Associate Features Editor
On February 15, musician Mikael Temrowski, known by his stage name Quinn XCII, released his latest album, “From Michigan With Love.”
Appearing on the album is a song titled “Tough.” “Tough,” a single that was released in December, 2018, examines the irony of the “tough gym guy” stereotype. There is a stigma surrounding men talking about their feelings; oftentimes men who publicly acknowledge that they are more than just meat-heads, are often dismissed as gay. A look at the lyrics of “Tough” quickly shows that physical strength does not equal superiority.
In Quinn’s first verse leading into his pre-chorus, he sings “you bench pressing more than me is not the issue / I know you’re actually weaker than that / Let’s open up and get deeper than that.”
Quinn is calling out the guys who think that being king of the free weight area makes them superior. In his pre-chorus, Quinn writes “like why, why are you only vulnerable when no-one’s around?” Quinn asserts that getting deep is important. There needs to be something beneath the muscle because a “gym membership is not a crown.”
In Quinn’s chorus, he asserts that the tough guy in question is in fact “not so tough.” He sleeps with a nightlight and watches “Eat Pray Love” (a romantic comedy-drama)on repeat. It is okay to be deep and sensitive. There are guys out there who think acting emotionless in public makes them strong, when in reality, they are just acting like someone they are not.
Quinn knows that just because other guys hide their emotions, it does not make him weak for being open about them in his songs.
Quinn’s chorus ends with the lines “oh, so mess me up / I know you’re not so tough.” Essentially Quinn is saying, that if all the other guy can do is beat him up then he should go for it. Quinn is not afraid because he recognizes that there are more important things and he goes on to reveal that the tough guy is insecure on the inside.
In his second verse, Quinn asks the tough guy if he is “insecure that the steroids are causing hair loss” or if his “Lulu shorts don’t quite match (his) camo AirPods.” The tough guy is all material and no depth. It is all a front, and Quinn ends his second verse by dissing the tough guy with the line, “I bet you know that you need to relax.”
In other words, Quinn is not impressed with the tough guy act and recognizes it for what it is: cowardice. He goes on to elaborate on this in his third verse.
“Yeah, I should probably substitute what is on my plate / But I still acknowledge those feelings inside / Let’s work on your habit to run or to hide,” Quinn sings at the exposition of his third and final verse.
Quinn decides it is more valuable to be able to embrace vulnerability than to try to outrun it. He sees past the façade of immaculate physicality and knows that a healthy diet is not the only habit that some guys need to work on.
Quinn sees himself as stronger than the tough guy because he is strong enough to acknowledge his feelings. While a gym bod is great, it is pointless if it just an empty shell built up to protect a cowardly boy from the deeper things in life.
Quinn XCII contrasts many popular male artists by expressing raw emotions through his lyrics. Going to the gym and working out won’t work out the issues that a person has inside of them. The moral in “Tough,” seems to be that the strongest guys are actually the ones who know that lifting weights does not constitute an entire personality.