There’s something about this song that grabbed my attention at the first listen. Lukas Graham, who, contrary to my (and possibly your) expectations, isn’t just a solo artist, but a Danish pop band named after their lead vocalist, has come under the spotlight with 7 Years, which, if summed up in one line, is a song about the lead singer’s life at different ages, beginning at seven in the first stanza, and ending with sixty in the penultimate one.
The most repeated phrase in the song is “Once I was __ years old”or “Soon I’ll be __ years old”, and this was probably what made me pay attention to the track from the first time, when I could vaguely hear it on the radio while multitasking: I wanted to find out what age the singer stops at next and what he says about it. While this kind of refrain is certainly intriguing, the idea is definitely not original; countless other artists, including Five for Fighting, Taylor Swift and Pink Floyd, have sung about time passing by and growing old in a similar fashion. Lukas Graham doesn’t exactly stand out too much tune-wise either, but yet, the song has some nice little touches. For example, when Graham sings of turning twenty and having his “story told”, the listener can hear a crowd cheering in the background as the band is introduced to perform somewhere. This, as well as the growing passion in Graham’s vocals in the final minute or so of the song is a welcome change after the monotonous chorus (and verses) of the recent Number 1 track, Stitches, or Dakota’s bland vocals in the almost-Number 1 Fast Car remix.
The background music, which mainly consists of a piano and drums, is pleasingly understated in 7 Years, as it should be; the focus is undoubtedly meant to be on Graham’s voice and the lyrics. My concern here lies with the idea that this song is meant to be performed by a band, a band named after the lead singer, with a song focusing on the real life of said lead singer, which, even when singing about experiences involving the band, uses the pronoun “I” and not “we”, a band which gives no focus to any other instrument besides the vocals at any point… really? It’s unfortunately true that most fans of pop bands such as Maroon 5 and Coldplay barely know the rest of the band besides Adam Levine and Chris Martin respectively - Lukas Graham seems to be the unashamed embodiment of this miserable trend.
The lyrics are well-written for the most part and easy to sing along to – certain lines such as “Some I had to leave behind / My brother I’m still sorry” and “Remember life and then your life becomes a better one” may even be memorable. Others such as “Once I was eleven years old / My daddy told me / Go get yourself a wife or you’ll be lonely” just raise questions and eyebrows.
Overall, this song is definitely worthy of being in the charts, but its ranking as a Number 1 single is still debatable. Perhaps, given its competition in these recent weeks, it’s a decent choice – it’s got a pleasant, catchy tune, and yet it manages to cover the melancholy theme of life passing by, and leaves the listener with that feeling. That’s definitely worth something.