Thomas Headon is a 19 year old musician from Australia making waves online with his catchy, fun and personal songs. His latest song “Clean Me Up,” written when he was 18, has brought him hundreds of thousands of listeners, and immediately landed him on some of Spotify’s top playlists. “Clean Me Up” really began to gain attention online because of the chorus on TikTok. Thomas explained the background to this virality, “What I’ve recently found to be one of the most fun [apps I use], is TikTok. I used to be forced to use it by my management, but now it’s kinda taken off I feel like I can post content that is absolute pure crap sometimes, but it’s so much fun to wake up and see peoples’ reactions to it. [My] favourite use of TikTok I’ve had is where I literally sat on my bed and put my song ‘Clean Me Up’ over the top and now that video of me JUST sitting on my bed has over a million views.”
“Clean Me Up” opens with Thomas sighing and clearing his throat before immediately beginning to sing “Sometimes my bedsheets smell like you in the morning after,” as a steady single piano key background plays. He continues, “I’m left to fix it on my own when you’re already home/You must’ve left out my window when I was sleeping/And you took my sweatshirt/Along with my feelings.” More keys and a twinkling surging synth are introduced, “My friends keep telling me that I should just probably forget you/It’s not that easy when you’re constantly wearing my clothes/I know the plan was just one night and act like strangers/But I told a lie/’Cause I crossed my fingers.” There is a pause before Thomas speaks the word “awesome.”
The beat drops and a heavier percussional beat begins, along with light twinges of guitar. This part of the songs sounds as though it would be when he would start jumping or dancing if it was being played live. He sings the chorus, “Perfume on the sink/And my breath still smells like drink/I can’t feel my head or think/And I gotta work today/This mess is worse than what I thought/It’s not just clothes thrown on the floor/I’ve done this too many times before/And that’s why I need you to/Clean me up/And that’s why I need you to/Clean me up/And that’s why I need you to/I need you to-”
Thomas explained the background of the chorus to me, “‘Clean Me Up’ was written like four days after I first arrived in the UK from Australia (where I’m originally from). It was my first session I did here in the UK and was with two guys I had only just met. Those two guys were a kid my age called Max Margolis and a producer who works at the studio I go to, Stephen Barnes (both of them are now some of my best friends, I don’t know, I think that’s worth noting). Anyway, [I] went into the session already with the idea of ‘perfume on the sink, my breath still smells like drink,’ thinking of what the morning after you’ve had a night out and a girl comes back to your place looks like. That idea I think is why the song came out to be so descriptive and uses a lot of imagery. That was my original idea writing the song, [I] told it to Max and he came out with some deeper meaning bulls**t about how ‘you need to clean your room, and yourself, but the only way you can do that is if SHE cleans you up.’ Yeah idk either, weird kid. The song really stemmed off that though, and I think that idea is really what we were going for in the music video too.”
Thomas begins the next verse as the intense percussion of the chorus ends. He fleshes out more of the story of the song in this verse, explaining the difficulties between trying to remain casual and attempting to stay pulled together, “My mum keeps telling me to get all my life together/But she doesn’t know you because you only arrive at night/But then you’re leaving when she’s waking up in the morning/I swear she’d love you/If you’d stayed for breakfast,” The audio ends and Thomas can faintly be heard lamenting, “Rough, that was rough.”
After the chorus repeats, Thomas sings, “I still keep my window open for you/I still keep my bedsheets dirty ’cause of you/I still keep your perfume in the bathroom sink/And if you come back please excuse the mess/And don’t touch anything.” The percussion disappears during this portion and nothing but keyboard and his voice is heard. The gentleness of Thomas’ voice in this portion expresses the emotion that Max helped guide Thomas towards, especially as Thomas takes a small pause before almost admitting defeat on the final lyric, “anything.”
Youth and desire to express are both exceptionally clear in this song – a need to express frustration, confusion and romantic interest. The song is upbeat, and young and undeniably poppy. “Clean Me Up” sounds as though it belongs in a teen movie as the protagonist sets out to make changes in their life after seeing the error in their ways. Thomas Headon’s “Clean Me Up” is simply fun.
You can stream “Clean Me Up” here.
Feature image courtesy of Thomas Headon