The Real Meaning Behind 'Heat Waves' By Glass Animals

British band Glass Animals have been coming in hot with the release of their effervescent yet hazy hit "Heat Waves." The four-person pop band, headed by lead singer Dave Bayley, was formed back in 2010 and have been cooking up an eclectic mix of psychedelic pop, electronic, indie rock and R&B influenced music since their inception. While the childhood friends have steadily released tune after tune — their 2014 harp-infused song "Gooey" made the Spotify rounds — it wasn't until "Heat Waves" hit the scene that the Oxford band received international success.

"Heat Waves" is Glass Animals' fourth song from their third studio album Dreamland. The album, originally slated for a July 2020 release, was postponed until Aug. 7, 2020, which Bayley explained on Instagram was as sign of respect for the Black Lives Matters movement (per NME).

The Glass Animals frontman has been fairly open about the origins of the album and its star song "Heat Waves" — which took just one "weird" peak pandemic night to write. Bayley told Billboard, " ... This happened in an hour late at night. The guitar came first. I was like, 'I'm going to write this long chord pattern.'" 

After "fumbling" about on the guitar and "looking into space" — Bayley got the hook. "It's so bonkers. It never happens like that. If you spend enough time in a studio f***ing around, eventually all the notes will form some kind of catchy sequence," he said. Find out the real meaning of the song below.

'Heat Waves' is about 'realizing you can't make everyone happy'

On the surface, the psychedelic pop song "Heat Waves" seems to be a typical heartache ballad. The lyrics suggest Dave Bayley can't give his ex what they deserve as he croons, "You just need a better life than this. You need something I can never give." But further along, it's clear his decision to part ways is considerate and unselfish. "Now I gotta let you go. You'll be better off in someone new. I don't wanna be alone. You know it hurts me too." 

The danceable beat and colorful productions certainly contrasts from the song's overall melancholy mood — which makes sense given Bayley said he was in a "weird place" when he penned it. Bayley told Billboard his late night songwriting occurred during an emotionally "vulnerable" time of year for him.

"I was in a weird place. There's a certain time of year where I always start to feel a bit s**t, because I lost someone really important to me, and 'round their birthday, I start to feel a bit weird. ... It was coming up to that period and it was late at night. Hence the lyric. ["Late nights in the middle of June."] So I was sitting back and feeling nostalgic and reflective," Bayley said.

Bayley explained that while "Heat Waves" is about "realizing you can't make everyone happy" and that "it's okay to be defeated by something" (per ABC).

Dave Bayley called 'Heat Waves' a 'love letter to live music'

With the music and entertainment industry at a standstill in 2020, the Glass Animals frontman said he wanted to give back to venues and fans with "Heat Waves." Dave Bayley called his hit song "a love letter to live music and the culture and togetherness surrounding it" as a result of lockdown restrictions, per NME. Glass Animals themselves had a canceled world tour, per RMP.

Despite a quiet 2020 on the tour front, the London-based group have been anything but idle over the past 12 months. Aside from releasing their album Dreamland, they put on virtual performances and rolled out various lockdown-filmed music videos — "Heat Waves" included, of course. And while the song doesn't directly mention the loss of the music industry in its lyrics, it's certainly palpable in the accompanying music video. 

On the day of its release — the same as the single — Bayley explained that the "Heat Waves" video is "meant to reference the sentiments in the song...about being defeated and unable to save something... but tweaked the context a little."

The music video was partly filmed on iPhones by Dave Bayley's neighbors

The creatively produced video sees Dave Bayley wander the silent quarantined streets of London while towing a pile of music gear. Neighbors peer through their windows, filming the singer's slow-moving journey with their iPhones.

Bayley eventually ends up at a concert venue and sings to an empty audience, while his bandmates play on screens of old televisions. The video is made all the more poignant as it closes out on a "sold out" poster of their canceled Dreamland tour.

"These are people who are usually out at shows, in galleries, going to cinemas ... These venues are left empty now, and many of them will not survive. The song is about loss and longing, and ultimately realizing you are unable to save something... and this video is about that but for art, being together, and human contact," Bayley said.

Shooting the video was emotional for Bayley, who likened the experience to a live show with fans filming. "When everyone was leaning out of their windows filming, I felt that same sense of togetherness and spine-tingling energy that happened at live shows. It made the coldness of performing to an empty room with the band stuck on screens feel even more heart-breaking," he said.

"Heat Waves" now sits at more than 227 million plays on Spotify — surpassing their previous hit "Gooey" — and has been on the Billboard charts for 28 weeks.