A Great Big World
Let A Great Big World's music uplift you through difficult times. (Illustration by Mahaney, Pratt Institute)

A Great Big World, featuring Ian Axel and Chad King, is a singer/songwriting duo that uses music to inspire change. The band first became known when Christina Aguilera recreated their song, “Say Something.” A Great Big World’s songs challenge the status quo, presenting issues including LGTBQ+ rights and mental illness.

Ian and Chad are not afraid to present their true selves to others, and they encourage their listeners to do the same. In their album, “Is There Anybody Out There,” the song “Everyone is Gay” explores various sexualities and how every kind of love is valuable. This song was created to bring awareness to the LGBTQ+ community and their struggles.

In an interview with All Access Music, the band said that the song was originally created for their friends, who were running a website dedicated to raising funds for a tour around the country, in which they would be discussing sexuality at colleges. The band shared, “So, we wrote the song and it just became an equality anthem for us, and, I mean, it was powerful for us because it was the first time we were singing about the issue.”

The song discusses being straight, gay and everything in between, and how each sexuality is wonderful and valid. The song’s main chorus, “’Cause we’re all somewhere in the middle. We’re all just looking for love to change the world. What if the world stops spinning tomorrow? We can’t keep running away from who we are,” preaches for people to be who they are now, because, if everything came to an end, they would regret not being true to themselves.

The lyric “We’re all just looking for love to change the world” is universal. Everyone wants to find love, regardless of their gender or sexuality. Love is what brings the world together, and this song explores the fact that love is love. Ian and Chad believe that each experience with love has something different and beautiful about it. The line “And we’re all here in it together” encourages everyone to realize that, together, we can make change and acceptance happen.

Ian and Chad represent their own sexualities in their love songs; Chad sings about loving a man, and Ian sings about loving a woman. They often sing about their different experiences in the same song, as they do in “Hold Each Other.” Ian sings, “Something happens when I hold her. She keeps my heart from getting older,” and Chad sings, “Something happens when I hold him. He keeps my heart from getting broken.”

Sometimes, the band omits gender altogether, like in the song “End of the World.” During this love song, they never use pronouns to describe their lovers, which represents those who do not limit themselves to be in love with one gender.

A Great Big World explores more than just LGBTQ+ issues with their music. Their song “Won’t Stop Running” was inspired by Chad King and his struggle with health issues. In an interview released by A Great Big World, King discusses the journey of creating the song.

He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007, while he was a senior in college, and doctors told him that he would be completely paralyzed within seven years. By changing his diet and mindset, he was able to manage his condition, and, six years later, has little to no symptoms.

The song was originally written for Chad, but during its creation, the band realized how much it inspired everyone dealing with physical and mental disabilities, which they chose to highlight in their music video.

The main chorus of the song, “Facing forward, lights out. I won’t stop running. Falling backwards, hands tied. I won’t stop running,” inspires people to push through difficult times and continue to fight.

The emotions that A Great Big World uncovers in their music are endless. In their song “You’ll be Okay,” they sing about the struggles of the moment, inviting the pain in order to feel it and move on, promising that in the end it will all be ok. This song was built around the struggle that the two had when they were starting out. They promise to be there for their fans and urge them to carry on during difficult times.

The chorus is encouraging: “You’ll be okay. You’ll be okay. The sun will rise, to better days,” which challenges listeners to change for the better and inspires them to become who they are meant to be.

A Great Big World creates music that gives representation, inspiration and motivation to push forward in hard times. Their music is emotional and lighthearted — even when they are singing about times of struggle, they maintain a happy tone and convey encouraging messages.

At the end of May, A Great Big World announced that they are no longer working with Epic Records, which gives them a chance to be more in control of their music. With this change, they also announced the release of new music coming out this June, in honor of pride month. After releasing only a few singles since their last album release in 2015, their fans are excited to experience what they have created.

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