A lot of songs about parties are upbeat bangers that encourage listeners to get out on the dance floor. But there's another kind of party song: The one that practically begs you to stay at home and order a pizza instead of going out.
These three songs in particular seem to be ushering in an age of anti-party anthems:
Barnett's song became a kind of physical meme. When I was in London this summer, a good seven months after the release of Barnett's album Pedestrian at Best came out, there were still posters scattered under bridges, proclaiming "Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go To The Party." The chorus of this song is a single repeated line: "I wanna go out, but I wanna stay home," a conflict that any introvert knows all too well. But the real sass of this song is in the second verse, where Barnett sings:
It takes a great deal out of me
Yes I like hearing your stories
But I've heard them all before
I'd rather stay in bed with the rain over my head
Than have to pick my brain up off of the floor
Barnett does an incredible job of marrying an upbeat indie rock beat with the harsh reality of what depression can look like in its smallest moments. "You say you sleep when you're dead/I'm scared I'll die in my sleep/I guess that's not a bad way to go," Barnett sings in the first verse. It's an easy song to listen to, but not an easy one to grapple with.
Steinfeld had her first minor hit this year with the release of her song "Love Myself," a catchy Top 40 hit about masturbation. Shortly after, she released a 4-track EP with one song—"Hell Nos and Headphones"—about hating parties. The party-hating part of the song can be found in the chorus:
Don't want another drink
I just, just wanna be alone
No, I don't care 'bout what you think
I'm going home
Yeah, I'll stick with hell nos and headphones
Steinfeld's song is way more pop than Barnett's, and she's made it to the party, but she doesn't want to be there. Midway through the song, though, she leaves. "Twenty-seven blocks ago /I didn't even say goodbye (ha ha ha)." Her friends are concerned about her: "People blowin' up my phone/Askin' me if I'm alright (ha ha ha)." That "ha ha ha" is striking. Anyone who's ever bailed on a party knows that feeling, the double edge to Steinfeld's slightly sad sing-songy laughter. It's laughter because you’re happy to have left, and laughter because maybe no, you’re not alright.
This is probably the most famous anti-party narrative of 2015. She performed it with Taylor Swift, and it's made a place for itself in the Top 40, but that doesn't make Cara's song any less revolutionary. As a bonafide teenager, Cara sings about not wanting to be at a party that sounds really great. Here are a couple of poignant lines from the first verse:
But really I would rather be at home all by myself
Not in this room
With people who don't even care about my well-being
I don't dance, don't ask, I don't need a boyfriend
So you can, go back, please enjoy your party
The track has an undeniable groove to it. It's totally danceable and would fit perfectly at a good house party, despite its message. But the point is: You can't force fun. You can take a girl to the party, but you can't make her play.
There's a storied history of songs about depression, but most of them are by men: Think James Taylor's "Fire and Rain," or Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression." The songs above are more subtle in their approach and their message, but that doesn't make them any less powerful.
Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.