drums, but the lyrics that came out were, ‘This is the gift/It comes with a price/ Who is the lamb/And who is the knife?
- In "Ceremonials", "Breaking Down" has an upbeat rhythm, yet its lyrics implies insanity on the subject's part.
- Further stated verbatim in the Track By Track in regards to this song.
- "Lover To Lover" describes the subject metaphorically descending to Hell, while having an uplifting soul vibe.
- "Kiss With a Fist" has an 80's rock tone, with lyrics describing a couple violently in love, to the point many critics thought the song was about domestic abuse.
- On the other hand, the original version of "Kiss With a Fist", called "Happy Fist", was faster and more maniac. In the middle of the song, Florence is clearly fighting back laughter, further adding to the overly happy yet quite violent song.
- An earlier version of "Swimming" had more of an indie rock tone, while the final version averts this.
- In "Ceremonials", "Breaking Down" has an upbeat rhythm, yet its lyrics implies insanity on the subject's part.
- Masochism Tango: "Kiss With A Fist": "You hit me once, I hit you back / You gave a kick, I gave a slap / You smashed a plate over my head, then I set fire to our bed".
- Masquerade Ball: The music video for "Shake it Out" takes place during a 1920s masked ball, complete with masks.
- Murder Ballad: "Heavy In Your Arms" seems to be from the perspective of a woman whose boyfriend drowned her in a river.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Drumming Song", "Cosmic Love", "Blinding", "Bird Song".
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Or "Chamber pop goth stomp, crossed with a choir of nuns being thrown down the stairs" in Florence's own words!
- The Ophelia: This seems to be invoked and more than a few lyrics refer to drowning.
- Obsession Song: "Dog Days Are Over", "Drumming Song", "Remain Nameless".
- Overly Long Name: Florence Leontine Mary Welch.
- Precision F-Strike: in her Track By Track she calls "Lover to Lover" a "Fuck You"-like song.
- Pimped-Out Cape: While singing "Shake It Out" on The X Factor, Florence wore a dress with six white capes held in place. She didn't move around a lot.
- Record Producer: Paul Epworth (probably best known for Florence's own "Cosmic Love", "Howl", "Rabbit Heart", and "Blinding" from Lungs as well as Adele's "Rolling in the Deep") produced the entirety of Ceremonials.
- Repurposed Pop Song: "Dog Days Are Over".
- "Howl" has also been repurposed for a car commercial, of all things.
- Rerelease the Song: "Dog Days Are Over".
- Refrain From Assuming: "Spectrum" is the real title of that song. It is not called "Say My Name" no matter what urges the song gives you to say it is that.
- The Calvin Harris remix of "Spectrum" is called "Spectrum (Say My Name)".
- Rewatch Bonus: "Spectrum" music video has some lighting and other shots and a story which are slipped in and not essentially obvious first time round.
- Rearrange the Song: The live version of "What The Water Gave Me" features elements of the released demo. There's also an added Epic Instrumental Opener, sometimes adding a full minute to songs already over 5 minutes.
- Sanity Slippage Song: "What The Water Gave Me", "Dog Days Are Over", "Hurricane Drunk", "Seven Devils", "Kiss With A Fist", "Breaking Down", "Lover To Lover", "Bird Song", "Falling", and "Swimming".
- Subverted with "Leave My Body" which is about her wanting to lose her mind in her own singing and music in general.
- Say My Name: Spectrum; Up to Eleven.
- Self-Backing Vocalist:
- On many of the tracks on her albums, Welch is one of the backing vocalists. In a few cases, she is the only backing vocalist and her voice has been overdubbed to create a chorus of one....eg "Leave My Body".
- An earlier case is in "Rabbit Heart". Word of God claims that the person who mixed the chorus had a nervous breakdown.
- Signature Song: "Dog Days are Over" and "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)"
- She's Got Legs: as evidenced by the video for "Drumming Song".
- In 'Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)' she uses a line that was originally in a Gang Gang Dance song-
How quickly the glamour fades
- The song also asks if that was "the wrong pill to take".
- Also considering that the melody is similar to the aforementioned song it also counts as Sampled Up.
- "Howl" includes a couple of lines from the 1941 Wolf Man movie. It works really, really well thematically.
- "Kiss with a Fist" has several references to setting a man's bed on fire in retaliation for violence.
- "What the Water Gave Me" refers to the painting by the same name made by Frida Kahlo. It also alludes to Atlas and Virginia Woolf's suicide:
"Pockets full of stones."
- "Rabbit Heart" incorporates a lot of Pre-Raphaelite imagery.
- The music video of "Shake it Out" alludes to Eyes Wide Shut and The Great Gatsby, among other works.
- "Shake It Out" borrows a line, a la "Rabbit Heart": "it's hard to dance with the devil on your back" is borrowed from the original "Lord of the Dance" hymn (yes, that Lord of the Dance).
- The Spectrum music video's ballet dancers use the same head covering devices used in Swan Lake and has a few visual's from Black Swan and certain mythological beliefs. (Greece this time)
- The Something Song: "Drumming Song." Also a Non-Appearing Title. "Bird Song" fits this as well.
- Something Something Leonard Bernstein: "Seven Devils" final verse is;
Something something Up, Tear the walls
Something something Heart something something Soul
something something enough, something something eagle
something something soar...
- Statuesque Stunner: Almost six feet tall, and displays it quite well.
- Silly Love Songs: "All This and Heaven Too", "Spectrum", "Between Two Lungs".
- Singing Voice Dissonance: She whispers softly soprano when she talks, but her voice is extremely powerful and a deep strong alto.
- Surreal Music Video: There's a few of them.
- The original "Dog Days Are Over" video.
- The 2010 version of "Dog Days Are Over" retains the surrealism with a New Age vibe.
- The Stars Are Going Out: In "Cosmic Love": "The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out."
- Stalker with a Crush/Obsession Song: Remain Nameless, and that insane devotion they are known for.
- Subdued Section: The bridge of "Dog Days Are Over" and "Cosmic Love".
- Talking to the Dead: Florence explained that the song "Only If For a Night" is about talking to her dead grandmother in a dream.
- Tranquil Fury: "Seven Devils" could be seen as being about this, the soft but slightly creepy musical structure and threatening lyrics indicate this.
I had to blow, your kingdom down
I'm going to raise the stakes, I'm gonna smoke you out
It's a battle cry
- Title-Only Chorus: "Howl" and "You've Got The Love".
- Terrible Ticking:
- There's a drumming noise inside my head, and it starts when you're around...
- And in my dreams began to creep that all familiar "tweet, tweet, tweet..."
- Three Minutes of Writhing:
- The video for "You've Got The Love".
- And also "Drumming Song".
- Unplugged Version: Their Unplugged MTV sessions
- Updated Rerelease: "Lungs" was re-released and updated with a 12 track additional disk and linear notes in late 2010.
- Voodoo Doll: The man in the music video for "No Light, No Light" uses one on Florence, making her jerk around on top of a skyscraper before falling off.
- What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic:
- It's easy to misconstrue her lyrics to having religious themes, as she often refers to Heaven, Hell, the devil and angels.
- "Drumming Song" is chocked full of sexual imagery, and religious imagery. The video even takes place in a church, and there's a case to be made that the backup dancers are angels. Or devils. Or just hallucinations.
- Bedroom Hymns
- The performance of "Shake It Out" on The X Factor used lots of religious imagery, from Florence's dress to the background to a gospel choir.
- The music video for "No Light, No Light" takes it farther than "Drumming Song", using Christian, Voodoo, and Illuminati imagery.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Florence dons a suit in the original "Dog Days are Over" video.
- A Worldwide Punomenon: The title of "Strangeness and Charm" is already a play on words. However, in the pre-chorus:
Atom oh atom, oh what's the matter with me, love?
- Younger Than They Look: She's 25, but looks about ten years older; it's a bit difficult for some people to wrap their head around.