1. "Mean" by Taylor Swift
The Issue: Bullying
All you are is mean and a liar and pathetic,
And alone in life and mean, and mean, and mean, and mean.
Back in 2011, pop artists started releasing a slew of empowerment anthems as a response to the many reports of LGBT suicides. Most of these songs were harmless and catchy pop like Katy Perry's "Firework" or Ke$ha's "We R Who We R." One of them, however, was a huge swing and a miss, which is ironic because it comes from the queen of teenage feelings herself, Taylor Swift
Have you ever seen that episode of 30 Rock where Liz goes to her reunion to confront her high school bully only to discover that she was the bully, all along. That's kinda what "Mean" is. The song is all about how the singer takes solace in knowing that she will one day be a big star, while her bully will peak early and live a shitty life in a small town which would be fine and all, except for the fact that the singer is TAYLOR FUCKING SWIFT! By the time "Mean" was released, Swift was already living in a big 'ol city, living it up as one of the biggest pop stars of all time. As such, what is intended to feel like fighting back instead feels like punching down. It also seems to posit that anyone who lives in a small town is a bitter alcoholic whose life has no meaning which... Yeah not a great messag
As if that wasn't bad enough, Swift decided to use the music video as a way to tie in LGBT issues, but she does it in a way that makes me think she doesn't really know what gay people are.
Remember how the hardest part about being a gay teen in high school was trying to read your fashion magazine in the middle of a locker room while the football team very mildly roughhoused you? Yeah, me neither.
2. "Can I Live?" by Nick Cannon
The Issue: Abortion
Mommy I don't like this clinic
Hopefully you'll make the right decision
And don't go through with the Knife incision
But it's hard to make the right move
When you in high school
How you have to work all day and take night school
Hopping off da bus when the rain is pouring
What you want morning sickness or the sickness of mourning
Let me just start by saying that abortion is an extremely complicated issue, and while I don't always agree with them, I have heard many rational, reasoned pro-Life arguments. If you'd like to hear a good song about choosing to bring a child to term, have a listen to "To Zion" by Lauryn Hill. If you'd like to hear one that's off the wall bonkers and mind numbingly terrible, have a listen to "Can I Live" by Nick Cannon.
If you forgot that Nick Cannon was a rapper, there's a reason for that: He's terrible at it. "Can I Live" tells the real life story of the time that Nick Cannon's mother almost got an abortion. If that doesn't sound that bad, let me add this to equation: It's written from the perspective of Cannon himself...AS A FETUS. By taking on the role of a baby who's scared about the fact that it's about to be killed, the former Nickelodeon star creates a song that both manipulative and oddly judgmental of any woman who ever made the decision to have an abortion. As if that weren't bad enough, Cannon also uses the song as an opportunity for some incredibly inappropriate humblebragging. Take a look at these actual lyrics:
Your friends will look at you funny but look at you mommy
That's a life inside you look at your tummy
What is becoming ma I am Oprah bound
You can tell he's a star from the Ultrasound
Like I've said, I've heard many rational arguments against abortion. The idea that giving women the right to choose means a world in which Nick Cannon never existed is not one of them. I mean, could you imagine a world in which the blandest, most inconsequential celebrity never existed? I shudder to think.
3. "Abortion Is Murder" by P.O.D
The Issue: Also Abortion
Abortion is murder
There's nothing you can say or do
To justify the fact
That there's a living breathing baby inside of you
If rapping fetuses is too subtle a take on abortion for you, I've got you covered. You might remember P.O.D. as the band the gained prominence in 2001 after terrorist hijacked some planes and used them to utterly DESTROY our perceptions about what constitutes good music. You could never accuse P.O.D of being subtle, but their school shooting anthem "Youth of the Nation" seems like a Kendrick Lamar album in comparison to "Abortion is Murder"
There's not a lot to say about this song that isn't readily apparent from the title. The most I can add is this: If you ever went to Warped Tour and though 'You know what this need? A hyper conservative political message," then I guess this song is for you.
4. Dear Mr. President - P!nk
The Issue: Bush Era Politics
How can you say
No child is left behind?
We're not dumb and we're not blind.
They're all sitting in your cells
While you pave the road to hell.
P!nk has made her career on her pseudo-punk, middle finger in the air attitude. When she applies it to a pop song about starting parties or reveling in the fact that she's still a rockstar despite her divorce, there's hardly anything better. However, when she applies it to an anti-George Bush political anthem, it becomes the very reason that people hate liberals.
Emotions ran high during the Bush era, and though there was a good reason for that, a lot of the stuff that came out of that time period has not aged well. "Dear Mr. President" is one of the things that didn't age well. Though there are a couple of legitimate gripes throughout, the majority of the song feels a little bit overdramatic in hindsight. Rather than focusing on specifics, P!nk just lists every single one of the society's ill and pins all of the blame on W. By the time she starts taking shots at Bush's status as a recovering alcoholic, it it becomes hard to be on P!nk's side, even when you agree with some of the things she's saying.
5. "Accidental Racist" by Brad Paisley featuring LL Cool J
The Issue: Racism
And it ain't like you and me can re-write history
Our generation didn't start this nation
We're still pickin' up the pieces, walkin' on eggshells, fightin' over yesterday
And caught between southern pride and southern blame
Note: Talking about racism on the internet can get people riled up, so please direct any problems you have to @williesillie2 on Twitter. I'm sure all your points will be valid and in no way idiotic.
Sometimes, a political statement is so tone deaf that it actually makes news. "The Accidental Racist" is one of those times. If you've forgotten about it, I'm sorry I have to drudge it up in your memory, but unfortunately this list just wouldn't be complete without it.
The one thing that I will give the song is that it does seem to be well intentioned. Brad Paisley does seem to genuinely want to understand why his love of the Confederate flag gets him pegged as a racist. That said, if you don't understand something you should probably just try to listen as opposed to, you know...writing an entire song about it.
Where "The Accidental Racist" runs into problems is that it it positions the white guy as the victim. In Paisley's mind, his inability to wear a stars and bars t-shirt shirt without getting a stern talking to is on par with years of institutionalized racism. He also takes the infuriating stance that since he himself wasn't a slave master, he should not be blamed for wearing symbology. His argument is that since you can't rewrite history, you should just try to move on which, no. Just....no...
If that weren't bad enough, eventually shows up and makes things MUCH worse with the following rap:
If you don't judge my do-rag,
I won't judge your red flag.
If you don't judge my gold chains.
I'll forget the iron chains.
You know, because wearing a gold chain is on par with enslaving another human being? Regardless of how well intentioned it is, the song tries to see both sides of an argument that really not all that two sided, perpetuating the myth that white people can also be the victims of discrimination which just isn't the case. I repeat: WHITE PEOPLE CAN NOT BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST FOR BEING WHITE!
Again, my Twitter handle is @williesillie2. I look forward to hearing from you.
6. "Wake Up America" by Miley Cyrus
The Issue: Environmentalism
Wake up America
We're all in this together
It's our home so let's take care of it
You know that you want to
Have you ever had someone discover a political cause and then talk your ear about it like they're the first person who ever heard of said cause? "Wake Up America" is basically just that in song form.
Before she was known for fingerblasting herself on stage, Miley Cyrus was just an optimistic teen looking to make a difference. As such, she created this ode to environmentalism urging people to make a difference, and while her intentions are good, you kind of get the sense that she doesn't really know what she's talking about. I say this because she herself says as much. I shit you not, actual lyrics from the song's bridge:
Everything I read global warming going green
I don't know what all this means but it seems to be saying
Wake up America
If she's not what global warming means, I'm not sure why she decided sing a song about it, but hey! I guess when you're a teenage millionaire you don't have a lot people saying no to you. Thankfully she was young then and has since outgrown hollow songs with unoriginal messages of environmentalism... Oh wait... .
7. Same Love - Macklemore
The Issue: Marriage Equality
When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay,
'Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight.
Yeah, I know you've already heard it. I just wanna make sure to remind you how much it sucked.