A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera
Album: Is There Anybody Out There?
Ian Axel and Christina Aguilera face the truth of their relationship in the teary “Say Something.”
A rigid piano opens the single, setting a final tone. The chorus starts the single. He bites his lip and asks her again if she wants to be with him. As she remains silent, he says it’s up to her. She looks down, not meeting her eyes and he responds that he truly loved her and done whatever she asked. He finally tells her if she chooses to not to speak to him, he’s done. (“Say something, I'm giving up on you/I'll be the one, if you want me to/Anywhere, I would've followed you/Say something, I'm giving up on you.”)
He erases her number in his phone and shuts it off. He wonders why he bothered reaching out to her at all. All those years together and she didn’t matter to him at all. He has no idea what went wrong and can’t figure her out. He knows break ups are a part of life. She was his first serious girlfriend. He’ll eventually find love again. From Aguilera’s point of view, she’s ashamed herself. She didn’t how to handle the conversation and avoided it as much as she could. It’s a mistake and next time, she may have the courage to say what she feels. (“And I am feeling so small/It was over my head/I know nothing at all/And I will stumble and fall/I'm still learning to love/Just starting to crawl.”)
In the second chorus, Axel wishes she would’ve been honest with him instead of having him figure it out on his own. She had hoped he thought she was worth it. She cares about him more than he could ever know. It hurts knowing she lost him. (“Say something, I'm giving up on you/I'm sorry that I couldn't get to you/Anywhere, I would've followed you/Say something, I'm giving up on you.”)
He took a chance and decided to be the bigger person. He said what he neded. But he can’t deal with her anymore. She vows to tell him one day he was wrong about her. However, she will always love him and decides to let him go. (“And I will swallow my pride/You're the one that I love/And I'm saying goodbye.”)
In the third chorus, an extra “say something, I’m giving up on you is added. (“Say something, I'm giving up on you.And I'm sorry that I couldn't get to you/And anywhere, I would've followed you/Say something, I'm giving up on you/Say something, I'm giving up on you.”)
At the end both Axel and Aguilera sing “say something."
Axel’s vinegary vocals search for the tiny cuts and slowly says his words, hoping to sting her. He wants nothing more to do with her. He tried everything he could and she preferred to take the easy way out. She made her choice.
Aguilera's teary vocals choke out her words, washing away the acidity. She wanted to say the words but she couldn’t. She knows she’s a coward. But she wasn’t good enough for him anyway. She’s capable of subtlety (“Save Me From Myself” and “I’m OK”). However, her whispering lets her shrink into the background. She deserves better than being a glorified background vocalist.
The touchy “Say Something” benefits greatly from Aguilera’s presence, elevating it from its blameful nature. However, she outright carries the single despite being minimized. A version with only Aguilera would’ve been preferable considering.