While I was stocking shelves the other day I found myself contemplating one of the many craptacular tracks that fill the silence as the background score to my minimum wage job. This isn’t anything new. For the most part I don’t process whatever inoffensive, easy listening, pop track happens to be crooning through the air at any given moment, but every once in a while a lyric will jump out at me. Be it funny, nonsensical, or ignorantly derogatory. I’ll find myself paused with a look of scrunched up scrutinization, striving to confirm if I indeed just heard what I thought I heard.
That’s the beauty and the curse of having a job that lets you work on autopilot: your mind is free to wander. If you’re a critical over thinker like myself this leads to many hours of the week spent over analyzing meaningless, filler lyrics in popular songs. When you start dissecting the lyrics of top forty hits like you’re translating Shakespeare’s sonnets you start to notice just how misguided and shallow they really are. I can tell you that there are no songs more superficial and insulting than modern love songs. If we lived in a strange parallel universe where music could be used as a murder weapon you couldn’t even drown an infant in the thin sheen of perspiration that is the emotional depth of catchy love ballads. And I hear a baby can drown in as little as one inch of water so that’s quite the feat.
There however, are only two songs that stick out in my mind that are as shallow as Kanye West’s understanding of music beyond the works of Beyoncé. Two songs that are not only shallow but ignorantly misguided. that make me progressively more angry every time I hear them.
Steal My Girl – One Direction
Everybody wanna steal my girl
Everybody wanna take her heart away
Couple billion in the whole wide world
Find another one ’cause she belongs to me
Lets start with the song that inspired this post. I’m not trying to anger “directioners” or take cheap shots at them for being a mediocre boy band (I DID own every N’Sync CD after all…), I honestly didn’t even know it was One Direction I was listening to ten minutes ago when I looked up the song for the sake of this entry. I just assumed it was some one hit pop group I’d never hear from again, like Hedley, Fun. or MAGIC!.
I have two big gripes with this song. The first is that someone can steal your significant other and the second is that if someone could steal your significant other that there would be anything you could do about it.
I’m a little confused about how anyone sees this song as romantic, but than again I subscribe to more Holly Golightly ideology when it comes to ownership and romance.
You can’t steal a person. A person isn’t a piece of property. They have their own thoughts, feelings and motivations and no amount of charm, sex appeal, or gifts can override that fact. If someone leaves you they were always going to leave you for reasons that are entirely their own. If someone else comes along while you’re still together than they were just the perfect opportunity to dump your ass. Unless someone is literally kidnapping your girlfriend and holding her against her will, she isn’t being stolen.
The tune isn’t so much a love song as it is the musical equivalent of a dog marking it’s territory or a 5 year old calling dibs. The narrator is staking his claim over his generic, non-specific, insert your name here, girlfriend. I guess the sentiment they’re trying to convey is that you, young girl buying their record, are just so damn amazing that every boy wants you but that 1D only share amongst each other so those other guys are shit out of luck. Of all the “couple billion in the whole wide world” they chose you and they paid your dowry fair and square so now it’s time to meet your sister wives. Congrats girl! You earned it. After all, you must be some girl if the only thing your boyfriend has to say about you is that you “be my queen” and that you know how to wear a pair of jeans.
Her walk is so mean
And every jaw drop
When she’s in those jeans,
I get it! He loves you because being seen with you makes other dudes jealous! The bitch is arm candy. “Dat ass”, is literally the only specific reason given for why she’s so great and why he loves her. Everything else said throughout the song singing his fair lady’s praises is just some cliche, flowery words about how “the sun doesn’t shine” when she’s not there because every guy who’s looking to hang onto his philandering trophy girlfriend has used that line.
Gallery – Mario Vazquez
I can’t take
Seeing you with him
‘Cause I know exactly what you’ll be,
In his gallery
Just not fair
And it’s tearing me apart
You’re just another priceless work of art
In his gallery
For some reason despite never hearing this song when it was released 5 years ago I’m now forced to listen to it three times, a day five days a week. It’s a song about unrequited love/lust that’s sung by a guy who looks like a poor man’s Wilmer Valderrama, something I didn’t know was even possible.
Vazquez sings about his crush on this chick who’s already involved with someone else but not in a cute Taylor Swift way as much as a MRA “friendzoned” kinda way. Her boyfriend has money. Like a lot of money and that’s Vazquez number one issue with the guy. That and he’s a player with “a whole wall of ’em just like [her]”. It’s unclear if her man is a cheater or just kind of a man whore but when the whole song is about trying to convince the object of his affection/boner that he’s such a nice guy, it’s hard to take his complaints about the guy as an objective observation as opposed to a hard held belief that girls only go for jerks and that any guy getting laid more than you is automatically a douche bag.
Lets give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe this guy she’s with is a throbbing pustule of a human being. That still doesn’t make up for the narrator’s own short comings. Like the self righteous hypocrisy that populates every second line of the song. Before we get into that can I just ask: Mario, if this girl is only with this other asshole for the money, as you claim, than why the fuck would you want to be with her anyway?
She knows she deserves more
Someone who will love and adore
But his money’s hard to ignore
If she’s the kind of girl who warrants questions like , “Tell me is the money worth your soul?”, than she’s probably not what they call ‘marriage material’. She’s a gold digger. They call people like that gold diggers.
My favourite part is the copious layers of irony. And oh, is it glaring. He’s so mad that this guy, who’s got his girl, isn’t treating her as well as she deserves. This other guy is only interested in her for her appearance. Then Vazquez using lyrics like these to legitimatize his love:
And girl you’re just way too fine
Gotta be treated as one of a kind
You’re a masterpiece
I know that he
Can’t appreciate your beauty
Don’t let him cheapen you
He don’t see you like i do
Beautiful not just for show
Time that someone let you know
It’s not her intelligence, her sense of humour, or PS4 skills that he’s interested in. If he is, he certainly doesn’t bother to mention any of that. And how could he when he’s too busy focusing on how attractive she is.
Then there’s the art gallery metaphor which was supposed to be flattering and sensitive but all it really does is dehumanize the woman in question. He puts her on a pedestal instead addressing her like a real person. Some lines imply that he knows putting women on a pedestal is wrong. That’s what the guy she’s with is doing and he sees that that’s not right but what he fails to see is that he’s doing the exact same thing. If she stays with her boyfriend than all she’ll ever be is “another priceless work of art” which isn’t cool because what she actually is a “masterpiece” that only Vazquez can can truly see.
The the blatant lack of self awareness is enough to force your eyes into an infinite loop of rolling.