Mel Di Giacomo puts an Arts degree to good use by conducting critical analysis on three songs from the Top 40, and figuring out what they really say about the artist.
Eminem is in denial about his potential bisexuality
‘The Monster’ (featuring Rihanna)
What critics are saying:
“Upbeat unlike Eminem and Rihanna’s last collaboration. The song talks about OCD, the monster within, Em’s problem with fame and more.” – International Business Times
“As a recovering drug addict, Mr. Marshall has stared down the man below and lived to tell the tale. Which is why you tend to believe the guy when he claims, “The very thing that I love is killing me and I can’t conquer it.” – Vibe
Eminem thinks he’s crazy because his latent homosexual tendencies are impinging on his blatant homophobia.
The only thing that’s ‘crazy’ about this video is the complete lack of women in it. Rihanna appears briefly with her face obscured. Aside from that, it’s five solid minutes of sweaty men high-fiving each other.
The Catch-22 in Eminem’s predicament (how can I express my love for other men in a non-gay way?) is mirrored in the smack-talk he directs at an anonymous cameraperson in the opening moments of the clip: “Bitch, you listen to me when I’m talking to you! You hear me? Shut up. Now answer me. You hear me? I said shut up when I’m talking to you. Answer me!”
The looming spectre of homophobia is making it hard for Em to love his guy-pals without having to add ‘no homo’ to the end of every sentence. It’s a paradox––one that’s a lot like trying to answer someone and shut up at the same time. This struggle with homosexuality is the ‘monster’ that is living under Eminem’s bed, suggesting why “the very thing that [he] love[s] is killing [him] and [he] can’t conquer it.” This all becomes especially poignant when—towards the end—we are shown shots of signs saying “Hate set to a groove is still hate” at Gay and Lesbian Alliance protests staged outside Eminem’s shows: he’s come under fire more than once for blatantly homophobic song lyrics. In short, I agree with Em’s self-diagnosis (he’s not crazy), and I applaud his dedication to staying off drugs. Having said that, the over-the-top machismo that saturates ‘Monster’ does scream “defence mechanism”.
Pharrell Williams wants to synchronise your life drive with the drive of capitalism.
What critics are saying:
“It’s good to see innovation is still the name of the game, even if it’s more an outlandish gimmick than something you’d want to watch over and over.” – NME
“An instant contender for 2013’s Song of the Summer, with lyrics that are just right for some outdoor partying: ‘Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.’” – Rolling Stone
If it’s true that happiness can’t be bought, then Pharrell doesn’t want you to know about it. The video for ‘Happy’ seeks to speak to your unconscious: put simply, it wants to you equate happiness with buying stuff. Why is Pharrell happy when he’s singing about the sun in a depressing, dimly-lit alleyway? Could it be because he’s trying to justify the needless presence of his looks-like-suede mountie-esque sunhat? Could it also be the blindingly white Turnbull & Asser 100% cotton button-down dress shirt he’s sporting?
The catchy opening lyric to the chorus, “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof”, suggests a perpetual sense of incompleteness on the part of the foot-tapping listener. Do you feel like a room without a roof? Like there’s something missing? Is there something that makes you feel incomplete, no matter what. And here’s one of those whackadoo yellow things from Despicable Me! Why don’t you go out right now and buy the soundtrack?
The capitalist advertising in ‘Happy’ manifests through brand placement and the focus on people’s ‘look’. Clever positioning of clothing, hair, shoes, accessories and so on follow the idea that expenditure will satisfy subliminal desires of personal fulfillment. The clip becomes more deeply metaphorical when there’s a jump-cut to a laundromat worker folding clothes.
Shit suddenly got serious. You want all the little yellow guys and superfluous mountie hats and all that other stuff that completes you? You gotta work your butt off for that, my friend. That feeling of incompleteness is important because it begets happiness. Why? Because it’s equal to the anticipation of buying something. The lyric “Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth”therefore suggests that incompleteness ishappiness, and it’s the only truth you’ll ever know. Subsequently, “Clap along if you know what happiness is to you,”encourages the recognition of one’s place as an eternal consumer who obediently cycles through work and consumption respectively in order to achieve happiness.
For Pitbull and Ke$ha, erectile dysfunction is more common than you’d think
What critics are saying:
“Timber is highlighted by the screeching harmonica hook and the line, ‘It’s going down, I’m yelling timber’ within Ke$ha’s earnestly delivered chorus, but the single also features some of Pitbull’s most off-the-wall boasts about his jet-setting lifestyle and suave persona.” –– Billboard.com
Let’s begin with the problematic title of this song. It’s suggestive of a couple of things: firstly, an inferiority complex. Secondly, women fainting, but more on that later.
So we know that “timber!” is meant to be the thing that lumberjacks yell when a tree is going to come crashing down. What I’m proposing here is that in this instance Pitbull’s “tree” is a phallic object that is going to metaphorically “crash down” on some girls “twerking in they [sic] bras and thongs”. The issue here is the fact that the penis-tree coming ‘down’ (rather than strongly and erectly ‘up’) is something of an emasculating metaphor.
This brings me to the second thing that the tree-symbol represents. “The
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bigger they are, the harder they fall … I have ’em like Miley Cyrus, clothes off … face up, booty down.” So not only do the trees in this song implicitly suggest some erectile dysfunction issues on Pitbull’s part, they also refer to the idea of ‘romance’ as ‘conquest’, whereby women represent trees that are to be felled, or objects to be conquered. The problem here is obvious: how does one then maintain his reputation as a lady-killer? The answer is horrifyingly simple: “Let’s make a night you won’t remember … One more shot, another round. End of the night, it’s going down.”
By Melissa Di Giacomo