Today: Jun 17, 2024

Herland: Billboard’s top five music videos reflecting American minsdets

Cassandra Cammarata
Staff Writer
Sometimes I can’t sleep in on Saturdays when I am allowed the luxury. Rather than cursing my body and brain’s inability to let me reboot from the previous week, I strip the top layer blanket from my bed, scoot into the living room, fall into the couch and in a half dazed state, watch the Vh1 countdown. I have a nostalgic yearning for music television and the art of music videos, and aside from CMT (Country Music Television), which plays an insane amount of music videos; there isn’t anything to even tickle my appetite. That is, except for the insanely early broadcasted Vh1 countdown. While watching these programs, I began to wonder how the chart was figured out, and what exactly these songs say about our current ideologies.
The charts are figured out by Billboard’s Top 100, which has categories from Pop to Hip-Hop/R&B, to Latin or Bluegrass; you name it, it is followed and charted. But these charts are compiled by numbers of radio play and sales of the single. The first number one hit on the chart was in 1958 with Ricky Nelson’s “Poor Little Fool”. That is in comparison to the current number one: Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”
So let us compare the top five songs that are ruling the airwaves and music sales with their subsequent videos and how they relate or don’t (or shouldn’t) with our mind sets.
5 – Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull “On the Floor” – J Lo still understands the power of the camera and her kinetic ability to make the music video hum with energy, but the scene of the bumping club amidst the throngs of dancing, drinking women and the aloof, creep of the men lustily staring is so commonly portrayed in pop dance singles that I was mostly bored with the scenery. This is why Lopez’s dancing is so crucial and the only validity in the video. Pitbull’s golden dancing nymphs alongside him only pervert the video more, making you wonder who the real target audience is; men fulfilling their fantasies of women subservience, or women being given a lesson on ideal character.
4 – Pink “F**ckin’ Perfect” – While the actual song and Pink’s music in general are unable to be withstood by my own threshold’s of music tolerance, the song is a positive message for young girls, even amping up the acceptability of the message by using such common lexicon in the teenage tradition of profanity. The girl in the video’s life is shown as being generally out of favor or unfair, which turns her into hating herself and self-mutilation. There is a happily ever after ending, which usually I would conceive to be wildly diluting and fantastical, but sometimes there needs to be a reminder of what is possible. Rather than taking it at whole value, you should understand the extreme, but be appreciable of the norm.
3 – Rihanna “S&M” – This song reeks of sexual innuendos and overt messages (see: Sex in the air/ I don’t care / I love the smell of it), but the video has a political twist. Although many times, politics loves to tango with sex. First off, that fun house, Alice in Wonderland style, disorienting room Rihanna is in is really spectacular, and that half zebra half green fur stole she is wearing is mind blowing. Also, the depiction of entertainment reporters as gagged, without their own willful cognizance, being muzzled by a larger entity and their interests is quite an intriguing video subject for a pop tune. Granted, there is a time honored tradition of showcasing the media as being fear mongering, amoral lie factories by those who are scrutinized by them, but it is not the average music video by a reigning pop diva. Although it’s empowering for Rihanna to assert her sexual freedom, there is still a role of one gender or one partner in dominance over the other. However, reclamation is a real and acceptable action for those who have been in the oppressive role, such as woman using the word “bitch”, or being the “dominatrix”; a reversal to reclaim the power of the situation or to usurp the power that is was giving the other party.
2- Cee Lo Green “F**k You (Forget You)” – I really, really am sick of this song. At first, when I heard it, I thought it was a funny, quirky song that was catchy, but I never took it seriously. And neither did the rest of it’s audience. Duets with Gwyneth Palthrow and the Muppets at the Grammy’s was so corny I couldn’t handle it. And the video is just as flat. And the light-hearted nature of the melody of the song with the actual content of the song is disturbing; not unlike Kanye West’s “Golddigger”, we as a public are being propagandized to sing along to a catchy tune that is promoting the idea of many women to be money whores blinded not by love but the power of the green.
1 – Lady Gaga “Born This Way” – Thank you for Lady Gaga. I understand people’s fascination with her, like a car wreck. A morbid curiosity of what we fear most; what we do not understand. But really I can’t get enough of her ability to shock, to gain and control attention through means of pure, adulterated, explicit self-expression. She is the more explosive, gothic, macabre version of Madonna, and just as powerful. This song, and the video are disturbing and power anthems for not only female, but human self-love. All her possessed-evoking dance moves, simulated abstract birth scenes, angel-like orbits of the Earth and skeletal bondage scenes keep me completely immersed in the world of Gaga. Her incessant wardrobe, or lack thereof, doesn’t seem like she is on display, it’s more of an empowerment unable to be perverted by the male stare.
Hope can be given when the number one song in the United States is by a powerful, thought-provoking woman fully outside of the traditional purview of society.

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