Chiming In

  • Deborah Straszheim

Every once in awhile, a song comes along with a message that really disturbs me.

Such is the case with Zayn’s “Pillowtalk,” ranked 15th on the Billboard Pop Chart and, mercifully, on its way down.

For those fortunate listeners who haven’t heard it, the song describes a relationship as “our paradise” and “our war zone.” Here’s a sampling of the lyrics:

"Yeah, reckless behavior A place that is so pure, so dirty and wrong In the bed all day, bed all day, bed all day F---ing and fighting on It's our paradise and it's our war zone.”

Now picture the audience for this song. It’s not adults (though that would be most distressing also) but teenagers, listening in their cars and watching the video (featuring girl crying blood tears) on their phones.

I know it’s all fair game in music, but it’s almost glorifying an abusive relationship where “it’s a thriller” to become a prisoner of a partner who’s your enemy and your ally (his description).

How inspiring. Call me old fashioned, but whatever happened to “Let My Love Open the Door?” I guess that’s just too 1980s.

I’m sorry, folks, but this is one song where the parody, even the part where the actor repeatedly wiggles his tongue and licks the woman’s face, is totally justified. I laughed aloud.

Here’s a singer who came from One Direction - a boy band - had a real opportunity at a solo career, and this is the best he can do?

Shame, shame. Bring on the Justin Bieber.

#pillowtalk #songs #unwritten #parody #Zayn #JustinBieber #OneDirection #BartBarker #war #billboard #pop #chart #message #dirty #band #shame #hit #opinion #analysis #bed #love #lovesongs #paradise #boybands

  • Deborah Straszheim

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all tell the unedited truth, without having to step on it, squash it and mold it into a little ball to make it more palatable?

Perhaps no song in the Top 40 speaks more directly to this than Mike Posner’s “I Took a Pill in Ibiza.” Posner wrote the song during a rough patch in his career, when he was depressed, out of the spotlight and fearful he wouldn’t have another hit.

He’d visited Ibiza, Spain, with Avicii, a Swedish record producer, and Posner got drunk and took a pill someone gave him. He felt terrible the next day. Later, he wrote the song - a slow, acoustic melody with three verses and sad lyrics about how he felt.

He released the song in 2015 as part of an EP, but it didn’t go far. Then sometime later, the Norwegian duo SeeB heard it and liked it. They sped it up, set it to an echoing beat and cut the third verse. And up the charts it went.

This is the version most people hear.

If it plays on the radio or in a club, you don’t really hear the lyrics right away. You’re listening to the beat. But the music video for the remix demonstrates what the song is about. It shows Posner taking a pill in a nightclub bathroom, seeing his reflection as this gigantic, smiling, frozen mask of himself and standing in the club while people dance around, oblivious.

At one point, he has sex with a woman in the bathroom, even though he’s clearly not in the building for it.

Posner said the dance version doesn’t bother him; he’s glad someone reimagined the song and people like it. It also brings listeners back to the original; a relative unknown just a few weeks ago. Now the original video has 10 million views, compared to the remix with 346 million.

I don’t recommend the original video if you want to listen to the difference between the two. It shows Posner holding up papers with parts of his lyrics, which distract from the music. Just close your eyes, hit play and listen.

The words are strong; and they sting. And in that respect, I find the remix version of “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” disappointing. Not the song itself - I like both versions - but what the remix says about delivering a difficult message to an audience.

Why should the message have to be cut, sped up and set to a party track to gain a following, when it is clearly a relatable one?

Are we not strong enough to take the whiskey straight up? If so, that’s disheartening. Because the inability of people to listen to a song as honest as the one Posner first wrote is what causes isolation in the first place.

#MikePosner #musicblog #musicblogger #song #songanalysis #pop #top40 #hits #depressed #sadsongs #pillinibiza #remix #original #version #hit #Avicii #analysis #high #pill #Ibiza #sad

  • Deborah Straszheim

Before I wrote lyrics, I wrote limericks. One of my favorites was about a friend’s boss (who shall remain nameless) who made unwanted advances in the workplace. Yes, it still happens.

“There once was a flirtatious boss;

Who cared not how he came across;

He made quite a pass,

For a piece of her as-,

But he failed, so that was his loss.”

We laughed heartily. When it comes to nasty workplaces, there’s something distinctly satisfying about venting through non-traditional means. I suspect it’s more productive than the traditional avenue, at least where saving one’s sanity is concerned. I was always of the mind that if a job got to the point that human resources was required, it was time to get a new one. Might as well sing while searching.

So it makes sense that songwriters would choose the workplace as a topic for songs. Yet in the scheme of things, songs about jobs are a relative rarity. There’s the standard, “Take This Job and Shove It,” “9 to 5,” “Frankly, Mr. Shankly,” and “Maggie’s Farm.”

But given the number of people (including managers) who say they hate their jobs (choose your poll), you’d think such songs would be as common as cheating songs.

Yet they aren’t. Why?

I have a theory about this. And it’s that our standards have become so low, that we do not expect to be happy at work. Since we lack this expectation, a miserable workplace doesn’t evoke the emotions or outrage needed to create the drive to write a song. By comparison, you expect your lover to be faithful, your best friend to not betray you, your life to have a purpose. Thus, you are driven to write music when your lover cheats, your friend back stabs you, or you are despondent about your life.

By comparison, if your work is less than satisfying, unless it’s a total hell, you are less likely to write about it because you don’t expect it to be fabulous.

I find this a sad commentary, especially given that we spend so many of our waking hours at work. I suppose there is also the fear that if you pen a song about work, you might turn off a future employer, but I believe this is less a factor than the issue of expectations.

On a related note, I have a friend who jokes about expectations with regard to dating prospects. “I have standards,” she says. “They may be low, but I still have them.”

I see no reason why we can’t apply this to our jobs. I’ve had employers who had me in tears because of their meanness, and more recently, those who made me tear up because of their kindness. Both exist; both are possible. Given this, I see no reason why (while songwriting) we can’t have a job we find meaningful.

So let’s have a little outrage, people.

They Call It a Living ~ Cassie Urbany

#musicblog #work #worksucks #DollyParton #9to5 #songwriting #lyrics #blog #musicbloggers #workaholic #TheOffice #job #working #workinghard #limericks #boss #commentary #expectations #musician

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