Dodie’s ‘Hate Myself’ is thoughtful, candid reflection on insecurity

Album art for Dodie single "Hate Myself"
Dodie/Courtesy

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For an artist who used to be known for wearing a cheery yellow, it might be a little surprising that Dodie would have a song titled “Hate Myself.” Yet, for the English YouTuber and indie pop singer-songwriter, mental health has long been a central theme that can be traced through her discography.

Dodie is known for pairing her brutally honest lyrics with lighthearted music, and “Hate Myself” is no exception. The artist, who has been open about her struggles with depersonalization disorder, directly addresses the unhealthy tendency to overthink and self-blame in her latest single. In the chorus’ final line, she gently sings that “When you go quiet, I hate myself,” referring to her tendency to measure her worth by how often others stay in touch with her. She launches herself into a downward spiral, a whirlwind of criticism that grounds itself only in its relatability.

It’s difficult to sugarcoat the jarring phrase “I hate myself,” but Dodie manages to sing it with such tender candor that it’s more pensive than starkly melancholy. She rushes through the chorus softly, words tumbling from her lips in a cascade. Besides adding a memorable rhythm to the song, her speedy delivery of the chorus allows angst to permeate her poetic confession. An ache lurks beneath the song’s thin veneer of serenity, lending it a desperate urgency and shaky instability.

Dodie remains steadily thoughtful as this urgency seeps into her stream of consciousness. The song serves as a running inner monologue, where Dodie nervously questions herself: “Could it be different? Did I ruin the day?/ Oh, do you look angry? Oh, what did I say?” She hurriedly makes assumptions and jumps to conclusions, listing her insecurities aloud as they pop into her mind.

The song’s vulnerable pre-chorus is interrupted by a noisy laugh, and at the chorus, her sweet voice softens to a whisper. She gingerly trails off, as if her words are spelling out a shameful secret. She creates a purposeful juxtaposition between loud and quiet, proposing that quietude is equivalent to conformity and social acceptance — but as the song grows louder, Dodie grows bolder.

Gentle ukulele strums slide over steady drums for most of the song, but deep percussion rises from the depths of the lengthy outro as Dodie realizes “No, I don’t think/ (Don’t think they get me here)/ I can help it.” A subtle synth glides beneath the song’s final verse, and the hopeful mood shift indicates a weight being lifted off her shoulders. Though it’s not quite revelatory, the track’s conclusion is optimistic enough to be satisfying.

“Hate Myself” is an ideal example of how Dodie has perfected her musical style; she sings as though she’s forcing a smile through sorrow, and with a refined balance of delight and melancholy, she manages to make her saddest songs warm and comforting.

This past October, Dodie released “Cool Girl,” the first single from her upcoming debut album Build a Problem. In “Cool Girl,” she personifies the status quo, singing that she’ll “be different/ I’ll be quiet, oh so easy.” But with “Hate Myself,” Dodie realizes that, just maybe, quiet isn’t what she wants to be.

Contact Taila Lee at [email protected].