Lizzy McAlpine is a 23-year-old singer-songwriter from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Despite working on music previously, her songs gained a lot of traction on TikTok in 2020. From there, she put out two albums, an EP and is currently headlining a global tour.
Her song “Ceilings” is a personal favorite of mine and sits at about 16 million streams on Spotify. This song exists in its own moment in time, starting off with a hauntingly reminiscent tone and leaving you wondering where the time has gone. Her storytelling immerses you until a captivating twist ending.
The song opens with the lyrics, “Ceilings, plaster. Can’t you just make it move faster?” This beautiful beginning implies that the individual in the song is slowly waiting for time to go by, watching the ceilings to the point of inspecting structural details.
“My shoes are now full of water. Lovely to be rained on with you,” the feeling of wet shoes and being soaked out in the rain is unpleasant, but the notion of being there with this other character makes it seem “lovely.” The protagonist is abandoning comfort for the sake of finding it with this other individual. Everything she is doing is worthwhile because this person is able to be by her side and switch the narrative.
“Then you’re driving me home. And I don’t want to leave. But I have to go.” This reluctance is significant because she is torn between two moments, a theme that comes up more than once in the song. She is stuck between the time she has with this character and everything else that awaits her after their time is up. After describing a kiss the pair share, Lizzy sings, “And it feels like a movie I’ve seen before.”
As a listener, the notion of a past partner or a feeling that this intimate moment evokes in her has a reminiscent tone. There is familiarity in the fleetingness, in the shape this person takes in her life.
The second verse begins with “Bed sheets, no clothes,” which is similar to how the first verse started. In both, she is observing something about the moment she is in, shifting the focus from the room around her to her body that is in the room. She continues with, “Lovely to just lay here with you,” which goes hand in hand with the lyric about rain earlier in the song. Simply being in that individual’s presence is “lovely” to her no matter what they seem to be doing.
The use of the word “lovely” is as light as it is serious, showing a feeling of bliss but also an emotional attachment. Lizzy sings, “You’re kinda cute and I would say all of this. But I don’t want to ruin the moment,” which indicates a confession. Calling someone “cute” is a relatively harmless compliment, but in this context, the word is an admission. She wants to call this other character “cute” and tell them how she feels but she’s worried about “ruining the moment.”
This song is composed of fleeting moments, and Lizzy is caught up in not wanting things to move on. This builds up to the lyrics, “Lovely to sit between comfort and chaos,” this ongoing feeling of bliss and contentment.
Lizzy knows what position she is in; between comfort when it comes to the other person’s presence and chaos when she is vulnerable. The artist is teetering on the line between the comfort of the current situation and the chaos that will ensue if she speaks her mind.
The outro leaves us with the most impactful lyrics, “But it’s not real. And you don’t exist,” talking about the figurative partner she sang about for most of the song. In a turn of events, she was imagining this person, their memory encapsulated in all of the moments she was reminiscing on.
When she sings, “And I can’t recall the last time we kissed. It hits me in the car,” Lizzy brings us back to this person who was never really there. She still has feelings for this past partner even after their time apart.
The chaos she was speaking of previously came from acknowledging that she was lying to herself the whole time. Comfort was imagining this past person and chaos was what would happen if she let herself slip back into the truth.
The word “lovely” being repeated over and over makes sense now because it was all a dream, some sweetened version of the truth. Lizzy doesn’t want things to end because she knows subconsciously that if they did, everything would change.
The concludes with“And it feels like the end of a movie I’ve seen before,” reinforcing the idea we heard earlier in the song. Earlier, Lizzy singing this is something she’s “seen before” could have been interpreted as her reminiscing on a past moment with someone else.
Now it is clear that she feels this way because this actually happened before and she finds herself trying to revitalize this relationship. Lizzy’s songs never fail to amaze me from the captivating lyricism to the interesting production.
“Ceilings” in particular has a captivating production value to it that makes it one of my top songs. The song starts off slow, but as it continues, the situation becomes more distressing and so does the sound. The song opens with a nostalgic melody that encapsulates what it is to be young, and ends with a scared interpretation of reality.
By the outro, the music clashes together and the reveal is made dramatic through the unexpected ending. She has this way with storytelling that makes you follow her words closely when they matter the most. If you have not listened to her songs before, you definitely should give Lizzy a listen!