"Equality Anthems" in the 2010s | The Popjustice Forum

"Equality Anthems" in the 2010s

Discussion in 'Pop & Justice' started by sushimuffin, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. So I'm noticing a trend. As many of you have also noticed, the last year has seen a fascinating number of pop songs aimed specifically at empowering various groups, usually "the gays." From Katy Perry's "Firework" to both of Pink's Greatest Hits singles to Ke$ha's "We R Who We R" and now to Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," I'm curious as to what some of your thoughts are on these songs and this direction.

    In the "Born This Way" thread, I know at least yearscomeandgo has made some interesting posts about the song seeming to hold onto antiquated notions of what it means to be gay, and especially given the current speed (and sometimes ridiculousness) of the "Born This Way" thread, I thought opening up a thread that not only addresses issues related to that song, but a broader trend in pop music at the moment might be helpful.

    As for me, I recently siphoned away a few hours of my life to writing a piece about this, with "Born This Way" as a jumping point for a broader discussion about culture and belief.

    http://treeofheartsahumanblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/born-this-way-yes-if-youre-american.html

    It's probably entirely too long for some of you (no offense: I realize the Internet feeds on micro-transactions of attention), but the gist is that the whole idea of being "born this way" as it applies to gays and lesbians is culturally influenced. If you do bother to read the article, take note: I am not saying that homosexuality is a choice. I'm just pointing out that politics and science have collided on this issue in interesting ways, with pop music (interestingly) throwing its two cents in for good measure.

    A lot of these issues are (presumably) beyond the scope of a pop music forum, so my specific questions are these:

    1. Do you like "empowering" (slash "real-world") messages in your pop songs? Or would you rather they just stay "in the club"?

    2. Do you think such messages make a difference in the world? Or are pop stars deluding themselves into thinking they do?

    3. Why do you think these recent "equality anthems" have been so popular? Are they just good songs? Is it because most were penned by known hitmakers, such as Max Martin and Dr. Luke?

    4. Am I making something out of nothing? Do a spate of songs like "Fuckin' Perfect," "Firework," and "Born This Way" strike you as nothing new? (Note: The videos to these songs must be watched to get the full effect. For instance with the "Fuckin' Perfect" video, it's the specific marriage of lyrics with images that creates what I'm talking about here).

    Finally: it would be best if we could limit the discussion to this specific trend rather than whether or not you think Lady Gaga's new single is shit or not.
     
  2. I think Pink's singles are aimed more at the underdog. She isn't shouting about quality, she's more or less giving an anthem to those who feel like outcasts or those who feel the don't belong. That's the way i see it.
    Pinks 2 songs have been hits because people strongly relate to it's audience. We've all felt like the underdog, we're not good enough once in a while. The lyrics connect.

    Ke$ha on the other hand, i think it's totally down to the music. She can go on and on about the meaning behind the lyrics but we all know, it wouldn't be a hit without the production behind it.
     
  3. There is absolutely nothing new about so-called 'self-help' pop songs. And I like all the above, though none of them really qualify as an 'anthem' do they?
     
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  5. The smartest thing I've read about the problems with Born This Way being pushed as a gay anthem came from <a href="http://dlisted.com/node/40783">Dlisted</a> of all places:

     
  6. Songs that are relatable about love/loss etc. are always much more relatable than being absolutely overt. But I disagree that it's more of a gay anthem if gay people relate, etc.
    EVERYONE can relate, except to songs that are directed to "their man" etc.
     
  7. Yes I've definitely noticed this.

    I would add 'Just The Way You Are' by Bruno Mars to the list as well.

    Basically all of the songs have the same 'you're great, be yourself' message.
     
  8. ^ That is probably the only intelligent article DListed has EVER posted, because it's true. Some of the classic gay anthems (i.e. "I WIll Survive") were never intended to be gay anthems, but just connected to the gay community in a non-direct way.

    I actually like Ke$ha's "We R Who We R", but will it be considered an "equality anthem" in the coming years - absolutely not. But I think in the moment, these so called "equality anthems" are doing their job, and spreading love, and giving awareness to various causes.
     
  9. I thnik it all depends on how you write the song, on how you promote it, on how you talk about it...

    Sometimes it's subtle, sometimes it can be gross.

    In 2010, It was obviously a trend. Glee was also part of that, this show is disgusting in many ways (stereotypes, gay are always victims of bad baaaaaad homophobes that are often secretly gay..).

    And I don't like this society where when you suffer, when you're a victim you're better than others (I watched American Idol the other day, it's hilarious ! You have to sing but you also have to have a sad past and a sad story to succeed ).

    Anyway if I need support I prefer to watch I love you philip Morris, do concrete actions or talk to a politician. I don't need a freak/bullied/gay/antiracism anthem. But that's maybe because I always hated "communities".
     
  10. 3Xs

    3Xs

    Same! So pointless and stupid. Just another social construct to divide us even further.
     
  11. Exactly. If I never hear the phrase "the gays" again it won't be too soon.
     
  12. For me the best equality songs have been and gone: Can't Hold Us Down, Beautiful and Rhythm Nation to name a few. I feel like those were done with more meaning and feeling compared to the ones in the 2010s (with the exception of P!nk) which seem more like money making schemes.
     
  13. The lyrics in Gaga's new song are patronising drivel. "Don't be a drag, just be a queen"? Like all gay people want to be called a queen. Presumably she thinks all gay people like tacky, nasty dance beats from 1991 too given the horrible production on the track which is so below what we've come to expect from her.

    Her previous songs became gay anthems without TRYING to be one.
     
  14. Yup. It's way too calculated. It's DESIGNED to be anthem and that's why it fails. The cheesiness of the beat coupled with those "serious" but cringeworthy lyrics makes it laughable. Plus her voice on it is pretty much emotionless to say the least. The lyrics are jammed onto the melody of the song.
    The dumb part of it is, it's clearly meant to be a gay anthem but the addition of all those other "groups" comes across as something of a fail-safe and completely insincere.
    It makes me wanna dance but it fails as a song about equality.
     
  15. Can't Hold Us Down & Beautiful. Now that's how you do a real equality anthem and empowering song.

    Born This Way & cia. are so contrived, cliché, poor written.

    This. Except the navy. RAH
     
  16. Am I the only one who ranks Lily Allen's 22 as one of the best songs in this category? It's not the most obvious one, since the "comforting" and "empowering" pieces are far more underlying than in other songs, but it's still a message that almost everybody can relate to, one way or another.
     
  17. No, you aren't! I can't believe someone else has thought this too, and as her best song, "22" is up there, for me at least.
     
  18. Do we actually consider we R who we R an equality anthem? I mean expect for randomly singing we R who we R at the end of the chorus the lyrics are pretty much in the same vein as Tik Tok.
     
  19. Does unreleased songs count?

    I thought Lily Allen's F*ck You was quite blatant and on point.

    And Christina Aguilera's Vanity is a good one, just because it's so OTT but funny too.
    Oh and her song I Am too.
     
  20. 1. Do you like "empowering" (slash "real-world") messages in your pop songs? Or would you rather they just stay "in the club"?

    I tire of songs about clubs, drinks and 'dancing the night away.' I don't need empowering messages in songs, however if the communicate a positive message and they manage to do so convincingly then that's great. Lily Allen seldom has positive messages in her music yet it's incredibly witty and intelligent. That's enough for me.

    2. Do you think such messages make a difference in the world? Or are pop stars deluding themselves into thinking they do?

    I believe they do but the message needs to transcend the song. Very few songs can do that. After all is said about GaGa's new single, i would have loved somebody, anybody singing about equality as I was growing up. To feel for a moment that I wasn't alone would have made growing up gay much more bearable.

    3. Why do you think these recent "equality anthems" have been so popular? Are they just good songs? Is it because most were penned by known hitmakers, such as Max Martin and Dr. Luke?

    Mix of both. I thing socially we're at the cusp of a mass generational change. We all root for the underdog and when there's a song that conveys similar thoughts and emotions then it will most likely be embraced by society as a timely representative of a cultural shift. I've nearly finished my degree in sociology and the past twelve-eighteen months has been extraordinary in terms of visibility and a shift in societies accepted norms and values.

    4. Am I making something out of nothing? Do a spate of songs like "Fuckin' Perfect," "Firework," and "Born This Way" strike you as nothing new? (Note: The videos to these songs must be watched to get the full effect. For instance with the "Fuckin' Perfect" video, it's the specific marriage of lyrics with images that creates what I'm talking about here).

    I don't think you are. I see music and music videos as art. Art is a form of expression and we all interpret art and meaning in our own way based on life experience. There's no right or wrong. If it's powerful to you and transcends feelings and emotions beyond traditional musical boundaries then that's fantastic.
     
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