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“Hard Out Here” Song Review

25 Nov

If you haven’t heard of it yet, Lily Allen’s new song “Hard Out Here” has been garnering a lot of interest as a female-empowerment song as well as a direct call-out to Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”. There are some direct shout-outs to his song/video as well as lines about sexism in general. The song has relatively low controversy, but it’s the music video that some are finding problematic. Upon writing this post, I realized that it would be too long to address everything, so I divided it into two. This first post is about the song, and the next one will be about the music video.

Via YouTube

Via YouTube

The lyrics of the song have a lot going on in them, so I’m going to deconstruct from start to finish. Just one line in, Allen uses the b word, which she continues to use for a majority of the song. Some people could complain of how using a misogynistic slur only sets feminism back, but I think this is more about a power play than anything else. If women want to use the b word and use it as empowering rather than derogatory, more power to them. I don’t really think it helps when women negatively call other women that word to bring each other down, but if you change the context of the word to turn it against people who try to use it negatively, it creates a different impact. It’s kind of how the show Queer As Folk revolved around gay characters who would constantly say f-g to each other and other gay characters. I think it’s okay to use words satirically to show that you won’t allow others to attack you with them.

The next couple of lines could be seen as problematic in a round-about sort of way. Allen states that she won’t be found in the kitchen, and that she doesn’t need to “shake her a-s” because she has a brain. This could be interpreted as shaming women who choose to be a housewife/cook through free will, not through societal standards, as well as slut shaming for women such as strippers who dance for men. The message of feminism is doing whatever you want to do, man or woman, because equality should allow everyone that freedom to choose. I don’t like the connotation of these lines, but she does say “Don’t need to shake my a** for you cause I’ve got a brain”. I’m glad she used ‘need’ rather than ‘want’, implying that people should do that because they want to, not because they feel that they have to. She also follows with “If I told you ’bout my sex life, you’d call me a slut”, so I don’t think it was her intention to imply slut-shaming with the previous line (that would be kind of backwards, wouldn’t it?).

The rest of the lines are all general observations on how society regards women, and they’re all perfectly reasonable and delivered with wonderful amounts of sarcasm and sass. She addresses double standards, beauty standards, and misconceptions of how inequality has disappeared (side-note, it hasn’t). She then has a line about someone tearing a butt in two, which is a direct hint towards a line referring to the same thing in “Blurred Lines”. Whether you think “Blurred Lines” is a good song or not, there is no way you can argue that ‘tearing a butt in two’ is not problematic; sex acts that are supposed to be pleasurable for both parties should not be referred to with violent connotations; even if it were in a BDSM or S&M context, the line is still cringe-worthy and creepy overall.

Regarding the song itself, I think it fits in with the general pop paradigm of today. On a purely musical level, there’s nothing too special or amazing about it, but it is catchy, fun, and has a rather mellow yet upbeat melody throughout. With the positive, no bs taking lyrics added in, it’s definitely an empowering song that I don’t mind getting stuck in my head once a day.

Confessions of a Scared, Guilt-Ridden Teenager

25 Jan

I got yelled at today.

By two teachers. I know, I know; it’s not an end-everything moment. But for a student who’s tried to maintain the best standard in school with my grades and teachers, it hurt. A lot. Especially since it mostly wasn’t even my fault. But let me start from the beginning. (Please note that this is purely venting and a way for me to relieve my emotions. I’m a teenager; does that mean I’m qualified to mindless gossip posts once a year? I hope so!)

I’m in an after-school orchestra (which is a class, not an extra-curricular), as well as the music honor society at my school. The orchestra meets every Thursday for about 2 hours while the honor society has 3 meetings this year. Two of those 3 meetings fall on a Thursday. Since it’s all within the music department, there’s usually an agreement between teachers for us to leave the orchestra early and go to the honor society meetings late.

This Thursday was a day when the two would coincide; this was the first meeting for the music honor society. When class began, our teacher explained that she would like us to miss the meeting for the honor society, because we’re allowed to miss one meeting a year and we had a concert coming up very quickly. I had already been planning on leaving with my friend, but I immediately checked my agenda to see if I would miss the other two meetings, to see if I could stay. I noticed that the last meeting fell on a Tuesday in April…book club meetings were on Tuesdays. I panicked. I had no idea if that was a book club day or not, but I didn’t want to take any chances since I was on the board for book club. I figured it wasn’t that big of a deal.

When the halfway mark came for people to go to the meeting, people began standing up. My teacher started going through them one by one, asking for their reason for leaving, and telling them to sit down if it wasn’t good enough. I was still sitting; I looked to the friend I was going to leave with, and she gave me a determined look. We stood up and put our violins away, and right before leaving our teacher asked us what our reason for going was. There was a class of about 60 students watching.

I said I couldn’t go to the next meeting, and was about to say it was because of book club when my friend began talking. This is when it all went downhill.

My friend has been mad at my teacher for a while now; she doesn’t like the way the teacher acts or runs her class. So in front of the entire class, she said she was leaving because she didn’t know if she could make the other two meetings, and basically said it in a very rude and sassy way.

The teacher paused. She didn’t exactly start yelling, but gave her a lecture on priorities and said very passionately that she should have planned ahead of time and been responsible. When she finished, she turned away. I was stunned. I had no idea what to do. My teacher hadn’t asked me why I was leaving, and I hadn’t said one word of disrespect. But she had turned away already…so I left. My friend and I walked out and went to the meeting, and I spent the next half hour in a panicked, mortified daze.

The moment the meeting ended, I rushed to my teacher’s room and waited for her to come out. The moment she did, I explained that I hadn’t gotten a chance to say so earlier, but that I had a book club meeting during the third honor society meeting. She explained that I’ve always been responsible about these things and that she knows it wasn’t my fault. I went home that day relieved that she wasn’t mad at me, guilty because I wasn’t even sure if there was a meeting, and still embarrassed because of my friend.

Today in my regular orchestra class, my friend and I were asked to step outside the classroom. Waiting in their office were the band and choir directors. They explained that other students had come and told them about an altercation between us and our teacher before we left for their meeting. They gave us a very stern lecture and said how our behavior was inexcusable and that they would not allow two honor society members to tarnish the name of their honor society or use it as an excuse to get out of class. I stayed completely silent the entire time, nodding with wide eyes.  My friend started arguing back again, and they explained that we are not allowed to be disrespectful towards any teacher no matter what. They said our behavior was deplorable and that we were strongly encouraged to apologize to our teacher.

After about 2 minutes, they let us go back to class. My mind was reeling. Had none of the students told them that I hadn’t said a word during the entire altercation they saw? Had my teacher not let them know that I had already apologized to her and explained myself?

I didn’t tell them that it wasn’t my fault, because I didn’t want to basically blame everything on my friend, despite the fact that she was the disrespectful one. But since it was her fault, I expected her to step up and tell them herself that I had nothing to do with it. But she didn’t. When we were walking out of their office, she gave me a short apology, and acknowledged that I had nothing to do with it, but said nothing else. She actually started crying at that point, and even though I was still mad at her I tried comforting her before we went back into class.

As soon as class ended though, as I was walking out, she came and told me that she still thought it wasn’t just our fault. She also started saying more rude and rather spiteful things about our teacher and other students, and said she refuses to apologize. I just kind of said okay and let her walk away, and didn’t really think about it again until I got home. But as many other things started adding up to a bad day (this, bad grades, family problems) I ended up breaking. I eventually cried myself to sleep and knew that I wouldn’t stop stressing about this until I wrote about it.

My feelings about everything are still mixed. I’m still worried about my reputation with other students because of everyone seeing me involved in this. I’m still angry at my friend for not having my back through this, being blinded by what I consider to be pettiness and immaturity (although I haven’t said anything to her about my feelings. If she continues to complain to me or try to bring me into anything else, I will make clear that I do not want to be involved).

She disrespected a teacher. I don’t condone this kind of behavior. In my opinion, she needs to understand that there are some things she must obey whether she likes it or not, and that she needs to hold her attitude in line to figures of authority. Also, I think her anger is mostly unjustified. What my teacher was asking of us originally was not unreasonable. My friend was simply looking for an excuse to show defiance, and I got pulled in as a side-effect.

However I do still feel guilty because in a way, even though I was in no way rude to anyone, I did do one bad thing: I left without a legitimate reason. I didn’t know if there would be a book club meeting (there isn’t one that day, by the way) but I still told them there was because I was scared. I lied, and I feel terrible about it. From this whole situation, that is the one thing I will unconditionally apologize for. I’m sorry.

I don’t know where this situation will lead; if I’ll be getting into any more trouble, or if any other aspects of my life will be affected by this. I spent all of today jumping at every phone call, thinking it was the school calling my parents to tell them about all of this. Situations like this make me really look forward to just leaving everything behind, and heading off to college for a completely fresh start. The future is always a place for redemption, and the past is a way to learn from mistakes, and I’m grateful for both to help shape me into a person who’ll know better and do better next time.

Man Down by Rihanna

20 Jun

I really love this song.

I first heard about it on Yahoo, where it was garnering controversy for having violence; a man is shot in the opening scene, and blood is shown. I went on Youtube and watched the video, and I have to say I completely disagree. Music videos now a days always have some inappropriateness; if girls can dance in bikinis why can’t a man pretend to die? In those videos they use that kind of appeal to get cheap views; but what I admire about Rihanna’s new video is the compelling and touching story behind it. I don’t want to ruin your experience, so please watch the video before reading further.

The video starts with the shooting, and even in the first few scenes you can see raw emotion in Rihanna’s face. I love how real the look of torment was, and you can almost see the conflicting emotions her character is feeling. Later on they reveal how she was sexually assaulted by the man she later kills. The lyrics tell of how she feels guilty and regrets what she did, and I love how it brings up these questions inside of you about what is morally right or wrong. Rihanna’s expressions throughout are amazingly realistic, and even haunting at some points. You can really feel guilt and anguish at some points and pain and fear at others. The video brings attention to the issue of assault in a compelling way, and I really liked the portrayal of the whole story.

Regarding the actual song, I love the kind of Jamaican feel to it. It’s great how she utilizes her natural accent to give it that nice native sort of sound. It’s a very good song by itself, and with the video it becomes an emotional powerhouse. I think the thing I loved the most about it is the revealing of the ‘mystery’. I know, the whole flashback thing to reveal the story is a little overused, but it was used perfectly in the way they did. I love when you’re shown a scene and can’t really make sense of it, but when they show you the back-story, the scene is suddenly powerful and emotional. Normally when you see someone murdering a person, you automatically assume that they are the ‘bad guy’; the evil character. But then you later see how she was the actual victim, and even acknowledges that she did a bad thing. It really shocked me when I saw that things weren’t as they had seemed, and I think that’s the part that touched me the most. And in the scenes where she is attacked, it feels like Rihanna’s eyes are speaking to you when it cuts to her in the water. It almost as if they’re saying, ‘Now you see why I did it? He hurt me and I felt defenseless; he had to pay.’

Maybe I’m a little too into the video, but for some reason it really got to me. It’s my new favorite Rihanna song, although that isn’t saying much because none of her previous songs were particularly awesome. They’re all good pop/party songs, but this one actually had a message. So what are your opinions on the music video? And do you think anything justifies murder? Let me know!

Darlin’

21 Apr

“Today is a perfect day for a perfect day”

Lovely song, and I love how the video creator added the feel-good effect to it. Hopefully it’ll act as inspiration for me to start my homework that I’ve been putting off since the start of my spring break last Saturday. Fun days: 2. Completely wasted days: 3

Must. do. homework! Word History AP Test is exactly 3 weeks away! I’m doomed.

Funny how there are only like 6 sentences in this post, yet the tone has such a drastic change by the end. This is how my mind works.

Downloading Music/Books

4 Apr

From dl4all.com

Some people find it wrong and immoral to download music. First of all, it’s illegal. Second, the artist worked hard on the song and spent a lot of money on it, which thousands of people can now get for free. But really, hasn’t music gotten unreasonable lately? I have an iPod with about 550 songs; if someone has that many songs and spends $1.29 on EACH, imagine how much that would build up. The songs would cost more than the actual iPod! Plus some songs are so popular that the artists are already cashing in millions for them; do CD and song revenue really add a significant amount?

Granted, they probably do help a ton for smaller and less popular artists. But now that the world is digitizing everything, these things can’t be helped. Consider this: once a song is made into a digital form, it is virtually cost free to duplicate that file as many times as you want. There really is no way to prevent it from spreading; people can’t be forced to buy something from you that can be reproduced at no cost. And think about the effect this will have on the world now that so many things are being digitalized! Did you know that books are next? They are going to start selling them online (or so I believe) and then the same thing will happen. People aren’t going to pay $9.99 for a free copy. I think they should stop turning things into files; music should be the last thing they touch. Book stores will become obsolete just like music stores, and many things will become less tangible. I don’t even like e-books or kindles; reading is more fun in an actual book form!

Well, I’ve kind of changed topics in this post; sorry about that. I’m really curious about other people’s opinions on this subject. DO you consider it wrong to download music for free, or is it just so expensive that you can’t force yourself to stop?

“Friday” And Pop Music

2 Apr

From EW.com

I think everyone is familiar with Rebecca Black and her infamous song Friday by now. Let me start by saying, when I first heard the song I thought it was a joke. I mean, I just saw her smiling in the video and thought “Oh man, she’s playing us!” I’m also kind of a Friday hipster (“I saw the video when it only had 1 million views!”) Haha, just kidding. Well, it’s true but nothing to brag about ^_^;

Everyone can agree that the lyrics are ridiculous (WE SO EXCITED. Let me help you out there Rebecca, and insert an ARE into your sentence before my brain explodes). But we shouldn’t really hate on the girl. She didn’t write the song, and she’s only thirteen. Alright, she could have said “You’re serious? I’m going to sing ‘Fun fun fun fun, you know what it is!’? Someone please rewrite this!” but whats happened has happened. If anything, we should blame the rapper guy who DID write the song, especially because his rap was one of the worst parts of the song (‘I’m driving, switching lanes, there’s a school bus in front of me’ >_< ).

So you must be wondering why I’m bringing her up, especially AFTER all the hype has died down. It’s because Friday, in all its horribleness, opened my eyes to pop music everywhere. I was already pretty fed up with pop music and its extreme repetitiveness and shallow lyrics. And radio stations drive me insane when they play the same song 5 times a day for 6 months. But Friday has made me realize what a downward path we really have been traveling on. Let me show you some songs that have been playing nonstop on my local radio station.

Backseat, by New Boyz:

Don’t say a word just turn around and let me see
Girl you got something special something special for me
Its way too many suckers in the VIP
Tell her got my car out front
Tell me do you wanna kick it in the backseat
I wanna get beside ya
In the backseat
So I can be your backseat driver
in the backseat
I wanna get beside ya
In the backseat
So I can be your backseat driver

I Met a group of girls in a Escalade
I Met a group of girls in a Escalade
Met met a group of girls in a Escalade
They came with you and left with me

I Met a group of girls in a Escalade
I Met a group of girls in a Escalade
Met met a group of girls in a Escalade
They came with you and left with me

(lyrics from http://www.elyrics.net/read/n/new-boyz-lyrics/back-seat-lyrics.html

It’s so repetitive you can get tired of it by listening ONE TIME. And when I’m in the shower listening to the radio, I’m helpless to turn it off as this guy talks on and on about the freaking backseat!

Blow, by Ke Dollar Sign Ha (watch the music video -_-)

This place about to blow
Blow
This place about to blow
Blow
This place about to blow
Blow
This place about to blow
Blow
This place about to-

(Lyrics from http://www.metrolyrics.com/blow-lyrics-kesha.html)

The chorus is the exact same throughout. The lyrics don’t change at all, she sings it in the exact same notes every time. And can you even call them notes? She gets through ‘This place about to’ before auto-tune completely takes over. By the way, your opinion on auto-tune? I think it can make a song great for dancing to and give it an electronic, edgy feel but it has completely taken over. Every single pop artist uses it now a days; who knows how many of them can actually sing?

S&M by Rihanna

Cause I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it
Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it
Sticks and stones may break my bones
But chains and whips excite me

(Lyrics from http://www.metrolyrics.com/sm-lyrics-rihanna.html)

I would highly recommend clicking the link to see how repetitive the lyrics are. It literally makes me shake my head.

Anyways, I would like to use this song to highlight the message behind all lyrics. Everyone’s singing about drinking, girls, partying, and going crazy. Songs should at least be somewhat meaningful; when will the industry get that we’ve had ENOUGH songs about the same old things? And this song is just as bad, and if you don’t know what S&M means then please urbandictionary it. But the lyrics I’ve posted above can tell you the gist of it. Rihanna, why are you singing about liking kinky torture? This song is going on the radio, which kids will listen to. And you know that kids will be listening to your song online, too. And this topic is a vicious circle, by the way. In the artists defense, parents should control what kids listen to and deem it appropriate or not. It’s not the singers responsibility. But when you already know that you’re not some unknown artist who is known to be for adults only, of course you’re going to have kids listening.

 

So tell me, why was Friday shunned and laughed at while these songs continuously play on our radios every hour? How are these songs any better? I mean the lyrics are a little more shaped but no song is a lyrical masterpiece. I find it ironic how we are so appalled at Friday and can’t realize that this is what our music already was. Friday isn’t a new low, it’s just the garbage that highlighted the lows of half of mainstreams music. And as for the music video; she’s in front of green screens the whole time and is very awkward, but is dancing in your underwear any better? People need to ask themselves what they value in our culture and whats important to them. People from future generations are going to look to their history and what will they find? Enrique Iglesias singing “Tonight I’m ****ing You”. Real classy.

 

In this post I have covered Friday, pop music in general, auto tune, stupid lyrics, and repetitiveness. Let me say that there are some good songs out there, even if they all have the exact same structure (Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus, Chorus; although I don’t know much about the technical terms, I’m sure you get what I mean) Some good ones are Perfect by P!nk, Who Says by Selena Gomez, and Rhythm of Love by Plain White T’s. And one song I’m really liking right now is Rolling in the Deep by Adele.

Thanks for reading this monster of a post! Let me know what you think of this subject. Subscribe, please? 🙂

Goodbye Lullaby

13 Mar

I’ve been a huge fan of Avril Lavigne since I was a little girl; my best friend had her first CD, Let Go. I remember that we would listen to it all the time and sing her songs on the bus ride home. I bought her next CD and all her songs just spoke of emotion; I could listen to her for whichever mood I was in. She basically disappeared until 2007 when her new CD came out, and it was definitely a new side. I didn’t appreciate all those people complaining that she’d changed; she still had her meaningful songs like Keep Holding On, Innocence, and When You’re Gone. There were just more fun and upbeat songs like He Wasn’t on this album.

Naturally, I’ve been really longing for her new CD and was delighted that a majority were available for download (more on that topic coming soon). I really like the soft and relaxed tone of this album; the choruses are a bit simple and repetitive but that’s why it’s relaxing. No crazy electric guitar or hardcore drums, just mainly acoustic guitar strumming, string instruments, and vocals. One song that I really loved is Stop Standing There; the lyrics completely reflected things that have been on my mind lately. I was stunned when I heard it for the first time because it just absolutely summed up my thoughts.

So as a closing note, I’m super psyched about this album and I’ll probably purchase all the songs that I couldn’t download. Anyone else a fan of Avril? I’d love to hear your thoughts!