‘The Girl Who Cried Wolf’ is the 11th song from the deluxe edition of 5 Seconds of Summer’s second studio album, Sounds Good Feels Good. Ashton Irwin, Calum Hood, Luke Hemmings and Michael Clifford all had a helping hand in writing the song, along with John Feldmann, who has previously worked with the likes of Good Charlotte, The Used, All Time Low and Panic! At The Disco. ‘The Girl Who Cried Wolf’ is a 5SOS fan favourite, adored by many.
Our initial reaction from hearing this song is how distinctive the sound of it is in comparison to the rest of Sounds Good Feels Good. The emotions that seem to be dominant within the song are despair and confusion. It may sound strange, but the song is quite hazy; it’s dream-like, a kind of limbo between reality and fiction. This can lead us to believe that the song is showing us a distorted perception of reality; not being sure where you fit in.
Something you may not know is that the drum’s in this song were recorded through the slide of a playground. As Ashton played the drums, the microphone inside the slide would pick up the sound.
Before we get started on delving deeper into this song, we would like to state that songs are down to interpretation, and this is just one of them. The meaning we think is behind this song is not fact, and we simply would hope that you enjoy reading it; taking ideas and inspiration from it, possibly looking at the song in a different light to before.
I’m not leaving
This isn’t exactly a verse but we think it’s important to highlight how this is the first proper line you hear, even if it is quite distant and not very clear. “I’m not leaving” sets the direction of the song. It’s quite a comforting lyric where the listener can feel safe, secure and, some might say the most important, reassured. It could be perceived that no matter what you’ve done, or how bad you might feel, that person will not leave you despite the circumstances.
Every time you say to me it’s over, you just wanna start again, it’s just lies, the girl who cries wolf every day, ignored by gravity, but in the end, don’t ask why
This initial verse is introducing us to the song. It’s showing us the contradictions the person in the song is facing; they say “it’s over” but in reality, they “just wanna start again”. It can leave the situation feeling confusing and as though the person isn’t sure what they want. To “cry wolf” is defined as “to give a false alarm”, which links in with the confusing and despairing connotations throughout the song. To continue on from the last point, the verse ends with “but in the end, don’t ask why”. This could mean that since this person is constantly going back and forth between what they want, they’re being seen as giving a false alarm, so there’s no point in asking them why since they might deceive you, whether that’s intentional or not.
You say you wanna, but do you wanna run away? Your great escape, oh yeah, where you going? Always running, find a way to call it quits again
It can be perceived that this song is a one-way conversation with someone or a one-way conversation with yourself. “You say you wanna, but do you wanna run away?” is a contradiction again, like in the above verse. It could even be seen as over-thinking, where you’re questioning everything you do. However, the “where you going?” indicates to us that there is another person who is concerned or confused about the other. The individual in the song seems to be running away from their problems, wanting to escape, but never knowing if it’s the right thing to do or not. “Find a way to call it quits again” links back to the first verse in which they’re wanting to start over constantly as though it’s a reoccurring event.
So look at me in the eye, is anyone there at all? Is anyone there at all? cause I’m not dreaming, so look at me in the eye, is anyone there at all? Is anyone there at all? Cause I’m not leaving
The chorus can be interpreted in two different ways, which we’ve mentioned before; you calling out for someone or to yourself, or someone else calling out to you. The eye is believed to be “the window to the soul”, therefore, looking at someone in the eye should mean you don’t get lied to or deceived. Like mentioned above, “is anyone there at all?” could be a calling out for help, or could be someone talking in the third person, where they’re asking themselves if they’re really there. It may even perhaps be another person asking you if you’re there. The fact that is says “anyone” and not me, or I, or you, suggests that there’s a sense of being lost. This could be that you’re losing yourself and you aren’t entirely sure why. “I’m not dreaming” could link to the point that the song is dream-like. We’ve mentioned previously how the song sounds quite wistful, so obviously stating that they aren’t dreaming could be a way of trying to reassure the person that even in this distorted reality, they’ll still be there for you. Lastly, “I’m not leaving” is the same as what was heard in the beginning, only this time it’s more prominent. Again, this is a reassuring line, it offers a kind of guidance and support, that even if it feels like everyone else is leaving, that they aren’t.
Does it have to be this tragedy? This endless lost parade, a castle of facade of make believe, the truth is spelled out in your eyes, why don’t you just reach out and make it clear to me? What are you telling me?
This verse captures what we mean by the song being dream-like or that of a fairytale. Tragedies are typical in stories, especially classics, like those by Shakespeare. This section starts with a question, furthering the point of confusion and a want to understand. “This endless lost parade, a castle of facade of make believe” gives us very vivid imagery of a hazy, pink parade, leading up to a Disney-style castle. ‘Lost’ tends to be a reoccurring feeling within the song, which contradicts the connotations of a castle, e.g powerful, an achievement. However, a facade is a deceptive outward appearance. Therefore, we can understand that “a castle of facade of make believe” is how the castle is a front, along with the make believe. This continues the point that the song could represent a hazy, distorted reality. “The truth is spelled out in your eyes” infers that they can see what the other person is wanting to say or what they’re feeling, but they need to hear it from them first. Furthermore, the last three lines, “why don’t you just reach out, and make it clear to me, what are you telling me?” suggests that they can see there is a truth among the lies and deception, but they aren’t sure what the truth is, so they need the other person to explain it. Those last three lines have a sense of longing in them like they want to be helpful, but they don’t exactly know how to.
Is anyone there at all? Is anyone there at all? Is anyone there? Is anyone there at all? Look at me in the eye, is anyone there at all? Is anyone there at all? I’m not dreaming, look at me in the eye, is anyone there at all? Is anyone there at all? Cause I’m not leaving
As we’ve already gone over the lyrical meaning of this part above, we’re going to look into the actual sound of this final section. Michael’s vocals in this sounds incredibly hurt and lost. It’s almost like he’s shouting the same words over and over into the void until they can finally get through. The immense amount of repetition gives us the feeling of sincerity. Although the vocals in this are raspy and are near enough shouting, they sound sincere and empty. We can just about picture an individual shouting in a sound-proofed, hazy, light room over and over, knowing no one can hear them, but shouting these same words anyway in hopes someone will hear their call. In the end, it ends with the comforting lyric, “Cause I’m not leaving”. This is the same as the very first lyric we hear at the very beginning, which wraps up the song nicely, and the added “cause” suggests that even if no one is there at that time, then when they’re back, that person will still be there.
‘The Girl Who Cried Wolf’ gives us a realistic view on distorted reality and the fight you have with yourself, which might bring you to have with others. The song ends on “Cause I’m not leaving” which sums up perfectly the theme and concept of the song. Hopefully, you can use this last lyric as a way of finding comfort in the fact 5SOS will always be there for you, and they’ll never leave you, despite everything that may happen in your life.