Florence Welch never really grabbed me at first. I don’t know why, I appreciated her as an artist, I could tell she had an amazing voice, and ‘Drumming Song‘ was an absolute banger. For some reason though, her music never grabbed me. I vividly remember listening to a lot of the singles from Florence And The Machine’s second record, Ceremonials, mixed together with tracks from Adele’s 21 through the wall of my ex-girlfriend’s bedroom as her sister played the tracks.
That’s how I got exposed to ‘Shake It Out‘, it was a good song, but in my mind, I took a superficial view of the track rather than listening to any meaning it may have had. From a cursory listen, I assumed it was a relatively happy sounding song that was dealing with positivity as the answer to problems. I figured it was just a pretty bland message, and forgot about it.
A couple of years later though, as The Weeknd was beginning to make a name for himself, I came across the remix he had made of this track. The track’s formerly happy-sounding exterior was stripped away, leaving a creepy, skeletal existence to the track. Distorted vocals masked the clarity of the message, and gave the track an ominous, foreboding feeling. Ironically, it was this that lead me to actually look into the song on a deeper level.
As it is, the song tends to relate to the idea of ‘shaking out’ any regrets, or other things that may haunt someone. Numerous references to devils and demons are included, giving the overall positive message of the track a rightful villain that it wins over. The Weeknd’s remix though, he takes Welch’s vocals and twists them into an almost contradictory sound. Rather than good triumphing over evil, Welch sounds as though she is the devil on the opposite shoulder and this time, she’s triumphing. Suddenly the lyrics ‘it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back’ take on a far more sinister tone.