You Broke Me First

A young woman walks through a city.

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Kristin Smith

Album Review

Tatum Rosner McRae, known to fans as Tate McRae, is a 17-year-old Canadian pop star on the rise.

Tate’s first taste of fame arrived at 13-years-old when she became a finalist on Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance. But that certainly wasn’t her first time in front of a camera. Her YouTube channel has been dishing out a steady stream of dance videos since 2011.

In 2018, her single “One Day” caught the ear of RCA Records execs. Now, Tate has signed with RCA, has put out an EP, worked with Billie Eilish and continues to make bigger and bigger waves on various music charts.  

Tate’s latest track, “you broke me first,” is her first to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s an emotionally charged, pop-piano ballad that expresses her thoughts about an ex-boyfriend who wants to rekindle the same relationship he ruined.

Don’t Come Cryin’…

Tate hasn’t heard from her boyfriend in a while. No texts. Nothing. So, she begins to make excuses for why she’s being ignored (“Maybe you don’t like talking too much about yourself/You’re drunk at a party or maybe it’s just that your car broke down”). But the real reason is because he’s cheated on her (“But you shoulda told me that you were thinkin’ ’bout someone else”).

It’s clear that Tate and her ex had an unhealthy, codependent relationship: “I know you, you’re like this/When s— don’t go your way, you needed me to fix it/And like me, I did.” It’s obviously a relationship where there was more take than give.

And now this same boyfriend is asking to rekindle the relationship he destroyed (“Now suddenly you’re asking for it back/ … Yeah, you could say you miss all that we had”), but Tate is setting boundaries because she’s had enough (“Could you tell me, where’d you get the nerve … /But I don’t really care how bad it hurts/When you broke me first”).

…Because I’ve Moved On

Tate may only be 17, but her lyrics suggest that she’s walked through some emotionally difficult moments in her young life. The song positively sets boundaries after a toxic relationship has ended, and that’s to Tate’s credit.

That said, some parents might note that such deep intimacy at such a young age is perhaps an even more important underlying issue here. The song reinforces a worldview in which still-developing teens act as if they’re fully grown adults—a more subtle but perhaps more important concern than the song’s more obvious concerns.

Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).

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