Ladytron will release a new album this year! I was part of the Pledgemusic campaign, and I am extremely excited. In preparation for the new album, I’ve recently listened to every Ladytron album. This made me remember a theory: In many Ladytron songs, appears a reoccurring character – the Playgirl. Ladytron portrays the character as tragic at times, but at times we see this character as someone who one should be warned against. We see the Playgirl at different stages of her life. Sometimes, she loves her lifestyle, sometimes she hates her lifestyle. More importantly, The Playgirl in these songs serves as a cautionary tale both to people like her, and people who encounter people like her.
Chapter one: Playgirl
Ladytron’s first full length album, 604, gives us two examples of this reoccurring character in the songs “Playgirl” and “Ladybird.” However, these examples show two different sides of the woman. Let’s begin with “Playgirl.” The song “Playgirl” talks to the woman. This woman, this Playgirl, spends her nights going to clubs, getting drunk and high, and sleeping around. In truth, the song portrays someone who feels like an afternoon special. The point of the song: the speaker wants to show Playgirl that there’s a better life. Mind you, the song does not really condemn the Playgirl’s lifestyle. The speaker just knows that the Playgirl really doesn’t like this lifestyle she leads. The song also acknowledges the Playgirl feels as though she has no other options. She knows no other way than to “sleep her way out of her hometown.” The last verse portrays her as “a foreign coin in a telephone box.” She just doesn’t fit into this life she leads.
Chapter two: Ladybird
Now let’s look at the song “Ladybird.” In this song we see a totally different person. The Playgirl, who now goes by the name “Ladybird,” has aged a few years. She’s engulfed herself in the “Playgirl” lifestyle so much that she’s forgotten why she lives the lifestyle. Oh, but this song is not talking to Ladybird – this song is talking to the guys she seduces. From the song, it sounds as though the Playgirl has no hope left. This is who she is now, and this is who she’ll always be. She might not even remember how just a few years ago, she yearned for a different way. Furthermore, just as men took advantage of her, she now takes advantage of men. She seduces people, and let’s them believe that the two have something special. Sadly, those she seduces find nothing but an empty morning bed. Mind you – I really hate to paint this woman in a bad light, as she’s still a victim. However, victims often times produce other victims. This is why it was so important for the speaker of “Ladybird” to give such a warning. Abuse is a cycle – and Ladybird has come full circle.
Chapter three: Seventeen
Ladytron’s sophomore release, Light & Magic, gave us the dance hit “Seventeen.” The song consists of the same verse repeated over and over: “They only want you when you’re seventeen, when you’re 21, you’re no fun. They take a photograph and let you go, say they’ll let you know, so come on.” The message is clear – youthful beauty fades and the attention you’ll get will not last forever. This song fits into the ongoing story of the Playgirl, serving as a sort of origin story. The future Playgirl is younger here than in any other song. She’s also naive. The future Playgirl likes the attention her beauty gives her and feels as though said beauty and said attention will last forever. She tries modeling – knowing that modeling can be a viable career choice for some. Sadly, she just does not have what they want. Sure, they’ll use her for a few years – but as younger and prettier girls come around, they toss her aside. Modeling does not provide the way out she wants, so she picks up the Playgirl lifestyle.
Chapter four: Beauty*2
Ladytron’s third album, Witching Hour, gave us the tragic song, “Beauty*2.” The Playgirl is older than in any other song, and we hear her own words for the first time. After years of a lifestyle that both played with others hearts, and played with her own heart, she decides she needs to settle with one person. Unfortunately, the person she finds plays around. She may have left her old lifestyle behind, but he still lives said lifestyle. She knows this – and does not seem to care. The (former) Playgirl knows the future: He eventually leaves her. She begs him to take her with him, as his “beauty number 2.” Again, this song is tragic. I feel as though she deserves so much more than she gets. I hope the events of “Beauty*2,” though life shattering, eventually lands her on a path that gives her a loving, caring relationship.
Chapter five: Runaway
Ladytron’s fourth album, Velocifero gives us chapter five of the Playgirl’s story. The events take place most likely in between the events of Playgirl and Ladybird . The song most likely comes from the voice of the parent(s). While the song addresses the Playgirl, the parent(s) address her as though yelling at the sky. The Playgirl cannot be found. She’s found a way out of her hometown. She apparently sleeps in whatever bed that will have her. Her parent(s) just want to know that she’s ok.
Ladytron did not intend these songs to go together. While certain themes repeat themselves, just a quick google search reveals fan sites and other trivia that shoots this theory out of the water. However, I subscribe to the theory that the artists intentions aren’t necessarily the most important. What matters more? What do the actual lyrics say? To me, these songs go together. This also makes me hope we see a new installment in the new album. However, instead of the (former) Playgirl having another tragic song written about her, I want to see her find a person who treats her well. We all deserve love, and besides – I’m a sucker for a happy ending.