Absolutely Smitten: A Tribute to Dodie Clark

Tazia Cira

Wen Hsiao

The Analysis of Dodie's Lyrical Content
By Danielle Leard

You can identify great songwriting when a thought is articulated in a way you have never heard before. When the words floating through melodies are collected in ways previously unconsidered; given new context and new dimensions.

Dodie Clark is a great songwriter.

Dodie released her EP Intertwined in November of 2016, and I think the six songs she chose to showcase on it really highlight her songwriting versatility. Below is a song-by-song breakdown of how Dodie employs the English language in her lyrical style and complexion on the album.

Track 1: “Intertwined”. “Intertwined” has a simplistic, undisturbed vibe. A tenor ukulele echoes a gentle melody behind gentle, simple lyrical content. The song totals in at just 102 words over 3 minutes and 11 seconds. Why is that? Well, Dodie matches the minimalistic tone of the backing track by minimizing the amount of words spoken. She really allows the listener to listen to what she says, rather than having to worry about catching words flying by their ears too quickly. When reading the lyrics to “Intertwined”, you’ll see that she does not use any harsh, abrupt words with edges; rather, the song consists of soft words with gradual fades. Overall, Dodie channels a mellowness in her language to help create the ultimate dream of a song that is “Intertwined”.

Track 2: “I Have a Hole In My Tooth (And My Dentist is Shut)”. This track is one of two interludes on the EP. Barely making 40 seconds, the two verses on this track are prominently that of one-syllabled words. In fact, 82/88 (or 93.1%) of the words used on this track are just one syllable. The fashion of these lyrics supports the quick, sharp, and fun beat of the backing track.

Track 3: “Absolutely Smitten”. Ah, a Dodie classic. Whilst her songwriting at the time was not quite as crafted as it is now, there are still some notable (and perhaps subconscious) consistencies throughout the writing. In the verses--the youthful buildup--many of the words used have a jelly-like fluidity to them, consisting of ‘S’s, soft ‘G’s, and ‘L’s or vowels at the end of many words. Think about it. The word “jelly” (as used in the song) has a certain fluidity to it. There is no sharp start or stop to the word like there is in “luck” or “crack”. This type of loose structure helps emphasize the youthful thought process Dodie was experiencing at the time. When the track reaches its hook, the language changes. There are abrupt stops to two out of four lines: “late” and “fate”. There is a shift in her youthful thinking. Wait, she thinks, with a certain halt in her lyrics. Is this really happening? This switch in language is subtle yet effective

Track 4: “Life Lesson”. This track is the second interlude on the album, coming in at less than 30 seconds. The shortest track on the album (and maybe in Dodie song history) naturally does not give us too much to think about in terms of particular language used, but if you notice, the messages Dodie really tries to get through are sharper than where the song starts out. Words like “screaming” and “break” keep the listener attentive throughout this tune.

Track 5: “Sick of Losing Soulmates”. This song is actually comprised of many questions, repeated multiple times in the song. 1) “What the hell would I be without you?” 2) “So where do we begin?” 3) “So how do we win?” 4) “I’ve promised that before, so what’s one more?” Dodie, in the bridge, throws all of these questions out the door because she comes to the realization that she will never truly answer these questions. Instead, she insists: “I won’t take no for an answer.” Varyingly repeated eight times in the bridge, she pretty much shoves this answer in the face of all these dissuading questions.

Track 6: “When”. This one is perhaps the most difficult to untangle. When one examines the lyrics, it is not hard to see how much work and intention went into each line in the song. However, a common theme I’ve identified is up and then down. This song tends to outline a hope or realization in the first couple lines of a verse or chorus, and then the last couple lines bring the lyrics down with reality. Don’t see it? This method is outlined with how Dodie sings the lyrics. The more hopeful or wishful the lyric, the higher its sung. The more realistic the lyric, the lower its sung. We see this in the second verse. Dodie sings, “I’d rather date an idea / Something I’ll never find”; singing higher and higher as the lines elevate. Then, she comes back down in the lyrics, “But I’m never happy here / I’m surrounded by greener looking time.” Her voice inflection really does change, with a single line in between those two moods, mediating the transition from up to down: “Sure, I’ll live in the moment.”

Overall, what do we see in Dodie Clark’s songwriting?
  1. Words have personalities. Dodie pays careful attention to the personalities of the words she uses. Is it a sharp word? A soft word? What do we think of when we hear it? She matches the tone of each word to the tone of the message she’s trying to communicate.
  2. Quantity enhances consequence. If a song is calm, there will be fewer lyrics. If a song is upbeat, there will be more. If Dodie really wants to drill in a theme, she will repeat the lyric multiple times throughout a track.
  3. Reimagine thoughts. Though not specifically pointed out throughout this analysis, it is not too hard to see how Dodie reimagines common thoughts into brilliant songwriting. Ex: “Can you drink all my thoughts?” “I’m too damp for a spark.” “Greener looking time.” “A superglued human of proof.”

Dodie Clark truly has a signature writing style worth analyzing.

Daisy Acosta

Organized by Wen Hsiao
Contributions by Tazia Cira, Wen Hsiao, Danielle Irene, and Daisy Acosta


  1. damn the only song i know from her is sick of losing soulmates but this review makes me want to listen to all her songs. i freaking love this. it's enlightening and very informative.

    1. Thank you so much!! It is really is a beautiful EP.

    the art and photos too ugh guys this is so good