Omar Apollo grieves for a life that isn’t fair in new album ‘God Said No’

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Recommended Tracks: “Done With You”, Glow”, “Spite”
Artists You Might Like: Dijon, Kevin Abstract, Orion Sun

Having a perfect life is a myth. We all experience moments where we believe nothing could be better, but the truth is, love can turn into loss, we grieve and we move on. Often, we are forced to deal with the reality that life isn’t always as easy as it seems. Omar Apollo — born Omar Velasco — addresses grief and the harshness of life in his latest album, God Said No, through themes of success and existential contemplation. Apollo continues to push the boundaries of alternative R&B while confronting the truth that life isn’t easy. After all, “lo que será, será” (English for “whatever will be, will be”).

The 27-year-old singer emerged onto the music scene seven years ago with his first EP, Stereo (2018), and subsequently, his debut mixtape, Apolonio (2020). It wasn’t until 2022 that Apollo saw a skyrocketing amount of fame and press when he released his debut album, Ivory (2022), to positive reviews, featuring his critically acclaimed single, “Evergreen (You Didn’t Deserve Me at All),” which went viral on TikTok in September of that year. Through explorations of grief, loss and heartbreak, Apollo dives into lush alt-R&B with his sophomore record God Said No.

The album itself tells the story, which Apollo described as a “survey of the emotional wreckage that followed the end of a torrid love affair” in a press release. The album opens with the guitar-driven alternative ballad, “Be Careful With Me,” where Apollo reflects on whether their partner crossed boundaries in their relationship. In an exploration of the relationship’s fragility, the need for mutual understanding and the importance of handling each other’s hearts with care, Apollo wants the one he cares for to be okay in the lead single “Spite,” which sees Apollo trying to maintain his composure within a long-distance relationship because he refuses to show the other person he’s hurting. In the chorus, he sings, “Why you gotta ruin every night? / 50K I spend it out of spite / Every timе I see you on my phone / Hate that I still need you with my life.”

However, he can’t let go of the life he’s grieving in the 1980s synth-inspired track “Less of You.” Apollo is frustrated and ready to let go of toxicity in “Done With You,” which tackles romantic disillusionment and moving on. He reminisces on this former flame, as highlighted in the lyrics, “Used to talk ‘bout you and I / Used to miss you when you’re gone,” and comes to the realization that closure is all he truly needs.

A departure from most of his hit tracks, Apollo’s “Plane Trees” and “Drifting” both shine in their individuality and exploration of longing and escape, with the former exuding a melancholic aura. In the ballad track “Plane Trees,” which features poet and singer Mustafa, Apollo contemplates life and death and the passion of time in one of his most introspective songs on the album, by singing, “How could we be smiling? How could we if we’re upside down?” Mustafa’s vocals add a slightly darker tone, and Apollo continues God Said No’s theme of existentialism as Apollo continues his search for peace in “Drifting.”

As the album progresses, Apollo explores romantic toxicity more heavily with “Empty” and “Life’s Unfair.” “Empty” showcases a relationship that has since ended, deepening themes of hollowness and emptiness that one experiences after a fallout. Only, Apollo is merely guilty and regretful in “Life’s Unfair” because he knows his pain affected the one he loves. The two seamlessly flow into one another. Sonically, “Empty” is a slow ballad with electro synths, while “Life’s Unfair” features upbeat drum beats and a strong bass line.

How does one cherish moments when everything is unknown? Apollo infuses warmth into his latest track, “While U Can,” featuring soulful vocals and deep synths. In this song, he pleads to his partner to hold onto what they have despite how fast time goes by. Even though Apollo is afraid of letting go, he sings, “And I won’t be right, be right here / And I won’t be by your side / Won’t be by your side, like I said I would.” This sense of pertinent connection is palpable in “Dispose of Me” as well, where Apollo leaves his heart on his sleeve, promising that he will stay forever and won’t go anywhere anytime soon.

Apollo finds some closure and solace in the two concluding tracks of the album, “Pedro” and “Glow.” In “Pedro,” the album’s theme of “lo que será, será” returns, featuring a heartfelt monologue from “Last of Us” actor Pedro Pascal. The voice memo sees a vulnerable Pascal finding faith amidst periods of introspection. But the journey toward self-growth isn’t over as Apollo discovers or rediscovers love and its impact in its truest, most raw form. Apollo pleads, “Before you leave, give me one more dance / For only you and me,” encapsulating deep emotions through evocative imagery and introspective lyrics. Apollo shares memories and experiences unlike any other, making this song the perfect conclusion to the 14-track album.

Dealing with any kind of grief is no easy feat, especially for Apollo. In his sophomore album, God Said No, he confronts the harsh reality that life isn’t always fair and sometimes you just have to deal with the hands you are dealt and move forward. Despite the difficulties, Apollo remains bold, ready to roll with the punches, all while maintaining his distinctive alternative R&B sound. Even when it seems impossible to handle, Apollo understands that whatever will be, will be.

Apollo will embark on his World Tour on July 15, with support from Kevin Abstract, Malcolm Todd and Ravyn Lenae.

Keep up with Omar Apollo: Instagram // Spotify // X // Facebook // TikTok // YouTube

Clare Gehlich
Clare Gehlich
Clare is a recent Stony Brook University graduate, holding a BA in Journalism. She was a journalism intern at Melodic for the spring 2024 semester and currently serves as the album coordinator and is a freelance writer for the magazine.

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