The “If I Ever Feel Better” lyrics presaged the unexpected long and critically acclaimed career of French disco-inflected indie rock group Phoenix. With a combination of irony and whimsy, the lyrics created a template for many future Phoenix songs to come.
“If I Ever Feel Better” was the first single from Phoenix’s fist album, “United.” The lyrics for “If I Ever Feel Better” set up much of what the world heard from the band in the coming years, from the English language delivery—the band is from France, keep in mind—to the mixture of cynicism and naiveté.
The story of the “If I Ever Feel Better” lyrics follows a classic pattern set by countless other songs that came before it. A broken-hearted man goes through his life as though he is a ghost of his former self. He listens only half-heartedly to the platitudes and advice offered by the world though knows he can count on his friends. Heard something like that before? Sure you have. It’s pretty common.
“If I Ever Feel Better” offers a handful of interesting changes to the traditional theme it approaches. First, the source of the man’s sorrow is never named. Maybe it’s an old lover, maybe it’s ennui. It’s all very typically French; it is fleeting sense of existential woe shot through with pop whimsy. Secondly, the chorus of the song addresses a new woman in the man’s life. He tells her he calls her, if he ever feels better. Interesting.
The track itself graced the closing credits to episode two of the fifth season of “Entourage.” The melancholy tone of the “If I Ever Feel Better” lyrics fit well with the tone of the episode, which sees the Vinny Chase and company at a low point in their lives. The crew is having trouble finding work and facing indifference and even hostility from the institution of Hollywood. A somber episode, a somber song, a perfect fit.
Phoenix vocalist Thomas Mars wrote the lyrics to “If I Ever Feel Better.” Typical of Mars’ lyrics, those of “If I Ever Feel Better” manage to sound both specific and vague, personal and universal at the same time. In this sense, they bring to mind lyrics from bands like ABBA and The Cardigans in their sense of pop melancholy and whimsy. Despite the sense of sadness and optimism in the lyrics, Phoenix lacks the earnestness of bands like U2 and Coldplay, and thus the lyrics come off as somewhat ironic.