Hailaker’s “M3” is a Breakup at the Pace of a Summer Drive

As I was zipping along in the pop ride that is Hailaker’s “M3,” the song’s title hardly occurred to me.

I must confess, I had no idea what “M3” was supposed to mean, and I possibly still don’t. But I investigated.

The all-knowing Interwebs showed me photos of a slick 2024 BMW “M3”—silver, green, red, take your pick!—and I thought, Oh, this song does have a sleekness and a motor and some backseat innuendo. The pre-chorus (or chorus, depending on how we want to discuss the structure of this song) begins with the lyrics:

Come and take a drive to a place I like

Where the songwriter’s muse, presumably a paramour, can “lap it up” and “feel the rush.” I mean, this is what cruising is all about, right?

And how about the song’s aforementioned motor. It revs up with a gauzy synth sound of some sort, and then the beat drops, electronic bass drum and some finger snaps to lay out a danceable four-on-the-floor—perhaps I overextend my conceit by comparing it to leisurely pistons pumping away. An arpeggiated guitar line provides further gentle motion, like the soft hum and whoosh of a high-performing vehicle, and a big round bass reminds us where the rubber meets the road.

This is the propulsion system of the song, smooth and consistent until the ethereal choruses (or bridges, depending on how we want to discuss the structure of this song).

That ethereal quality is also present throughout in the vocals—delicate, high pitched, and layered—as they tell elliptically of (I presume) a doomed romance. The singer/narrator opens with a commanding admission.

Scald me like you know me
When you’re alone with someone new

It’s an invitation to burning vulnerability that practically contains its own betrayal. And so our singer/narrator is left “with nothing,” complaining, “Man, you fucked me,” a phrase surely deployed in both senses here.

Yet immediately the song hits the accelerator as the vocal phrases come in quick succession and the singer/narrator says, as noted above, “come and take a drive to a place I like.” Why continue down this road if it is clearly “not everlasting”? The lyrics don’t necessarily contain the answer, but the mood of the song does. Humans enter these ill-fated, sometimes recursive and recurring trysts because of how they make us feel, because of insistent appetites and, dare I say, drives.

And maybe also because, much as we long for trust and commitment, the ideal of “everlasting” isn’t quite the right one.

And then the song hits the brakes and the voice soars even higher, as if propelled right through the windshield, but in slow motion, shards of glass floating all around. “I’m so out of it,” the singer intones, tired but also out of body, transcendent. Yet inevitably there is a comedown, and the singer doesn’t “want to lay here . . . relieved but . . . not proud.” All the compromises for pleasure have been made: feeling like you “can’t breathe” follows on the heels of feeling “free.”

And then the music/motor kicks back in with the clarity of insight: “I know that you’re not everlasting.” Let’s call this the bridge or hook of the song, for “I know” repeats, as if the singer is trying in vain to be convinced by his own words, insights, experiences. The refrain itself aspires to be everlasting even as the singer knows that patterns, hopes, desires, revelations, and disappointments are, like the presumed paramour of the song, “bound to leave.”

And here is where the lover’s lament starts to feel like an existential plea.

Why live, why love, why learn, when none of it is everlasting? The second verse hints at this feeling.

I could be happy
But I’ll just do nothing
So lose me if you want

And so when the pre-chorus returns, it’s that much more important to take that drive. It’s the thing itself, the drive, the motion to connect and to be—the “fire” and the “flutter”—that fends off the worst aspects of stillness, of aloneness. The singer confesses “not trying to hide . . . like I’d mastered love.” This is an excuse to brace against the inevitable end of the relationship—or tryst or hookup or whatever—and it is an appeal based on shared imperfections.

But it is also a way of admitting an inability to completely accept a good thing. Whether on existential grounds or emotional ones, this inability haunts many a human and always has, and one gets the impression that Hailaker hopes that it is not “everlasting.”

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