For the music video for this song, see: What You Want (music video)
"What You Want" is the first track on Evanescence's third studio album Evanescence.
Background and development Edit
"What You Want" was written by Amy Lee, Terry Balsamo, and Tim McCord in New York City and the production was handled by Nick Raskulinecz. During an interview with MTV News in June, Lee talked about the song saying, " the song that I think is the first single is the song that wraps it all up. It's got a cool meaning, a lot of great lyrics going on, it also just smacks you right in the face and it's heavy and it's great." She noted that the song was a departure from the band's previous material and acknowledged that they wanted the new single to be "more than a hit".
Lee stated the song was inspired by and talked about her relationship with the band's fans, and the realization that following a music career "is what I'm supposed to do". She also explained that the theme of the song was freedom, saying that the song's lyric "Remember who you really are" was "exactly everything you could assume it means". Another inspiration for the song came from Lee's life, "That song is me talking to myself about not being afraid and coming back to this thing and living the life I was born to live. Sometimes, it takes a lot to do this. And I do love it very much, but there is always that fear of putting yourself under the microscope."
Speaking about the sound, Lee described "What You Want" as "very danceable" and her own vocals as "fun and snappy and it gives a cool dynamic [to the song]". Lee stated that the process of recording the song was fun for the band as they had excess time. She said that initially the song was conceived while the band was just recording demo, but as time passed it progressed and grew into something more. She wrote a chorus for "What You Want" and played it on the piano. Lee revealed that she was initially embarrassed when she came up with the lyrics and the melody of the song as she thought the members of her band would think she was Janet Jackson due to the usage of a hook. During an interview with M Music & Musicians Lee revealed that she wouldn't have recorded the song if it had been brought to her before the recording of Evanescence as she would have thought it was "stupid".
"What You Want" contains a variety of musical elements and influences of several music genres: industrial rock, rock gothic pop, nu metal, classic synthpop, electro-pop dance and baroque metal along with a pop hook. Several critics noted that some of the gothic and metal elements were prominent in the band's previous material, mostly due to their songs' piano-driven melody. Lewis Corner of the website Digital Spy noted that the classical strings present in the song reinforced the band's medieval influences. Dane Prokofiev of PopMatters further compared the song with Korn's music while Rick Florino of Artistdirect noted similarities to works by Depeche Mode. The song's beat was further described as dynamic, "slamming" and loud. As the song progresses, the melody goes through "dramatic crashes" and crescendos.
"What You Want" opens with rapid drums and soon moves into a guitar-driven mode, accompanied by synthesizers. Throughout the song, Lee uses "pseudo operatic" and "poppy" vocals. In the opening lines, she sings: "Do what you, what you want / If you have a dream for better / Do what you, what you want / 'Til you don't want it anymore." Those sounds are followed by a hard rock surging guitar and strings which were noted to be part of the band's characteristic sound. The chorus is instrumentally complete with crashing cymbals, "thrashing, high-wired rawk" guitars, electric guitars, keyboards and piano as Lee sings, "Hello, hello, remember me? I’m everything you can’t control / Somewhere beyond the pain there must be a way to believe we can break through." At the end of the song, Lee shouts the hook "Do what you, what you want," as her vocals are echoed and eventually fade away. Laurie Tuffrey of NME summarized the song as a "standard goth-pop fare, full of rapid drum breaks, swathes of fuzzy riffing and a catchy, chant-friendly chorus." Overally, Scott Shetler of Pop Crush described its production as "polished".
Several critics interpreted the song's lyrics during their reviews. Its theme was noted to be about freedom. Jason Lipshutz of Billboard said that in the song, Lee is "trying to convince a romantic partner to stop 'spiraling down, down, down' and help her find a new beginning." Kerrang! writer Steve Beebee wrote that Lee reaches a conclusion that "Love will guide you home." Talking about the lyrical content of the song, Laurie Tuffrey of NME opined: "It's quite hard to tell what the song's about, with lots of references to 'the unknown' and 'the pain', and it confusingly switches between suggesting people 'do what you want you want, if you have a dream for better' in the first verse and the decidedly creepier final chorus where Lee seemingly gets an ex-lover on the blower, only to tell them 'Hello, hello, it’s only me, infecting everything you love'."
Music video Edit
The filming of the music video for "What You Want" started on July 30, 2011 in a warehouse in Brooklyn, New York, and it
was directed by Meiert Avis. The video featured the band's fans who played a crowd on a concert by Evanescence. During an interview, Lee revealed that the music video for the song was one of the band's "realest" videos adding, "[...] this is more a personal video. We've done a lot in the past that [were] very 'fantasy,' and this is sort of the real us.[...] I just wanted to do something that really felt personal for a change. Obviously, I'm wearing crazy makeup, and that's not my everyday, but, you know, I want ... to connect with the fans again. We all do. We miss them. A lot of this record is about them, and that's why they're going to be here and be in it, too." In an interview with MTV News, she described the concept of the video:
However, before the filming of the video, the band was still finishing the album and when the time to shoot the video came, Lee didn't conceive an idea about how it should look like. As she felt the song was different for the band, Lee knew that they didn't want to "go the classic, sort of fantastic, epic [thing]." Lee asked her sister Carrie to help her around the concept of the video. Her sister said that they should film the video for the song in New York and Lee agreed with her idea, "She just started saying things that were right on. She was like, 'This should be in New York. You guys need to do something different, this song feels different.' And she started talking about running across the Brooklyn Bridge, and it being where I live, and I was like, 'Oh my God, this is great.'" However, the final shot of the video filmed at Coney Island was Lee's own idea. The shot represented the band coming back in the world and "heading into the unknown, coming into a new world".