my sister and female pop stars
I don’t listen to the radio or watch much TV, and half the time I’m far too lazy to download new music. Which means that my music taste is mostly stuck in the ’90s, with some current stuff thrown in if I stumble across it. My younger sister I care for is one of the ways I find out what new music is out there, especially pop.
I’m not a music snob at all; I’ll listen to all types of music. I get to know all the lyrics to all the songs because mid-afternoons and early evenings are my sister’s karaoke times where she puts her latest favourite CD into the player, cranks the shit out of it, and sings her lungs out. I don’t begrudge the noise (much) because I know she’s enjoying it and she absolutely loves dancing around.
I was never much of a Britney Spears fan back when she first came out. I dismissed her as a vapid pop star, and was far too cool to be seen listening to the likes of her. I’ve only started listening to her songs through my sister and using them as workout music. The beats are great to run to!
I know pop music, especially female pop singers, gets dismissed and criticised. Hey, it should be, but I think almost everything should be critically examined. I recently read this post linked on Lip’s Facebook page and it got me thinking about female pop singers and the influence I’d like them to have on my sister.
The aforementioned Britney? I have major, MAJOR issues with the lyrics and title of ‘I Was Born to Make You Happy’. I cringe every time I hear them sung by my sister. Yet I have absolutely no issue with ‘Slave 4 U’. I’m not quite sure why that is – maybe it’s because the “born” implies that the woman in the song is only good for one thing, has always only been good for one thing, whereas the woman in ‘Slave 4 U’ seems more in control of herself.
My sister also adores Christina Aguilera. Christina was another singer I’d dismissed. I saw her film clip for ‘Can’t Hold Us Down’ and slut shamed the hell out of it. I know better now. Not only do I like hearing that voice coming out of my sister’s CD player, I now love hearing the lyrics:
‘This is for my girls all around the world, who have come across a man that don’t respect your worth. Thinkin’ all women should be seen and not heard. So what do we do girls, shout out loud , lettin ‘em know were gonna stand our ground. So lift your hands high and wave ‘em proud. Take a deep breath and say it loud: Never can, never will, can’t hold us down.’
Another woman singer she’s into is Nicki Minaj. While I’m not a giant fan of the swearing and I really dislike ‘Roman’s Revenge’, I love the song ‘I’m the Best’ and the lyrics:
‘All the girls will applaud, all the girls will commend. As long as they understand that I’m fighting for the girls never thought they can win. Cause before they could begin you told them it was the end. But I am here to reverse the curse that they live in.’
Lastly, her absolute favourite is Beyonce. I’ve become a fan, again, through her. I’ve enjoyed her music since Destiny’s Child, but it’s only recently I’ve liked Beyonce solo. I have a huge admiration for the woman herself and her business acumen. Her lyrics are catchy and I will admit I absolutely love overhearing my sister scream out, ‘Who run the world? GIRLS.’
I won’t deny there are problematic issues with pop music, the way female pop singers are marketed versus how male pop singers are marketed and the various –isms and –ists that go with the music and the singers themselves. But if these four women singers are her very basic introduction to feminism and feminist read lyrics, then I can’t fault them. Particularly if she goes on to search out, listen to and read further.