Japanese Breakfast | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist
The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia: “Everybody Wants to Love You” by Japanese Breakfast
Every day leading up to Valentine’s Day this year, The Key is recapping 14 songs that scream “love” just as strongly as they scream “Philly.” The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia continues with “Everybody Wants to Love You” from Japanese Breakfast’s 2016 album Psychopomp.
Chances are, “Everybody Wants to Love You” was one of the first songs you heard from Japanese Breakfast, the project of Philly’s Michelle Zauner. It was released in early 2016 as a single off Psychopomp, her debut album with the project, but it’s origins are a bit deeper — an early version of the song was written with one of Zauner’s old bands, Birthday Girlz, before she decided to repurpose it for Japanese Breakfast. That turned out to be an excellent idea. “Everybody Wants to Love You” the kind of bright, open song that is the catchiest of catchy; you can sing and dance along to it as much as you want, but it also draws you in so intensely that you’ll immediately want to listen to everything else this artist has ever written.
And if you have taken a dive into Japanese Breakfast’s two albums, 2016’s Psychopomp and 2017’s Soft Sounds From Another Planet, you’re familiar with the kinds of themes Zauner gravitates toward. She’s often open about the real-life subjects of her songs, which include her husband-slash-bandmate, and even more frequently her late mother. She doesn’t shy away from baring pain and heartache, and even songs that betray grief, sadness, anger and frustration are also full of great love.
Yet there’s something different about “Everybody Wants to Love You.” It’s a love song of possibility, a two-minute and thirteen-second glimmer of hope. Zauner let a little bit of mystery linger with this one — its lyrics are concise enough that it could be interpreted any number of ways, from the start of an exciting new relationship to a more distant arms-length admiration. Zauner sings with unrestrained joy and a dash of wit, wondering “Will you lend me your toothbrush? Will you make me breakfast in bed? Ask me to get married, and then make me breakfast again?”
It’s a song that needs no answers — Zauner’s songs about her mom led her to write an essay for the New Yorker, but “Everybody Wants to Love You” is nothing like that. It speaks of a fleeting love, but one worth capturing nonetheless. (Oh, and since Michelle Zauner *does* like to explain her songs, she tweeted this in 2017: “Also fun fact: Everybody Wants to Love You was written about my relationship with a woman who has no idea I wrote it for her.” Cue the heart-eyes emojis!!)