• Julia Adrien

Track Review - "Babysitter" by Tobacco Feat. Trent Reznor

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Hey kids, Tobacco and Trent Reznor are our new babysitters. And they’re taking us to the haunted bounce castle.

This song is so good, like make-your-day good. It’s fun, it’s raw, and the fact alone that Tobacco and Reznor are collaborating is awesome.

Now, I don’t know which parts of this track Trent Reznor worked on aside from the obvious (his vocal cameo). But if I had to guess, I’d say he had a hand in the mastering. The distortion is cranked up even an extra notch from Tom Fec (Tobacco)’s usual stuff.

Meanwhile, the lyrics are textbook Tobacco, which is to say they’re weird, abstract vignettes peppered with themes of mysticism and gross-ness. Tobacco is a really underrated lyricist. In the world of song lyrics, the number one thing we need is for people to do something different and think outside the box, because how many songs out there—even from supposedly ‘experimental’ arists—have lyrics that are essentially “I love you baby/you drive me crazy/you are the only one/you are so much fun”? That gets old after a while, and Tobacco is one of those people who really does draw outside the lines of lyrical conventions: “I’m the new babysitter/I’m the new babysitter/I’m your babysitter/And I can make time slow down…Keep that secret out my ear/Vous êtes la pire/You're second tier/Light the garbage, leave it burning here/‘Cause you don't charm me charm me charm me, darling.”

Tobacco also has a gift for melody, and this song, like all the rest of his, will be stuck in your head all day, night…hell, probably all week.

On top of all this, I feel like this song is really relevant with regard to quarantine and all that. “I feel like if I heard this 10 years ago I be like damn this is dark. Now with public school closed people be damn this literally my reality” (sic), ‘Kittikillpill’ commented on the track on YouTube. ‘Shelly Humfleet’ replied, “This comment is hilarious because everyone really is the new babysitter these days.” And dovetailing on that point, it really does feel like time has slowed down.

Before I read/thought about other interpretations of the lyrics, my first thought was that this is about a complicated relationship. The protagonist feels like they’re doing everything for their partner, but their partner doesn’t do much in return. Of course, since it’s a Tobacco song, there probably isn’t a very straightforward meaning to uncover at all any more than there is one for “Heavy Makeup” (“You got sick from a lolli lolli lollipop, you feel free when you’re killing me”) or “Warlock Mary” (“I can always find you easy from the gin and the swearing/Couldn’t I remind you girl, you’re the Warlock Mary”). I like the fact that there always seems to be some semblance of a sense of direction, yet his songs are still open to interpretation. “Babysitter” is no exception.

On YouTube and Reddit, fans are calling for a more long-form collaboration between Tobacco and Reznor, and I couldn’t agree more. LISTEN NOW: "Babysitter" by Tobacco feat. Trent Reznor

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