We listen to all types of music here at The Heatley Cliff: Eminem, Daft Punk, The National, Beyoncé and Damien Rice get equally heavy rotation at the Manor. Sher and I both love music. I am, by trade, a songwriter.
My father, who is also a songwriter, taught me to be genuinely happy for other people’s success. So, while I might not care for a particular song or artist, I can respect where they are coming from. It is not smart in this business to badmouth other writers. It’s also, quite simply, not right. Everyone has a story and everyone’s story deserves to be told. I am trying to make it clear that I am not the type of person to talk negatively about another writer. But, I feel so strongly about the dangerous message of this song, which appeals specifically to young girls, that I felt I had to speak up.
Last week I was in the car when my 9-year-old started singing along to Selena Gomez’s newest single. I had heard the song before. It didn’t resonant with me and I was a little disappointed. I like Selena Gomez. I like her work. I like her style. I like how she’s so successfully navigated the tricky landscape of child stardom. It wasn’t until I heard my daughter sing the lyrics “if you want it, come and get it” that I second guessed her decision making.
A song is a song is a song – yes, of course it is. In the big scheme of things, like wars and cancer and hunger, it doesn’t hold much weight. I get that. I also get that songs can be violent, angry and misogynistic. Eminem is one of my favorite all time artists, and his words can be brutal. But, they are also a carefully crafted mix of both beautiful and savage. I can appreciate that. Not to mention that HE HIMSELF WRITES THEM.
Selena Gomez is not Eminem. She is not a rapper. She is a Disney star who achieved her fame with children. I wont argue that she’s entitled to break free of that squeaky clean image and as an adult and start owning her sexuality. It’s not the idea that she is having sex, or singing about sex or wearing sexy clothes that bothers me. It’s the fact that she sings quite proudly about being a total doormat with the notion that THAT is sexy.
Many people think that artists write their own songs and many artists do. Selena Gomez however, does not write her own songs.. The words are coming from her mouth and she is selling it, but she didn’t come up with them. The girls that are listening, however, believe that she believes what she is singing. They look up to her. They want to be her and now there is a little seed planted in a little brain where some part of them will think it’s okay to defer sexually to men.
Here’s an example of the lyrics:
You ain’t gotta worry, it’s an open invitation
I’ll be sittin’ right here, real patient
All day, all night, I’ll be waitin’ standby
Baby whenever you’re ready, come and get it.
This goes on for a bit. She talks about how she’s addicted to him and once he comes (and presumably) gets it, there’s no take backs. As a songwriter, I’m offended by the mediocrity of the lyrics. As a woman and mother, I’m just offended, period. She sounds like a desperate, needy stalker.
Would it surprise you to learn that the woman who wrote these words, Ester Dean, had her first number one single with Chris Brown? Surprised? No? I thought not. She has written hits for Rihanna (‘Rude Boy’ and ‘What’s My Name’) And with Robin Thicke, co-writing ‘Sex Therapy’ (though I’m not sure that qualifies as a hit). The actual surprising thing is that she co-wrote ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry. However, it was also written by three other writers and Perry herself (that’s 5 total, not including the producers who would have arranged it). I’m just going to go out on a limb here, as a professional songwriter who has been in many of these multiple cowriter situations and as someone who can identify a distinctive writing style: I’d put my money on Perry writing most of the words of Firework.
There’s nothing to be done of course. We live in a free country. Ester Dean can write all the ridiculous words in the world, and sadly, people are buying what she is selling. But come on, Selena! You can do better; you are better than this song. You don’t have to be a goody goody. You can shake your booty and be the sultry Latina you are. You are powerful and talented and lovely. Show my daughter what a powerful woman can do and what a powerful, confident woman deserves. Let my daughter know that it’s not okay to wait on standby for a guy, to be available whenever he wants it. Let him go get it from someone else cause you’ve got better things to do.
Featured image via ShutterStock