Why Foundations by Kate Nash is an unexpected anthem
When you think of a song being an anthem, you usually think of a big hitter. Big sound, multiple instruments, complex riffs and Glastonbury headliner bands or 80s ballads.
Foundations by Kate Nash, admittedly doesn’t tick many of these boxes. There are multiple instruments, but Foundations is hardly in the top 10 on disc one of Now That’s What I Call Power Ballads.
In fact it definitely isn’t, because this is an album my Dad owns, and he can confirm it’s not on there.
But I will argue that Foundations is an anthem, this is a hill I will die on, or maybe tear a cruciate ligament.
Yes, I’ll accept it’s not your traditional anthem, but it is a bad relationship anthem. Let me try and break it down for you somehow.
You know when you’re 17 and you’ve just got your first boyfriend and you think, “This is it world, I am a grown up, I am someone’s girlfriend, someone is my boyfriend, I have a plus one to take to family events — even though legally neither of us can drink alcohol yet.”
You think he’s the one, for the following reasons: he’s at least a foot taller than you. His hair sweeps across his forehead in that way that musicians feature in NME do. He can drive. He introduced you to an acoustic cover of one of your favourite songs. If you close one of your eyes and squint a bit, he looks a bit like the Prince from the Little Mermaid.
He is a good boy to have as your first boyfriend now that you are having your first grown up relationship. You’re even allowed to sleep in the same bed when he stays over, after negotiation with parents and firm reassurances that no, you will not get pregnant.
And then six months pass by, and you’re still together in your grown up but actually juvenile relationship, and the cracks start to show
“Then you call me a bitch and everyone we’re with gets embarrassed and I don’t give a shit.”
You’re at a friends house party, and you’ve already had a few small arguments about the propensity in which he texts a girl called Hattie, who goes to his college. You already rowed in the car on the way over, and wasted no time in downing half the bottle of Blossom Hill that your mum gave you because if you’re gonna drink she’d rather she bought it for you.
You immediately corner one of your closest allies, blank the probably, but not entirely confirmed, sexting bastard, and begin to spill to said ally about what a dick this guy is.
He notices your not at all subtle gestures at his awful being, and comes to have a quiet word. Except it’s not a word. It’s a bark. It’s a “what are you saying to her?” And you, already feeling the unsteady rocking of a mid price rosé call him a fucking cheating bastard, and watch as he angrily walks away, in full view of all your mates, who roll their eyes in the inevitable “they fight at every party” way.
“When I’m telling a story and you find it boring you’re thinking of something to say. You’ll go along with and then drop it and humiliate me, in front of our friends.”
And then the next day you’re at a McDonald’s with all his mates, who have all just discovered smoking weed and think they’re some sort of if Entourage met Breaking Bad gang. They all have names for their cars and wear similar brands of trainers and have big plans for their band - which meets weekly for practice, which lasts about 10 minutes before they roll a joint and listen to Chase and Status.
You’ve just failed your driving test and you’re hardly in the mood to watch Charlie eat a whole share box of McNuggets but Boyfriend has promised that later he’ll take you home and you’ll watch that film you’ve been pressing for for weeks.
Charlie is on his last 5 nuggets, and you make it clear that you want to leave. But Boyfriend is having a laugh.
He says “’Maybe you could drive yourself back — oh wait,” giving a knowing glance to his mates, who were sympathetic when he told them the news on your behalf, but are now stifling shitty little smirks.
And suddenly it’s not a grown up relationship anymore. You’re dating the boy who sat at the back of the bus and pulled your hair.
“You said I must eat so many lemons, because I am so bitter. I said I’d rather be with your friends mate, cos they are much fitter.”
You’ve been together a year, and you probably spend more time upset at each other than you do happy.
But you don’t break up, because you’re in a Grown Up relationship, and you have to work through these things, don’t you?
You’ve reunited for the second time, after finding out from his friend that he sent dick pics to Hattie — you fucking knew it. You can make it work this time, at least someone loves you, right? So, you let it go.
Except you don’t let it go. It’s in the subtext of every snapped retort. Whenever you’re angry that all he wants to do is spend time with his mates, it flashes in the whites of your eyes.
Instead of breaking up, calling it a day, saying “you know we gave it our best shots but actually we’re just kids why don’t we stop hurting each other and ourselves and just be friends, or stop seeing each other,” you argue and ignore and sometimes he shouts and sometimes you cry and scream.
You think about how to hurt him. You tag along to parties, you flirt with his friends. You go on nights out with your friends and pointedly tag yourself in photos where you’re standing a little too close to some slick dudebro you have no interest in.
He gets mad, but you never get even.
“Yes it was childish and you got aggressive and I must admit that I was a bit scared, but it gives me thrills to wind you up.”
Eventually things get a bit more serious.
You’re eating dinner with his family and you slip into conversation that you caught Boyfriend smoking with his pals after some battle of the bands gig at school. But wait — his mum doesn’t like him smoking. She drops her fork, he gives you a death stare, his sister takes a sharp intake of breath.
You’ve caused a familial civil war. You feel bad, but also you’ve got a checklist of about 50 things he’s done to piss you off, so you quickly give yourself a point for points scoring sake.
He sucks it up at the table, but when you’re allowed to retreat to the safety of neutral ground he pushes you into a corner, asks you what the fuck you said that for.
This guy, who wooed you with a bunch of Sainsburys flowers and being the first boy to tell you you are pretty and you are worthy, frightens you. It’s not funny anymore. It’s not worth the point, for what it’s worth. He leaves a bruise, and you laugh it off to others — I bruise like a peach.
“My fingertips are holding onto the cracks in our foundations,and I know that I should let go,but I can’t. And every time we fight, I know its not right. Every time that your upset and I smile — I know I should forget, But I can’t”
And so you’re in a weird No Man’s Land. You’re not together, but you’re not broken up. He tells you he’s sorry, sorry, so sorry and that he loves you and you tell him that you love him back and things will be different.
The kind of thing you see on TV, when screenwriters are desperately trying to claw onto a borderline boring on-off relationship between two popular characters.
You seek refuge at your best friend’s house, where you sooth yourself with Chad Michael Murray in A Cinderella Story.
It’s bursting inside you that you want to talk about Boyfriend, but you’re acutely aware that your friend knows about all the scrapes and arguments.
She’s always told you the same thing, “If he doesn’t make you happy, you should dump him! Because you are great and he is a garbage loser.” Except you don’t feel great. You don’t really feel like anything anymore.
Good mate drags you out to a house party held by one of the popular boys in the year above and half a bottle of Archers later you’re feeling more human, more emotional.
You and you’re closest girl friends are in the lounge, The song changes. Two chords of piano play. Olivia shrieks. You shriek. It’s your song, it’s your song.
Despite growing up in central Essex and having relatively basic accents you all suddenly develop faux cockney sing song voices.
“Thursday night, everything’s fine, except you’ve got that look in your eye.”
And you get to the chorus, and instead of being a funny, quirky song it just gets sad and you think about how you have to dump this guy, but you also think maybe having a shit boyfriend is better than none at all*
(*editor’s note: it isn’t)
And before the song is over you’ve become the drunk girl that cries at parties, and your friends all roll their eyes and delegate whose turn it is to console you so they don’t miss out on trying to get with Fit Sam from Mr Kennedy’s form.
The party ends, you go home. You deal with the hangover. Eventually he ends it, because he gets bored or he finds someone more exciting; less whiney.
And then you one day you grow up and you live in London and you have your own job; you go to house parties but they’re different.
For one, there isn’t a parent hiding upstairs to make sure no-one gets pregnant on their watch.
You’ve grown and you’ve realised that being alone is okay, and it’s way better to be alone than to cling on to a sad relationship with someone who doesn’t even have the decency to appear like he’s faithful to you, and you don’t have to stand and smile and pretend you respect him for it.
You’ll hang out in the kitchen, judging the party host by the contents of their cupboard and you’ll wear flat shoes, and you may meet a grown man who is actually cute and so maybe you’ll try grown up flirting.
Then Foundations will come on, because even though you’ve all grown up it’s still an indie anthem. And you’ll only scream internally because you’re a grown up now, who doesn’t scream out loud at songs anymore.
But you still slur away to Foundations, screeching every word and you’ll remember that once you were committed to a lifestyle of trying to hold a volcano together with your bare hands.
And now you can enjoy Foundations in a sentimental way.
Like someone new is finding out about your beautiful body for the first time, and they ask how you got that silvery scar from and you know that it hurt at the time but now it’s just a part of your framework — a story you tell.
At that lads, is why Foundations is an anthem. Listen to it here: