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Bulldog Times

Album Analysis: “Neotheater” by AJR

Angelina Zhao
Album analysis installations will be published every Friday until the end of the 2023-24 school year; check back in every week for a new album to dive deeper into.

In this weekly column, the Bulldog Times will choose a new album to dissect and analyze. Whether it is a niche favorite or a popular new release, all the interesting perspectives and central themes will be closely looked at. This week, we are taking a look into AJR’s Album, “Neotheater.”

Released on April 26, 2019, AJR’s album, “Neotheater”’ is one of the band’s best releases from their music career. With the catchy tunes and thought provoking lyrics, this is a fan favorite from their collection of music. Here are six out of their twelve songs on this album that tells an interesting story worth dissecting.

“Birthday Party”

So thank you

For coming to my birthday party

I am one minute old today

And everything is going great”

Told from the perspective of an infant, life is seemingly perfect. This song emphasizes the naivety of the youth and how a lack of awareness can be bliss. Due to the lack of real world experience, the infant believes unrealistic ideas like racism not existing, the possibility for a female president, friends will never be outgrown, and that social media is fun. This highlights the innocence of those who have yet to experience the harsh realities of life.

“100 Bad Days”

A hundred bad days made a hundred good stories

A hundred good stories make me interesting at parties”

When negative events affect people’s life, it is a normal reaction to feel defeated and discouraged. However, this song offers an optimistic viewpoint on this idea. Rather than feeling sorry when things don’t turn out as planned, thoughts should be changed to think of it as a good story to retell at parties. This song recalls specific misfortunes such as heartbreak and broken bones. While these events are not ideal, AJR turned these experiences into a way to entertain a crowd, rather than a way to feel pity for themselves.

“Don’t Throw Out My Legos”

Oh no, don’t throw out my Legos

What if I can’t let go? What if I come back home, back home?”

The message behind this song makes it easily the saddest song on the album. As many young adults are growing up and leaving their childhood homes, it is hard to say goodbye to our past and move onto a new chapter of life. This song is an anecdote from when the singer’s parents threw out their LEGO’s once they moved out of the house. This is followed by the anxieties of not being able to make it on their own and needing to move back in with their parents. Following these worries, they ask their parents to keep their LEGO’s at home because they don’t want to move out and erase their past. As a lot of AJR’s listeners are entering this stage of their own life, this song is especially relatable and emotional for many.


I’ve been so good, I’ve been helpful and friendly

I’ve been so good, why am I feeling empty?”

It is difficult to be a “good person” without expecting anything in return. This song follows the idea that just because we try our best in life, it is easy to be disappointed when the efforts are not matched with “good karma.” This makes the singers feel as if their efforts are useless and they should stop trying. Keeping an optimistic mindset can be discouraging when it is not met with any rewards like a sold out tour, as described in this song.


Would Beats by Dre, pay 20K

For us to say that they are great

Recording costs, for this whole song

Could all be paid, by Beats by Dre”

As AJR is coming to terms with their success from their music and tours, they are beginning to understand the impact of brand deals. This song uses Beats by Dre for example—a company that is willing to pay thousands of dollars to have celebrities promote their product. AJR expresses their fears about becoming irrelevant one day, where people no longer know their name and brand deals stop coming their way. Becoming unimportant to people is a fear that many people share, making the song not only relatable to the listeners, but also other musicians who are worried about their source of income. As for AJR, their success is still recent and they are navigating their life with their newfound recognition.

“Dear Winter”

Dear Winter, I hope you like your name

I hope they don’t make fun of you

When you grow up and go to school, okay?”

While having a unique name picked out for a future child may be fun for the parents, the effects on the child must be thought of as well. In the case of this song, the name “Winter” has led the father to fear criticism that his future child may get. This song also focuses on excitement he feels to share memorable life events with his future child, such as taking shots together on the 21st birthday and fights that they may have when the child is a teenager. The main caveat to this future is that the singer has not yet met his future wife, therefore prolonging his desires for a child.


While only six songs were mentioned, all twelve songs work together to create a lyrical masterpiece. This album is one of AJR’s many great hits, as it encompasses a wide variety of human experiences and feelings, making it both relatable and emotional. While each album of theirs is a hit, “Neotheater”  is particularly memorable due to its catchy tunes and thought provoking lyrics.

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About the Contributors
Rachel Dunn, Assistant Features Editor
Rachel Dunn (12) is a first-year journalist for the Bulldog Times. Rachel is looking forward to using her passion for writing to inform students about the current and local issues within Chino Hills. Additionally, she is excited to build new friendships with people who have the same passion for writing as she does. Outside of journalism, Rachel is the vice president and former secretary of Ayala’s Christian club. She uses her leadership skills to help students grow their relationship with Christ. When she is not at school, Rachel can most often be found at Trader Joe’s, where she works. She loves her job and the people that she works with. In her free time, Rachel enjoys reading, art, Netflix, and long afternoon naps.

Angelina Zhao, Staff Member
Angelina Zhao is a senior who has joined The Bulldog Times in order to help promote school events and bring back school spirit using writing and social media. In her spare time, she enjoys leisurely activities such as re-watching her favorite Barbie movies, TV shows, and YouTube video essays. Her interests are mainly centered around games and collecting cute figures or stuffed animals. Some activities she likes to do with friends include making friendship bracelets, going karaoke, having makeover hangouts and going to the gym. She looks forward to helping promote school spirit and bringing attention to unrecognized efforts on the school campus.  
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