Now Reading: Conan Gray Drops Surprise Single, ‘Wish You Were Sober’ – An Analysis & Review


Conan Gray Drops Surprise Single, ‘Wish You Were Sober’ – An Analysis & Review

March 18, 20206 min read

Breakout indie-pop star Conan Gray first stole fans’ hearts with his YouTube videos. Now, he’s skyrocketing to stardom. His smash hit, “Maniac,” has gained over 87 million streams worldwide. With anticipation high before the release of his debut album Kid Krow, which will be dropping March 20, Conan has released one final single: “Wish You Were Sober.”


The track is introduced with an echoing of an electronic version of Conan’s voice calling out, “Wish you were so– Wish you were sober.” The word “sober” repeats multiple times before an upbeat electronic beat begins. Conan complains about the state of a party, sounding as though he is speaking to someone directly, saying, “Wish we could dip/Go anywhere but here.” Conan pleads with the subject of the song, asking for less kissing and drugs, and especially for them to not “drink more beer.” 

Plucking electronic beats continue in the background, beneath the electronic beat and Conan’s clear voice. The beat continues to build before it suddenly stops as Conan sings, “But this is definitely not my crowd.” The beat drops with a definite slam. Conan continues listing details of the party, including jumping out of the window before he sings the chorus,  “Take me where the music ain’t too loud/Trade drinks, but you don’t even know her/Save me ’till the party is over/Kiss me in the seat of your Rover/Real sweet, but I wish you were sober!”

The line “wish you were sober” repeats in the same electronic voice and cadence as in the prelude to the track. Conan audibly sounds annoyed, tired of being an afterthought to beer and a girl the subject doesn’t “even know.”


The loud beat of the chorus ceases as the spiraling electronic blips in the background are reintroduced, sounding almost like digital curly q’s. Perhaps mirroring confetti that could fall during the cliche party scenes in tv shows and poppy music video, as Conan shared in a recent interview with Pile Rats, that “Wish You Were Sober” is “just about as ‘big pop’ as you can possibly get.”

Conan sings about walking someone home, being kissed at their door and being begged to stay, before shunning them, declaring, “But I’m over this rollercoaster.” Electronic blips and a new taste of guitar begin as Conan’s voice becomes as electronic as it is during the “wish you were sober” portions of the track. 

Conan sounds over it by this point in the song. Still electric and with a little background behind him, Conan sings, “Honestly you always let me down/And I know we’re not just hangin’ out.” This final line in the verse sounds as though he’s combining a wink and an eye roll. The chorus begins, less of a jaw-drop inducing shock, but more of a repeat of a delightful dance break.


Semi-electronic, semi-vulnerable Conan sings, “I wish” repeatedly before singing “I wish you were sober. This repeats twice before he cuts it off by crying, “Oh! I wish you were sober!” Conan holds the note with little instrumental backing and the chorus comes crashing in around the line. The repetition of “I wish” makes it sound as though he’s drowning in unfulfilled hopes, watered down with cheap beer and overly crowded parties.

Conan never hid his uncomfortableness with the party scene. In the past, he’s written about choosing ice cream over drinking on his hit “Idle Town,” which got him signed. He’s made videos such as “i went to my first college party (it sucked)” where he detailed how completely out of place he felt. On “Wish You Were Sober” Conan combined a finite sense of discontentment with the person he wrote the album about, as well as his exhaustion with that person’s lifestyle.

“Wish You Were Sober” is the song that plays in a coming of age film after the main character completely claims their identity. “Wish You Were Sober” is the sensation of bursting out of a party, onto the front porch and out into the cool night. “Wish You Were Sober” is a breath of fresh air.


You can stream “Wish You Were Sober” everywhere now!


Feature image courtesy of Republic Records

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Helen Ehrlich

Helen Ehrlich is a writer who enjoys politics, music, all things literary, activism and charity work. She lives in the United States, where she attends school. Email her at: [email protected]