I have a lot of issues with music these days. Besides the whole recycled boringness of most music and the plastic fakeness of most musicians, I have trouble with the message in the lyrics. Because, when you sing something again and again, the message sinks deep inside.
It’s been years since I’ve voluntarily listened to Taylor Swift. Back when she was Country Music’s Bubblegum Princess, I listened and was concerned. Why is it okay for her to have a song that makes being gay a terrible insult? Then I started teaching piano and my preteen students were in love with her. I would listen to the songs again and again to help them learn to play her music by ear. Or to transcribe it for them into something playable at their skill level. And there’s something insidious about constantly stating that you’re better for your guy friend than his girlfriend. It takes away his agency to make the choice about what is best for himself. And that’s problematic.
Adele’s recently released Hello now has her teetering on the same place for me. I love Adele’s voice. She has such power and a dark tinge to her vocals that gives me the chills every time she comes on the radio. Someone Like You bothered me when it was released. It’s a bit creepy to go to someone and tell them that you’ll find someone just like them. It’s verging on a stalker line that I prefer not to have my music cross.
And then there’s Hello. We start the line about calling a thousand times and the person on the other end never being home. Then we get to the idea that because the other person moved on, their heart was never broken and they must have never really cared. I mean, really?
I get that it’s a song. But, again, lyrics carry meaning. And, it just pushes at what I consider safe by normalizing and glorifying a dangerous precedent. It’s not cool to keep calling your ex to talk about what happened years ago. It’s not cool to try and force them to hash out with you what went wrong. Not answering the phone or returning a call is a soft no. And, once you’ve been exes for years, they don’t owe you a return call. Actually, once you’ve broken up, they owe you nothing.
The other trouble I have, is this suggestion that moving on is problematic. I would hope, that a person could move on from heart break and not still have what went down tear them apart. Because, still being torn apart by it and needing to keep talking about it? That says that you aren’t moving on or healing. And that’s not healthy.
Music surrounds us, the lyrics constantly drum into our heads, and I find it worrisome when they carry such dangerous messages.