Breakdown of ‘Stay’ by Zedd, Alessia Cara

Four years after the song was released I found myself writing an out-of-this-world comment on the video for Zedd’s track Stay featuring singer Alessia Cara on YouTube and it got so wordy that I decided to turn it into a post for Core.

Some people think the music video represents a video game and that’s why events go backward and the story starts over when it reaches the end. Others believe that the mirror shatters. And that is a sign that bad things are going to happen. But I have an alternate theory of what’s happening in the Stay video.

It’s based on the idea of multiple worlds. Some mathematicians, physicists, or quantum theorists believe that there are other worlds in our universe and that there are even other universes out there.

In philosophy some thinkers imagine possible worlds where there are people and events just like on Earth. Some people believe those other worlds are like a mirror of this one.

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So when Zedd touches the mirror, it’s not meant as a foreshadowing of the events to come in the usual foreboding way that we are use to. The mirror ripples. This action is used tell us that the viewer that he is physically being transported to another dimension or another world.

We’ve seen this concept before in tales like Through the Looking-Glass: And What Alice Saw There by Lewis Carroll. Alice could see a replica of her own living room in the looking-glass and was able to go through the glass to the other side.

Zedd already knows that Alessia Cara is going to be in the same motel and that he would meet her in the elevator. He knew beforehand of his own demise. But he loves her so much he can’t bear to see her lonely and he can’t live without her so he follows her from one world to the next trying to hold onto what they had.

The song is from Alessia’s perspective. We know that Zedd keeps reliving the day they met and the relationship they have after that. It seems like only one day but it could be many days on the same world. It could also be one day or many days on other worlds relived many times. He presses the elevator button multiple times.

It’s a kind of 50 First Dates scenario where Adam Sandler’s character keeps creating scenario’s for Drew Barrymore’s character because she has amnesia and wakes up every day thinking that it’s the same day even though it’s actually years later. Then he found a way to let her know about her situation as soon as she wakes up.

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Maybe sometimes Zedd tells Alessia and other times he doesn’t because it’s a different world every time. All Zedd wants to do is relive this moment and this romance over and over again. Each time is the first time for Alessia.

But she’s also the all-knowing narrator of the story so, we have to assume that he tells her about what’s going to happen in our world.

They both want to hold on to the life they have. She says, “I don’t wanna grow up, we can stay forever young/Living on my sofa, drinking rum and cola, underneath the rising sun,” but the clock is ticking. And she “could give a million reasons why” he should stay but his fate has already been decided. 

When she says, “But you’re going and you know that,” gives us reason to believe that Zedd knows he’s going to leave. And she knows that as well because he told her.

Despite the fact that she knows, it’s still a sad and shocking ending for her and for us.

by Cherryl Bird – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Twitter @ladycbird | Instagram @cherrylbird


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