Image Courtesy of ae.edge via Flickr
By: Emily Theodore
In the midst of a superficial industry complemented by sexual objectification and materialism, female musicians are starting to approach mainstream music differently.
The third spot on the iTunes Top 100 Singles chart is currently held by Lorde’s first single, “Royals.”
Among a few artistic shots of North American suburbia, the music video features the New Zealander simply singing to the camera in a white tshirt and gold chain.
While her sound is bass-heavy and takes inspiration from the likes of mainstream rappers such as Drake and Nicki Minaj, Lorde’s lyrics ridicule materialism, a topic heavily utilized by popular musicians.
“But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece, jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash. We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair,” sings Lorde.
To the 17-year-old formally known as Ella Yielich-O’Connor, the music of many mainstream artists hardly echoes the life of the average individual.
She believes that the majority of us “drive Cadillacs in our dreams,” herself included.
“They all sing about such opulence, stuff that just didn’t relate to me—or anyone that I knew. I began thinking, “How are we listening to this? It’s completely irrelevant,” Lorde told Interview magazine. “I basically just wrote what we were all thinking. As I’ve become more musically competent, we’ll start with a beat, but everything revolves around the lyrics.”
When offered to tour with Katy Perry, famous for her raunchy 2008 hit, “I Kissed a Girl,” Lorde declined.
More recently, Lily Allen took an outspoken turn against the music industry when she revealed her single “Hard Out Here” to YouTube Tuesday.
Since it’s premiere, the video has garnered over 4 million views.
The song, marking her re-emergence to the music scene after her 2009 album ,“It’s Not Me It’s You,” has been described as an ode to feminism and gender equality.
The music video refers to female body image as it begins with Allen going under the knife for liposuction.
Her manager comments, “Jesus, how does somebody let themselves get like this?”
“A lack of self discipline I suppose,” another chimes in.
“Um, I had two babies,” Allen replies, referring to the birth of her two daughters in November 2011, and January 2013.
The pop anthem also takes a jab at the double standards women face for their sexuality and role in the work force.
“If I told you ‘bout my sex life you’d call me a s*** / When boys be talking about their b******, no one’s making a fuss” and “There’s a glass ceiling to break, uh-huh, there’s money to make,” sings Allen.
Her second take on societal injustice since the release of, “Everything’s Just Wonderful” in 2007, the 28-year-old British singer hinted that her new tracks would be just as blunt.
“It’s empowering. There’s some feminist vibes going on,” Allen spoke of her new album in September. “It’s the same old me with a bit of swearing going on. Good choruses, key changes here and there – that’s it!”
Also, Allen’s satirical video pokes fun at controversies in popular culture, including Robin Thicke’s contentious “Blurred Lines” video.
“Always trust the injustice ‘cause it’s not going away,” sings Allen as she struts past balloons that spell out “Lily Allen has a baggy p****”—a mockery of “Blurred Lines” which casts Thicke performing in front of the message, “Robin Thicke has a big d***.”
Miley Cyrus isn’t off the hook either.
In reference to Cyrus’s infamous MTV performance, Allen dressed up in a skin-tight black bodysuit as a group of dancers surrounded her and began to ‘twerk’ for the camera in the clip.
As the video proceeds, one of the dancers begins to lick a phallic-shaped object, similar to the sledgehammer Cyrus mouthed in “Wrecking Ball.”
Since its release, “Hard out Here,” has received mixed reviews.
Yahoo! stated that it is, “the song the world needs right now,” whereas PolicyMic declared that the tune will, “make feminists proud.”
Others complained that the video for the track is racist, proclaiming that the use of black back-up dancers has racist undertones.
Although Allen implied early in the song that she’s too smart to twerk, the women in her video do so and therefore showcase the stereotypical objectification many coloured women have faced.
Blogger, Black in Asia, described the video as, “the denigration of black female bodies.”
On Nov. 13, Allen addressed these allegations via twitter.
“If anyone thinks for a second that I requested specific ethnicities for the video, they’re wrong,” she tweeted.
“The message is clear. Whilst I don’t want to offend anyone. I do strive to provoke thought and conversation,” she said. “The video is meant to be a lighthearted satirical video that deals with objectification of women within modern pop culture.”
Regardless of the controversy this video has caused, the back-up dancers themselves support Allen.
“Critics will be critics”, dancer Monique Lawrence tweeted. “ Lily Allen is the coolest, down to earth and we all had a blast shooting!”