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Katie Melua’s

The flood
A Stylistic Analysis
The Title: Katie Melua is known for her eccentric songs that are very much different
from what we are used to. “The Flood” is also one of her eccentric songs. Looking at the
title we immediately get an impression that this song is different, “the flood” certainly
doesn’t seems like a usual or common title and hence we also expect something different
from the song as well. In the context of the song Flood is a metaphor for the changes that
we experience in our lives, loss of our possessions, beliefs and ideals. However taken out
of the context of the lyrics of the song the title “the Flood” represents the natural disasters
or something immensely destructive, uncontrollable and catastrophic which in turn also
implies greater change although at a much broader level.

Analysis: The songs comprises of simple lyrics which if only seen as text the lyrics are
some what lacking rhythm and musicality, the lyrics are more like simple sentences
broken into pieces. However the lyrics can be regarded as Blank Verse because of the
presence of some musical elements in the verses. All these characteristics are usual for
the lyrics written for songs because in songs the musicality comes from the voice, the
music and the way the song is sung.

The voice in the song is certainly that of a “Preacher”, some one warning for the future.
In the video as well Katie herself is posed at the centre of the sun, knowing and
predicting and therefore warning.

The first part of the song is a monolog. It sounds as a speech of someone who searches.
Some one who has lost something very dear and important like a belief or an Ideal. In the
first stanza the line “sometimes we are thrown off our pathways” certainly represents the
inevitable change that is the most implicit theme of the song. “What I thought was my
way home……wasn’t the place I know” loss, pain, disappointment are the impressions we
get from these lines.
In the second stanza we see a shift from loss to acceptance, surrender to the unavoidable,
of taking things as they come. It is more of a reasoning to explain the loss: “what we own
becomes our prison” a sense of being bound and limited is conveyed with this line and
the lines that follow “my possessions will be gone…..came from” also convey an
impression of the temporary nature of life where nothing but change persists.
After this the chorus lines come “blame, no one is to blame” here again we see surrender
and acceptance. A cry of surrender….”here comes the flood again”. In the song the Katie
sings these lines in very mournful tone reinforcing these ideas.

The second part brings an absolutely beautiful refrain. The fourth stanza “see the rock
that you…..” puts a question in front of us, the reality of our lives, beliefs and goals. What
we have and what we believe in may prove useless when the time comes. We cling to our
beliefs, our ideals…what if we shun them let ourselves be carried away by the change,
the flood, the inevitable.
The last part of the song presets us with some hope, salvation. In letting one’s inner self
guide one can actually find a way to cope with changes, losses and failures. There is a
possibility of life in abandoning what appears important apparently and finding one’s
inner self.
The first and second part is like water slowly accumulating before exploding into a
massive wave that crash, the different voices representing her(the singer; Katie ) trying to
breathe amidst all the water/emotional baggage pouring over her. When she finally
emerges free she's cleansed but as the refrain goes. The Flood is a liberal song. As such,
it may push toward balance those people who are too rigid, and deepen the imbalance of
those who are too submissive. Katie being a woman is a plus for the role of a messenger
who delivers a relaxing/submissive message. She says let go, don't hold on to things,
don't blame, don't be afraid to change, leave the prison of your senses and logic (eyes and
mind). A flood is coming to wash away the things that imprison you, open yourself to it.
In the video, Katie represents the Source, or God. It is the Source of everything, black
and white, backward and forward, including the men whose arms emerge out of it. The
men are ordinary people who are rigid, limited, and this makes them uncompromising,
fearful and aggressive. But they worship their God, or at least what they imagine as God.
And now the God is coming, it is coming as a flood that washes away the rigid things and
dissolves limitations. In the last scene, confrontation gives way to reconciliation.
The song has somewhat irregular structure as far as the structure of the lyrics is
concerned. In the first part there are two stanzas of four lines each and then there is the
chorus part of three lines: “blame, no one is to blame…..again”. The second part
comprises of a stanza of for lines and the chorus part. The last part is composed of eight
lines with two stanzas of four lines each, after this the song ends with the chorus part. It is
also worth noticing that in the first two parts of the song every first line of the stanza is a
lengthier one and the next lines either elaborate or support the idea presented in the first
line.
As for the thematic structure first we are presented with what seems like past, moving on
to present and a hope and warning for future i.e. the conclusion off course.
The song has a very limited although extensively allusive imagery. Only few concrete
images like that of rain, flood and rock are used, and these also serve the purpose of
metaphors. However these images are used to convey very different concepts than the
conventional one associated with these images. The rain which is mostly associated with
blessing and with romantic atmosphere in songs especially is here used to convey a sense
of disaster, of turning one’s hope into failure, of a bounty into a curse. The use of flood
for representing both change and failure is an unconventional one and a much
exaggerated one at that, flood something tangible and immensely destructive is used to
represent the some what intangible failures of life. Rock is used a symbol of the supports
we hold on to in our lives, though rock is used in this context in the religious writings e.g.
the Bible but its use in a song is an unusual one, but the song itself is an unusual one at
that.
The language used (as is convention in most of the songs) is a simple one. The sound of
the song i.e. the music and the tone in which Katie ha sung the song reinforce the
message of the song. The song is a thought provoking one and not a soothing, calming
one.
The Flood was released in 2010. At its time of release the talk of Armageddon and the
idea of the earth being destroyed by the 2012 has become common both through the
Hollywood movie 2012, Supernova etc. and the television dramas as well as
documentaries and especially the predictions that the Mayan belief system has given. We
must not also forget that at this time Pakistan was trying to survive of the worst floods in
the Subcontinent’s history. The Japanese Tsunami and earthquakes and the nuclear break
downs are the recent examples of the increased amount and intensity of natural disasters
and calamities hitting the planet. The talk earth crumbling and life ending is increasingly
becoming a theme in the media productions of every kind “The Flood” being one of
these.
The Biblical Great Flood and Noah’s saving ship is worth mentioning here. The great
flood destroyed every single thing on earth and nothing except that in Noah Ship
survived. Katie’s “The Flood” some how reminds of that as well as warning us about
some great destruction approaching the human world. At times like this when life’s safety
is threatened and one’s only hope is to find the inner peace and truth.

……………………………………………..
A Little on Katie Melua
And “The Flood”

Katie Melua is a Georgian-


British singer, songwriter and
musician. She moved to
Northern Ireland at the age of
eight and then to England at
fourteen. In 2006, she was the
United Kingdom's bestselling
female artist and Europe's
highest selling European female
artist.

“The flood” is from Katie’s fourth


album “The House”, the house
was released on 24 May 2010.
“The Flood” was the most
scoring song of the house on
music charts.