What do you get when you combine an enormously popular video game, a new animated TV show, an alternative rock group and a rapper?
Answer: the song “Enemy,” by Imagine Dragons and J.I.D.
This track, which pulses with Imagine Dragon’s signature alt-rock groove and J.I.D.’s rapid-fire flow, is the first release from the soundtrack for the forthcoming Netflix series Arcane. And that show, in turn, is the first animated series for the extraordinarily popular online arena battle game League of Legends.
If that convergence of different pop-culture streams from different genres sounds confusing, well, the song itself is pretty straightforward.
In a nutshell, this song is a battle cry of one voice against the world—an appropriate sort of vibe for a video game that’s all about the last man (or team) standing.
Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds calls out his enemy’s duplicitous nature (“Tell you you’re the greatest/But once you turn, they hate us”) and then sings repeatedly, throughout the balance of the song, “Oh, the misery/Everybody wants to be my enemy/Spare the sympathy.”
The second verse challenges the singer’s critics and enemies, those whom Reynolds says are “prayin’ for my fall.” He says he’s “waiting for the time/When I show you what it’s like to be words spit in a mic.” There’s a definite underdog sense here, that Reynolds’ protagonist is biding his time for the right moment to strike back.
If Reynolds’ words are a (in typically Imagine Dragons fashion) cryptic, J.I.D.’s fast-moving raps are more plain in their meaning. “I’m hoping that somebody pray for me/I’m praying that somebody hope for me,” he says. That’s because J.I.D. also recognizes that he’s under attack. But he says he’s “ready to go whenever, just let me know/The road is long, so put the pedal into the floor/ … Pack it up, I don’t panic, batter-batter up
Who the baddest?”
The unnamed conflicts alluded to here definitely have an ominous, violent feel to them, especially when J.I.D. threatens in the final line, “It don’t matter ’cause we at ya’ throat.”
The song’s video features footage from Arcane. The story it teases seems to be about a group of young orphans trying to make their way together on the gritty streets of a grimy, sci-fi urban-scape. We see adolescents playing innocently, kids training for fights, a youth provoking creepy police with a middle finger and someone being badly beaten by fists in a dark alley.
Clearly, life isn’t easy for these seemingly abandoned kids. The song’s suggestion that everyone is an enemy is reinforced by the video, which contrasts kids laughing and goofing off with a sense that they are also in perpetual peril and might be pursued and punished at any moment.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.