Beastie Boys’ “Girls” Gets a Kick-Ass, Girl-Power Makeover
I love The Beastie Boys. I almost saw them live in San Diego circa 2009, but they cancelled last minute because Adam Yauch was diagnosed with cancer (RIP MCA). Even though The Beastie Boys have a special place in my heart, there is no denying that their hit track “Girls” is totally sexist. It’s not clear whether it was meant to serve as a parody or not; the song is in the same album that contains “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party),” and was meant to make fun of belligerent a**holes, not to actually fight for your right to party with them. In fact, License to III was a satirical album as a whole, although that message may have been lost in translation over the years, as The Beastie Boys became more and more popular.
Regardless, it’s not okay to make fun of girls in any form of light, for any kind of social agenda. I really doubt any of the band members actually hated women, but the lyrics were undoubtedly anti-progressive and just plain wrong; they set up a terrible example for those who do and can believe the lyrics were created to put women down and categorize them in a misogynistic fashion:
Girls –to do the dishes
Girls –to clean up my room
Girls –to do the laundry
Girls –and in the bathroom
Girls, that’s all I really is girls
Two at a time, I want girls
Um, this is awesome. Covers can be trite and cringe-worthy if not executed properly, but Sizzy Rocket takes the song and completely reinvents it, emphasizing feminism and women’s rights in a really cool, catchy way. I love how she responds to the original lyrics of “Girls” without being pushy or aggressive; she changes and reorders the words in order to empower girls, not to start a war. Instead of a narrative that focuses on a girl with “tight pants” who rejects Ad-Rock, Sizzy converts the song into an anthem. It becomes less of a story and more of a message for everyone.
We think we’re supposed to smile
From White Castle to the Nile.
But they have no idea about the pressure that we have to feel.
Be skinny, be pretty, have sex appeal.
Bend over and give it to me like you want a record deal.
The original song, whether it wants to or not, lends itself to stereotyping and objectification. In The Beastie Boys’ “Girls,” the girl in question is treated like she’s already the DJ’s possession, and has no voice in the matter (besides saying “no way!” to Ad-Rock). Sizzy deconstructs this image, and gives the girl a voice. In fact, she gives all of us a voice by asserting how society wants us to be portrayed and how this is problematic. Especially in the music industry, where so many female musicians are expected to bare all if they want fame and equate to the success of males.
She even addresses the line, “I should have probably guessed they’re gay,” in which the narrator assumes that the girl he is pursuing MUST prefer other girls, because how else could she resist him? Sizzy sings, “They wanna see girls kiss, but not if it’s their sexuality,” and points out that men are only interested in homosexuality if and only if it’s a show being put on for them.
I’ve listened to this song about fifteen times now, and I really just want to high-five Sizzy Rocket. And hug her. And tell her to please write more music, because she is incredibly talented. This song is such a positive, uplifting mantra, and it manages to simultaneously challenge a song which (intentionally or not) objectifies women and in turn, she created an uplifting, affirmative directive for young women.
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