‘I Know The End:’ An Existential Anthem for the Pandemic

From Phoebe Bridgers' Youtube Channel

Nicholas Lang, Opinions Editor

In an interview with Genius, Phoebe Bridgers stated that “I Know The End” from her sophomore album “Punisher” was written before quarantine had started, but the meaning of this closing track is strikingly relevant to our current situation.
Bridgers tackles multiple emotions similar to those caused by the pandemic, such as isolation and the existential dread and thinking, in a somber and unsettling 5 minutes and 45 seconds. At the beginning of the track, she sings about romanticizing a “quiet life,” and how “there’s no place like my room.” Accompanied by a bare guitar, Bridgers’ fragile yet steady voice perfectly captures the melancholy of quarantine. We have all been subjected to the “quiet life,” and we have been stuck in our rooms for far too long. And once the stagnance of life becomes normal, the overthinking of the pandemic inevitably arrives.
In the second verse of “I Know The End,” Bridgers sings how “when the sirens sound you’ll hide under the floor.” This is Bridgers’ introduction to the thought of an apocalypse; the sirens she mentions refer to the warning of the end of the world. But instead of going “down with my hometown in a tornado,” Bridger’s is going to “chase it.” She decides to take her fate into her own hands and make the best of an unavoidable situation. This notion is continued in the latter half of the track.
Slowly building up with strings and heavier guitar, the climactic conclusion to “I Know The End” paints Bridgers’ feelings about an apocalyptic situation. While driving away from the “sirens,” she wants “the ultraviolet [to] cover me up.” And to further establish the story she had weaved throughout the track, Bridgers sings how “over the coast, everyone’s convinced it’s a government drone or alien spaceship.” Finally the end of the world has arrived, but Bridgers reminds us that “we’re not alone,” and despite the circumstances, she is “not afraid to disappear.” The track closes with screaming from Bridgers herself and sinister-sounding horns, signifying her passion, and the intensity of the end.
It is the contrasting tones of a delicate guitar to blaring vocals, relatable and harsh lyrics, and our current situation that makes “I Know The End” by Phoebe Bridgers one of the best songs of 2020. She effortlessly illustrates a detailed story about isolation and facing the end of the world, and it is a story that can be applied to many Americans’ experiences throughout this pandemic. With the United States’ lackluster handling of COVID-19, the end of the world may not seem too unlikely, but if it comes to that, “I Know The End” would be a perfect apocalyptic anthem.