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Moonlight (Original)

Type: Official
Writers: Grace VanderWaal, Ido Zmishlany
Times Performed: 135
Play on Spotify
Play Official Video

Notes

“The story is about someone going through depression and seeing the way they are changing and kind of that fake altered personality, it’s about walking down memory lane and remembering just last year, of feeling so magical, like you were almost dancing in the moonlight.” (Grace in short “behind the scenes “video shown as part of the VEVO watch party for the moonlight release, released July 20, 2017)

“That was one of the first songs that I made to my new album and it was so much fun to make. Moonlight itself happened in a day, but then there is, you know, the mastering, the producing, the e-mailing – “oh how do you think of this?” Or “more choir?” and “I don’t really like this”… I wrote it and produced it with Ido, I actually did a lot of the album with him, he is very, very talented. I like him a lot, and he has a very unique quality and sound to – whatever he does on the computer. I had never heard one of my songs produced and like be able to have that power and control, and it was very fun to just experiment with it. It kind of just started with the first line actually, which usually doesn’t happen.” (MTV Push December Artist of the Month, released Dec. 8, 2017)

“This was my first writing session with a producer/writer named Ido. I was super-duper awkward and super weird, I was like [with a small voice] “are we like … going to create a song now?” I have never been in love; I have never done most of the things I say in my songs. But this one – Moonlight – actually is a specific story. I knew someone struggling with mental health. At the time it was still going on – now it’s all good, she’s all good. When someone’s going through that, they are not them anymore, they lose that spark. Things like that don’t go away, and it only escalates and watching that – it’s so hard to watch that – I liked to try and put that in the song.” ("Moonlight" Official Lyrics & Meaning | Verified, Genius.com, released Nov. 2, 2017)

“… in chronological order of the song, we kept sticking on this pre-chorus that we wanted, and I was really attached to this pre-chorus, but we ultimately decided it sounded better without it. [and this pre-chorus became unfixable minds]. … It’s a visual song, that’s what makes it good. It’s almost like watching a movie in your mind when you hear it. I think it’s a kind of story effect, about walking down memory lane and thinking about just last year and [it] feeling so magical. Interviewer: Was it inspired by your personal experience specifically? Or was it a friend that was dealing with it? Grace: A friend. (Interview with Nilina Mason-Campbell, for Rookie Magazine Aug. 20, 2017)

Years later, in an interview with Jordan Sparks for a “Stronger Than You Think” fundraiser, about mental health issues, Grace revealed the the "friend" was in fact her sister Olivia:

“Moonlight was a really – I was like 13 when I wrote that song, and still, honestly, I can say that that’s the only “older” song of mine that to this day I still admire. It was such a beautiful release for me. The inspiration behind – what’s interesting about me or my life is, I have never personally struggled with addiction or mental health, yet it has been such a massive component of my life, for most of my life. And a big part of that is my sister has struggled with mental health for a very, very large portion of my life. To see that kind of firsthand and live through that for so many years and like completely, really understanding for what it really [is]. I feel like specifically, mental health is such a misunderstood topic, and it’s like, it’s so hard to even explain it, or explain why it’s portrayed wrong, till you’ve lived through it. And I feel like even that song doesn’t fully do it justice, but that was the inspiration behind it.” (Grace VanderWaal interviewed by Jordan Sparks for the “Stronger Than You Think” fundraiser, May 27, 2020)

In the Genius.com video quoted above, Grace proceeds to break down the song:

Verse 1: You know, classic, “always happy”, “stay positive” – no one’s always happy, no one’s always positive, don’t pull that mask over you, you know.

Pre-chorus: I love dolls, and creepy old antique dolls, I’m obsessed with them. I have brought them in [to] a lot of my old songs as well. People are just seeing that perfect face and the perfect doll and being like “oh – it’s all good” like “you’re still you, “nothing is going on”, “her!? No, she is like the happiest girl alive”. I almost saw, like a shelf, like an old doll, starting to tip over the edge.

Chorus: “Dancing in the moonlight” and this beautiful dance party is like one of the most cliché things. You’re looking back on that person and remembering them having that spark. You miss that so much that you kind of change the memory to feel so magical.

Verse 2: When you are someone having this little “fake” life, it’s kind of about that fake life almost completely taking over, and it’s not even like you get those little glimpses anymore. She’s lost, and this mask is starting to just eat her up and kind of become her.

Bridge: It’s a hard thinking about mental health and those kinds of situations, t they are so unique. I know everyone say this but get some help man! It honestly helps a lot. It might seem like they might not need it at the time, or it might seem like it’s finally starting to work out, I am finally starting to see them. But that’s usually not how it works. You usually need, you know, professional help.

("Moonlight" Official Lyrics & Meaning | Verified, Genius.com, released Nov. 2, 2017)

REVIEW: “On ‘Moonlight’, Vanderwaal showcases her beautiful, distinct voice. The cracks and nuances provide ample character. The production keeps things simple, with a signature ukulele-driven sound. This simplicity is smart; it doesn’t overpower or take away from Vanderwaal herself. The form is rock-solid – verses, pre-chorus, chorus, post-chorus, and bridge. The pre-chorus sets up and foreshadows an incredibly fun and catchy chorus, the highlight of the song.” (Review, The Musical Hype Nov. 8, 2017)

Moonlight is one of the three songs used by choreographer Kristin McQuaid to make dance videos based on Grace's music. The other two are "Light the Sky" and "Florets" (See more here)

On the Music video
"I came up with the concept. This is the way I told my idea to Columbia: Intro, Intro, I’m walking down, I’m walking down – oh so grunge, tough life, singing, singing, singing, then all of a sudden – Bridge, running up the stairs, get to the rooftop, sad, remember last year when I told you, DANCING IN THE MOONLIGHT! Then party, party, then it’s over. A lot of the time when I hear the songs produce, it’s like a movie in my mind, I can literally watch the music video in my mind. I literally see it with the cuts and everything." (Interview with Kevan Kenny, Billboard Aug. 11, 2017 After her Billboard livestream performance (performance# 105))

On an IG live in June 2021 Grace explained why she had not sung Moonlight for quite some time: “I feel like I can barely sing that song anymore, unless I was screaming it like a freaking rock song. My voice dropped when I hit puberty and it was so high when I made that song and haven’t sung that song in a really long time.



Performances

2017.06.17 Perfectly Imperfect release event (Tower Records) Fragment (10s)
2017.06.21 YouTube Vidcon (Anaheim Convention Centre) This is the first ful performance of Moonlight that we have video of. Grace performed it once before in Japan on June 17.
2017.07.06 Shops At Nanuet Concert Series (Shops At Nanuet )
2017.07.16 Starkey Hearing Foundation So the World May Hear Awards Gala (River Centre) 1:18 m composed of several smaller clips
2017.07.20 VEVO Watch Party (Times Square)
2017.07.20 Moonlight video release Party (Sony Square) Taken up front from the right.
2017.08.07 Billboard Livestream (Times Square)
2017.08.14 Interview & Performance Radio Disney (Radio Disney Studios) Fragment (10s)
2017.08.16 AGT Live Show Results Season 12 (Dolby Theatre)
2017.08.25 AMP Radio's Switch Party (AMP Radio Detroit) Part of (36s) 
2017.08.29 Interview & Performance Q102 Philly (Q102 Philly) Fragment
2017.08.30 Interview & Performance 95.7 Fresh FM (CBS DC Green Room)
2017.08.31 The Kane Show - HOT 99.5 (WIHT studios)
2017.09.04 Live with Kelly and Ryan (ABC Studios)
2017.09.15 AGT Facebook Live (Dolby Theatre)
2017.09.18 The Ellen Show (Warner Bros. Studios)
2017.09.20 WE Day (The Theatre at Madison Square Garden) Taken from front and center
2017.09.22 107.5 The River (107.5 The River WRVW-FM)
2017.10.07 Austin City Limits (Week 1) (Zilker Park)
2017.10.14 Austin City Limits (week 2) (Zilker Park)
2017.10.18 WE Day (Rogers Arena)
2017.10.25 Hope for Change in Ramapo political party (Lafayette Theatre) Fragment (25s) 
2017.10.27 Q-Topia 2017 (Ameris Bank (formerly Verizon) Amphitheater) At start of video (Facebook so no timestamps) 
2017.11.01 Team USA WinterFest #100 Day countdown (Times Square)
2017.11.03 Megyn Kelly Today (NBC Studios)  
2017.11.05 The Troubadour Just the Beginning Tour
2017.11.08 WE Day (Xcel Energy Centre)
2017.11.08 Mall of America
2017.11.13 Irving Plaza Just the Beginning Tour
2017.11.15 Park West Just the Beginning Tour
2017.11.26 HMW and Books Miniconcert (HMV and Books)
2017.11.30 Billboard Women in Music Awards (The Ray Dolby Ballroom)
2017.12.04 MTV Push December Artist of the Month (MTV Studios)
2017.12.05 FLY 92.3 Not So Silent Night (Palace Theatre)
2017.12.07 98.5 KRZ Let it Show 2017 (F.M. Kirby Centre for the Performing Arts)
2017.12.08 Interview w/ Goody ZIP FM (Goody Zip FM) No video (only sound)
2017.12.09 K104’s Not So Silent Night (The Chance Theatre)
2017.12.12 TV Groove Interview (Studio)
2018.01.20 Private Acoustic Concert (Bean Runner Cafe)
2018.02.05 The Sinclair Just the Beginning Tour
2018.02.05 Honda Stage, Brooklyn Art Library
2018.02.07 9:30 Club Just the Beginning Tour Part of (1m2s). Some distortion on sound. Lightly edited
2018.02.09 Cannery Ballroom Just the Beginning Tour Fragment (16s) 
2018.02.10 Terminal West Just the Beginning Tour Part of (2m)
2018.02.12 Warehouse Live Just the Beginning Tour
2018.02.13 Trees Just the Beginning Tour
2018.02.16 Bluebird Theatre Just the Beginning Tour
2018.02.20 Slim's Just the Beginning Tour Part of (1:51m)
2018.02.22 Hawthorn Theatre Just the Beginning Tour
2018.02.23 Neumos Just the Beginning Tour Taken from side of stage - balcony, some chatting and noise. Goes for all version 1s here.
2018.03.23 Concert for Dreams (Beacon Theatre)
2018.03.26 At home About one verse of song
2018.04.19 Sony Music private event (In the city)  
2018.04.21 MVCC Cultural Series (Mohawk Valley Community College) Just the Beginning Tour Partly in Black and White (goes for all items in setlist)
2018.05.04 Freddie Porter Scholarship Fund Beefsteak Dinner (Three Saints Orthodox Church Cultural Centre)
2018.06.05 Xfinity Theatre Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.06.06 Xfinity Centre Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.06.06 NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert (NPR studios)
2018.06.08 Darling's Waterfront Pavillion Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons) Part (48s)
2018.06.09 PNC Bank Arts Centre Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.06.11 St. Josephs's Health Amphitheater Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons) All Recorded by Grace's mom
2018.06.13 Budwesier Stage Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.06.14 Budwesier Stage Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.06.16 Hershey Park Stadium Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons) Beginning of song is missing. A bit awkward camera position, taken over barrier in front of stage (all items)
2018.06.17 Blossom Music Centre Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.06.19 Madison Square Garden Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.06.21 DT Energy Music Centre Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons) Fragment (20s) 
2018.06.22 Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Centre Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.06.24 Century Link Centre Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.06.26 Denny Sanford Premier Centre Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons) Fragment (26s) 
2018.06.27 Summerfest (American Family Insurrance Amphitheater) Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.06.29 Saratoga Performing Arts Centre Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.07.02 Jiffy Lube Live Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons) Fragment (13s) 
2018.07.03 Veterans United Home Loan Amphitheater Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.07.05 Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creck Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)  
2018.07.07 Colonial Life Arena Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.07.08 Brandon Amphitheater Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.07.10 Bridgestone Arena Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons) Fragment (15s) 
2018.07.11 Hollywood Casino Amphitheater Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.07.13 Hollywood Casino Amphitheater Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.07.14 Sprint Centre Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons) Part of (1m17s)
2018.07.16 Red Rocks Amphitheater Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons) Fragment (21s) 
2018.07.18 Isleta Amphitheater Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.07.21 The Forum Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons) Part of (1 Minute) (good sound but blured out picture) 
2018.07.22 GRAMMY Spotlight (The GRAMMY Museum LA)
2018.07.22 The Forum Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.07.24 Concord Pavillion Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons) Fragment (34s) 
2018.07.26 Bobcat Stadium Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons) Recorded a bit to close to the speakers, so some distortion (goes for the whole set)
2018.07.28 Loveloud - Concert (Rice-Eccles Stadium) Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.07.30 INTRUST Bank Arena Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons) Fragment (15s) 
2018.08.01 BOK Centre Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons) Part of (1m) 
2018.08.02 Austin 360 Amphitheater Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.08.04 Cynthia Woods Mitchel Pavillion Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons) Part of (1m) 
2018.08.05 Smoothie King Centre Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons) Fragment (27s) 
2018.08.07 The Wharf Amphitheater Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons)
2018.08.09 Coral Sky Amphitheater Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons) Fragment (15s) 
2018.08.10 MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater Evolve Tour (Imagine Dragons) Taken from very far away! (all items)
2018.08.15 At home Part of (1m40s)
2019.02.21 Stray Release Event (The Slipper Room)
2019.05.31 CAL Polytech "Spring Fever" Sunset Concert (California Polytech University, University Union Plaza) Recorded by Tina Vanderwaal from high up to left side of the stage (all version 1s)
2019.06.05 Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creck High as Hope Tour (Florence & The Machine)  
2019.06.06 Ameris Bank (formerly Verizon) Amphitheater High as Hope Tour (Florence & The Machine) Part of (1m56s) 
2019.06.08 Amway Centre High as Hope Tour (Florence & The Machine)
2019.06.09 American Airlines Arena High as Hope Tour (Florence & The Machine) Part of (57s) 
2019.06.26 World of McIntosh X Farfetch's Sunset Sessions (World of McIntosh)
2019.06.27 Roling Stones
2019.08.10 Railbird Festival (The grounds of Keeneland Racetrack) Ur so Beautiful Tour
2019.08.11 Orange Peel Ur so Beautiful Tour
2019.08.13 Cannery Ballroom Ur so Beautiful Tour Fragment (15s) 
2019.08.14 Variety Playhouse Ur so Beautiful Tour Part of (1m49s) beginning at 2:31 (Facebook video so no timestamps) 
2019.08.16 Granada Theatre Ur so Beautiful Tour
2019.08.17 Emo's Ur so Beautiful Tour
2019.08.18 Warehouse Live Ur so Beautiful Tour
2019.08.21 The van Buren Ur so Beautiful Tour
2019.08.22 El Rey Theatre Ur so Beautiful Tour Taken from far away
2019.08.25 The Observatory Ur so Beautiful Tour
2019.08.27 El Rey Theatre Ur so Beautiful Tour
2019.08.28 El Rey Theatre Ur so Beautiful Tour
2019.08.29 The Fillmore Ur so Beautiful Tour
2019.09.01 The Depot Ur so Beautiful Tour Fragment (15s) 
2019.09.02 Washington's Ur so Beautiful Tour Part od (30s) at 0:34 
2019.09.03 Bluebird Theatre Ur so Beautiful Tour
2019.09.06 Varsity Theatre Ur so Beautiful Tour
2019.09.07 Park West Ur so Beautiful Tour
2019.09.09 Saint Andrews Hall Ur so Beautiful Tour Part of (59s) 
2019.09.11 The Opera House Ur so Beautiful Tour
2019.09.13 Royale Ur so Beautiful Tour
2019.09.14 College Street Music Hall Ur so Beautiful Tour
2019.09.16 Theatre of Living Arts Ur so Beautiful Tour Fragment (28 sec) beginning is missing 
2019.09.17 Webster Hall Ur so Beautiful Tour
2019.09.19 The National Ur so Beautiful Tour Part of (43s) 
2019.09.20 9:30 Club Ur so Beautiful Tour
2019.09.21 Rams Head Live! Ur so Beautiful Tour
2019.11.24 Wonderfront Festival (Uncle Ed's D*mn Good Vodka Stage)

Reviews, Reactions etc.

Type Comment Link
Behind the songGrace breaks down "Moonlight" for MTV
Behind the songGrace breaks down song on Genius
Behind the songA video premiere, plus a chat about happiness
Behind the songGrace introduces the song at the Honda Stage performance
Behind the songBehind the song
Behind the scenes - videoFrom the Vevo Watch party
Behind the scenes - videoGrace dips her head in cheesecake after finishing the video-shoot
Song reviewThis is a song that you will find yourself singing in the shower or humming throughout the day
Song reviewThe song is incredibly enjoyable
Reaction to songSinger and music coach Nina Schofield
Reaction to songiamsymphony
Reaction to songBreakdown of Grace's performance of the song
Use in movies, TV-shows etc,"For the Electronic Arts game The Sims 4, a unique version of ‘Moonlight’ was included and available within the Cats and Dogs expansion pack. Recorded by Grace in Simlish (gibberish substituted for an actual language) the song used the original instrument and backing vocal tracks. Though this expansion pack also introduced the ‘Singer/Songwriter’ radio station, ‘Moonlight’ is accessible in-game as radio station music on the ‘Pop’ channel. Other artists to re-record their songs in Simlish for the series of games include Katy Perry, 5 Seconds of Summer, Jason Derulo, My Chemical Romance, and Carly Rae Jepsen." (The VanderVault 2019-03-02) In a TikTok post from Jan, 10, 2021 (deleted soon after), Grace talked about recording the Simlish" version. Someone from the game developer came to teach her how to speak it so she wouldn't accidentally cuss in some other language.
Use in movies, TV-shows etc, Kristin McQuaid's Dance video

Singles & Albums

Release Date Record Type Track
2017-06-21MoonlightSingle1
2017-11-03Just the BeginningLP1
2017-11-03Just the Beginning (Target version)LP1
2017-11-10Just the Beginning (Japanese version)LP1

Lyrics

Oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh

Oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh

She always has a smile
from morning to the night
The perfect poster-child
that was once in my life

A doll made out of glass
all her friends think that she’s great
But I can see through it all
and she’s about to break

Remember last year when you told me
to always stay here, and never leave me
the light from your eyes made it feel like
we were dancing in the moonlight.
Remember last year when you told me
that these would be lifelong stories
the light from your eyes made it feel like
we were dancing in the moonlight

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
You were dancing in the moonlight
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
And I was dancing in the moonlight

Now she lost her way
and she forgets to smile
Never gets a break
from this life in denial

A doll made out of glass
All her friends think that she’s great
But I can see through it all
and she’s about to break Oh!

Remember last year when you told me
to always stay here, and never leave me
The light from your eyes made it feel like
we were dancing in the moonlight.

Remember last year when you told me
that these would be lifelong stories
The light from your eyes made it feel like
we were dancing in the moonlight

You were dancing in the moonlight
And I was dancing in the moonlight

I-I-I miss those me-mo-ries
We used to share, just you and me

I remember last year when I told you
I would always stay here and never leave you
I told you the light in your eyes made it look like
we were dancing in the moonlight
Remember last year when you told me
to always stay here, and never leave me
The light from your eyes made it feel like
we were dancing in the moonlight
Oh
The light from your eyes made it feel like

Dancing in the moonlight

Transcription provided by the VanderVault (www.VanderVault.org)
© SME (on behalf of Columbia); Sony ATV Publishing
For non-commercial use only.

Covers and Remixes

Type Comment Link
Cover and Remixes of Grace's songs by other artistsHOLIDAY FANCLUB //// Virtual Insanity / Moonlight /// mashup Mashup of Virtual Insanity (Jamiroquai) and Moonlight (Grace VanderWaal (Mostly Moonlight)
Cover and Remixes of Grace's songs by other artistsDance remix by DJ and producer BKAYE