Alternative rock singer and writer Mitski is known for making emotionally intense songs with lyrics that keep you hooked long after the song is done playing.
"I Bet On Losing Dogs" is a great example of a track that really resonates with listeners who may be taking several different things away from the track.
And, of course, Mitski's sweet voice crooning on the mic causes the song to seep even deeper into one's feelings when played while emotional.
Is the song describing a failed relationship? Does the song talk about unfaithfulness in a relationship? Is Mitski the one telling the story, or is there more than one perspective happening here?
Why does the song feel strangely terrible and wonderful at the same time?
This track is one of the few songs written in a major key that is meant to also feel draining and depressing. And boy, does it pull this feeling off well, thanks to the chord structure, the sweet backing vocals, and the slow tempo that is kept up throughout.
Not only that, but if you aren't paying much attention to the lyrics, you could mistake this song for a straightforward love ballad. But once you start to dig deeper into the lyrics, you realize that there is a lot of pain behind them.
The bridge, in particular, features an amazingly energetic key change to an even higher major key, giving off a sense of euphoria and bliss.
Then, the chords get a bit funky in the middle of the bridge, changing that euphoria to a slightly augmented feeling of insanity.
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Betting on losing dogs is an expression describing the process of backing someone in a situation where you know the outcome will be negative.
In the second section of her song, Mitski expresses that she wants to be right beside her losing "dog," where the person represents a dog fighting and losing in a race or ring.
I bet on losing dogsI know they're losing and I'll pay for my placeBy the ringWhere I'll be looking in their eyes when they're downI'll be there on their sideI'm losing by their side
She talks about how she wants to be there for the loser, looking into their eyes as they go down and suffer their losses. With this and the later lyric that says, "I wanna feel it," you can imagine that there is some sense of masochism in play here.
The final lines in the lyrics really make the lyrics a bit more complex, as she explains that she always goes back to this losing dog once she's doing fine, as if it's a toxic relationship that she just can't let go of.
After that, she briefly touches on liking the feeling of her "losing dog" looking over her after sexual pleasure. As if that gives her some form of peace.
She wants that feeling, and she professes that she wants to witness the feeling of her lover watching her die. In this instance, this death can be described as the "little death", which is a euphemism that translates to sexual orgasms.
I wanna feel itI bet on losing dogsI always want you when I'm finally fineHow you'd be over me looking in my eyes when I comeSomeone to watch me die
So, in my interpretation, she wants her failure of a lover to see her orgasmic moment in the same way that she sees her failure of a lover losing in a dog fight.
With this information, it affirms that her betting on losing dogs is a form of masochism where she enjoys seeing, rooting for, and being with someone who is a failure.
Have you ever been in a situation that is toxic, yet alluring at the same time to the point where you don't want to leave?
As with many songs that hit people right in their emotions, many different fans have been able to interpret this song in many different ways, depending on what their life experiences have brought them.
There are some lines that suggest that on top of Mitski going after failed relationships, she is also finding pleasure in being the other woman or the sidekick, and that is why she is referring to this person as a losing dog.
The song's opening lyrics include the lines "Baby, my baby. Tell your baby that I'm your baby". This could be a bit of a toxic line that alludes to the fact that she's going after someone who has another partner, and she wants to take over.
My baby, my babyYou're my baby, say it to meBaby, my babyTell your baby that I'm your baby
Sounds a little desperate, right? In this train of thought, I want to visit the lyrics, "I know they're losing, and I'll pay for my place. By the ring Where I'll be looking in their eyes when they're down. I'll be there on their side. I'm losing by their side."
She could be highlighting the fact that she is on the side of the ring because she is the side chick.
She could further be saying that she likes being the side chick to guys in relationships that are falling so that she can be there when they "lose" or break up.
According to a post on Reddit, one user said that they always thought the song had two different narrators and that at the very end, where the lyrics get sexual, the perspective also changes.
TheMoozeK says, "I think that Mitski actually changes the point of view in her song. The first stanzas and chorus are actually Mitski's lover, and Mitski is the losing dog. Why her lover seems to be obsessed with her suffering, I'm not sure."
In general, the overall feeling of fighting for someone that you know isn't good for you is something that many people can relate to, and not just in romantic relationships.
In a popular Youtube comment for the song, one user wrote, "The baby part hits too hard. tell your “baby” that I’m your baby. You always chose the men over me, mom."
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Writing a sad song like "I Bet On Losing Dogs" in a major key can be an interesting and effective way to create emotional depth and complexity that I enjoy and encourage as a songwriter myself.
Contrast in Lyrics and Melody:
Use melancholic or reflective lyrics that convey sadness or heartbreak. Contrast the sad lyrics with a relatively uplifting melody in a major key. This creates a bittersweet or ironic emotional effect.
Unique Chord Progressions Or Key Changes:
Experiment with chord progressions that evoke a sense of yearning or introspection. Minor chords can be strategically inserted within a major key progression to add depth.
Write lyrics that are open to interpretation, allowing listeners to project their own emotions onto the song. This ambiguity can enhance the emotional impact.
Tempo and Rhythm:
Opt for a slower tempo to allow the emotions to linger. A moderate or slow tempo often complements sad themes. Experiment with rhythmic patterns to add complexity to the arrangement.
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