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Alice Merton imagines a club night with a “Mr. Brightside” twist in new “Vertigo” single

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Paper Plane Records

It’s been a very long time for many people since the last time they were in a nightclub. For Alice Merton, though, that hasn’t been the worst thing in the world.

The “No Roots” singer tells ABC Audio, her new single, “Vertigo,” was inspired by a pre-pandemic trip to a Berlin club for a friend’s birthday party.

“I… don’t really go to clubs,” Merton admits. “I get very nervous in big crowds, or small crowds, or just any crowds, and small rooms and loud music and strobe [lights].”

“Just before we got in, I started feeling very dizzy,” Merton recalls. “[I] felt very sick, and went home.”

However, that failed night-out attempt proved to be a solid background for a song.

“I imagined what the night would’ve been like if I’d actually gone in the club and met all these really strange characters that you would meet in Berlin clubs,” Merton explains.

Fittingly, “Vertigo” is filled with hazy, strange and dreamy language, but there’s one line in the chorus that brings the whole song back to Earth: “He’s dancing now with someone he met.”

“That is the only line that kind of brings you back to this little feeling of, OK, this could be reality, there’s actually a little bit of truth to this,” Merton says. “But then everything else takes you into this really wacky kind of world where you just don’t really know what’s reality and what’s not.”

When Merton sings that line, you can almost hear Brandon Flowers‘ pained, elongated declaration of “Jealousy” from The Killers‘ classic “Mr. Brightside,” a possible subconscious reference to one of her all-time favorite bands.

“I don’t think I did it intentionally,” Merton says. “But I love just that scenery that Brandon painted in that song.”

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