Analytical Arrangements: “Atlas: Three”


Rochita Ghosh

[dropcap style=”flat” size=”4″]S[/dropcap]leeping at Last, or his real name, Ryan O’Neal,  is not an artist that follows the standard way of releasing new music. Instead of dropping albums every two to three years, O’Neal goes about his own unique way of releasing songs — simply as they’re done. He’s currently at the tail end of his Atlas: Year 2 project, which is meant to explore the human life.
The project is broken down into different themes titled “Life,” “Senses,” “Emotions,” “Intelligence” and “Enneagram.” After more than two years, O’Neal reached the “Enneagram” theme, which is the thought that human personalities can be summed up in nine different types. O’Neal dropped “Atlas: Three” Feb. 8, centering around the type 3 personality, summarized as the “success-oriented, pragmatic type.”I don’t typically believe in those personality-type quizzes, but they are fun to take. I’m not a three, but O’Neal has a way of taking seemingly simple concepts and transforming them into something beautiful with his lyrics.

Maybe I’ve done enough
And your golden child grew up
Maybe this trophy isn’t real love
And with or without it I’m good enough

I fell in love with the song immediately with the first verse. To me, the introduction sounds like a rejection of trying to be the “perfect person,” being a top varsity athlete and also getting all A’s while maintaining 10 different extracurriculars. It sounds like accepting yourself.

Maybe I’ve done enough
Finally catching up
For the first time I see an image of my brokenness
Utterly worthy of love

[vc_raw_html]JTNDaWZyYW1lJTIwc3JjJTNEJTIyaHR0cHMlM0ElMkYlMkZvcGVuLnNwb3RpZnkuY29tJTJGZW1iZWQlMkZ0cmFjayUyRjZyZXBCU0JMWjU1bFdycXdqVTQ1UjMlMjIlMjB3aWR0aCUzRCUyMjMwMCUyMiUyMGhlaWdodCUzRCUyMjM4MCUyMiUyMGZyYW1lYm9yZGVyJTNEJTIyMCUyMiUyMGFsbG93dHJhbnNwYXJlbmN5JTNEJTIydHJ1ZSUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRmlmcmFtZSUzRSUwQSUzQ3AlM0UlM0NpJTNFTGlzdGVuJTIwYWxvbmclMjBhcyUyMHlvdSUyMHJlYWQuJTNDJTJGcCUzRSUzQyUyRmklM0U=[/vc_raw_html]In this verse, the song shifts slightly in message. It describes the singer messing something up and still accepting themself despite — or in spite — of it. It’s a lovely message that can’t get repeated enough: no one is broken enough to not be worthy of love.

Maybe I’ve done enough

And I finally see myself
Through the eyes of no one else
It’s so exhausting on this silver screen
Where I play the role of anyone but me

O’Neal introduces the idea of seeing one’s self for who they are here. In these lyrics, I see someone looking at themselves in the mirror with tired eyes, alone with their thoughts. There’s no pressure to be someone they’re not here: they can simply be themselves, yet now that they can, they don’t have the strength to.

And I finally see myself
Unabridged and overwhelmed
A mess of a story I’m ashamed to tell
But I’m slowly learning how to break this spell

This verse builds upon the one before it. The picture I see keeps going: the person realizes they’re in over their head. Instead of barely keeping their head above water, they’re taking steps to get out before they drown. These lyrics remind me of beginning recovery, especially with the last two lines. The spell likely refers to the shame the singer feels, but he is trying, at least.

And I finally see myself

Now I only want what’s real
To let my heart feel what it feels
Gold, silver, or bronze hold no value here
Where work and rest are equally revered

This is an obvious reference to the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, currently ongoing, and it’s a nice sentiment. Don’t hold up people on pedestals, do not define people by their achievements, et cetera. While I appreciate what O’Neal was going for here, I don’t feel that the reference is strong enough here. The Olympics are an amazing spectacle of athletes at the top of their game, and additionally are a way to bring nations together. The games have brought together two nations still technically at war, despite their similarities. While his metaphor has a nice thought to it, I don’t think it works as well as O’Neal hoped it would.

I only want what’s real
I set aside the highlight reel
And leave my greatest failures on display with an asterisk
Worthy of love anyway

The song ends quietly, yet powerfully. I do like the reference here O’Neal makes with the highlight reel line, alluding to the quote that’s something along the lines of “Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes with someone’s highlight reel.” It is here that “Atlas: Three” comes full circle, where the singer acknowledges his failures, and still believes he is worthy of love.
At first, I didn’t understand what the song had to do with the Enneagram Three personality, but now I realize it’s a beautiful homage to people that identify as the three type. Threes are meant to be success-oriented, and O’Neal is telling them here that it’s okay to not succeed; regardless of what happens, you’re still loved.
What do you think of the song? Let us know below.