The Meaning Behind boygenius’ Grammy Nominated “Not Strong Enough”

What’s better than one sad core pop singer? Three sad core pop singers.

Videos by American Songwriter

boygenius is the combined strength of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus. Each artist has made a name for their unique songwriting voice, deep emotion, and melancholy slant. Putting them together under one project should prompt an immediate depressive spiral. Nevertheless, despite the somber tones, the end result is a celebration of all the things that make us human—sadness, anger, regret, pain, love, and heartache.

Their debut album, the record, spawned a number of memorable tunes, but few have found more success than “Not Strong Enough.” The track has earned 2024 Grammy nods for Record of the Year, Best Rock Song, and Best Rock Performance. All of which are more than merited.

Below, find an analysis of the meaning behind this buzz-worthy track.

[RELATED: Grammy-nominated Boygenius Tell What it Means to Get the Band Back Together]

Behind the Meaning

The way I am
Not strong enough to be your man
I tried, I can’t
Stop staring at the ceiling fan and
Spinning out about things that haven’t happened
Breathing in and out

While it’s usually welcomed when someone takes responsibility for their actions, sometimes the apology can seem a little self-serving. That’s the concept boygenius expounds upon here.

The song seems to be written from the perspective of someone else, but according to the band, it’s at the same time introspective as outward-looking.

“We talk about this all the time,” Bridgers explained in a Genius interview. “The type of guy – non-binary term – who’s like ‘You don’t want any part of this.’ I think we’re all guilty at some point in our lives of being like, ‘I couldn’t possibly be accountable to another human being.’ Well, the whole point is that it’s a little bit hard!”

The line I lied, I am / Just lowering your expectations sums up the toxic relationship this song is trying to convey. According to the trio, apologies and self-hatred are just a roundabout way to get what you want out of a relationship. It’s all just smoke and mirrors pointed away from the actual problem: a fear of commitment.

In the bridge, the group further illustrates the power imbalance being in a relationship with someone with this mindset can cause. Always an angel, never a god, they sing in a building refrain. The line explores both the god-like complex this type of person exhibits (“Self-hatred is a god complex sometimes,” Bridgers further explained in the Genius interview) and the lesser function the other person would take on in the relationship because of it.

boygenius has many songs about relationship issues, but this is by far one of the most unique. This concept has been seldom explored. Leave it up to this trio to walk down the thematic road less traveled.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella

Leave a Reply

Dave Grohl Joins Daughter Violet for a Performance of Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box” and Foo Fighters’ “Show Me How”