Inaugural Woman Wednesday: Poptimism

It’s Abi here! I’ll be blogging every Wednesday, and, as I’m the only woman in TYA, they shall now be known as Woman Wednesdays, and will cater to a slightly girlier sensibility. [Update: This was a horrible description of what I intend for this column. Look to the comment section for further explanation.]

First stop, pop music. I am a shameless fan of pop music. You may judge me, but the most-played artists on my iPod right now are these Fab 4:

I used to be embarrassed about how much I enjoyed these rather commercial artists. Indeed there was once a time when you’d find me trying to hide my love for this kind of bubblegum pop. Like, “Oh I know it’s not ‘good’ music, but it’s so catchy!” or, “It’s my guilty pleasure!” or, “Well, I downloaded the songs so it’s not like I’m paying for the stuff.”

Those dark days are over.

I love pop, and I’m not afraid to show it! In fact, I’ll admit that I own the most recent albums of ALL 4 of these artists. Yep that’s right, I bought Justin Bieber’s My World 2.0, and the other 3 albums as well. And my world is now filled with 100x more rainbows, cotton candy, and sunshine.  (N.B. You really should buy music legally; it’s just the right thing to do.)

There’s just something about pop that I find appealing, something deeper than a danceable beat or catchy hook. I think that its charm lies in its simplicity—both that of subject matter and expression. They are almost invariably about love, that most universal of topics. In particular though, love songs by young pop artists combine the all-consuming emotional drama so particular to teenager-dom with youthful naïveté, creating an uncynical attitude towards romance that is both compelling and endearing.  Form and content work together to create perfectly buoyant pop music as the simplicity of the lyrics serves to emphasize the songs’ uncensored sentimentality.

1. Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” embodies this combination. On the one hand it’s unbelievably, unbearably in love, “You brought me to life”. On the other, it’s adorably fresh-faced and optimistic, “You think I’m pretty without any makeup on…Let’s run away and never look back”, perfectly encapsulating the freewheeling, endless quality of adolescent romance.

2. Justin Bieber’s “Baby” also juxtaposes childish lyrics with deep sentiment. “And we will never ever ever be apart” may sound like a 5-year old wrote it, but it’s about as emotionally extreme as you can get, and anyone can relate to the song’s tale of first heartbreak.

3. Taylor Swift follows in the same vein, fusing adolescent drama with youthful innocence. In “Speak Now” she fantasizes about interrupting a wedding and running away with the groom, but the adult scenario is described in tellingly childish terms as she calls herself a girl and the groom a boy, and mocks the bride’s “snotty little family”. It’s hardly grown-up language or behaviour, but it’s a deeply satisfying fantasy nonetheless.

4. Reigning teen Selena Gomez’s song “Bang Bang Bang” is a sassy, impetuous shot at an ex, to whom she shows off her hot new boyfriend. Deliciously catty, she sings “I thought your love was all that, until I let him in…Baby don’t hold your breath, I’ve moved on to the next one.” It’s the kind of drama queen line you can only find in pop music, never in real life–an adolescent daydream sung out loud.

I guess what I’m saying is that pop music deserves some more credit than the critics usually give it. It wouldn’t be the same without its 100% earnestness and simple (but not simplistic!) lyrics. More complex and innovative music exists, and there are undoubtedly more talented songwriters and vocalists out there, I don’t deny it. Yet there’s something to be said for those who craft exceptional pop songs and the superstar personalities who perform them. I for one will never be ashamed of my musical pleasures again.

I’ll cap it off with a more mellow song from the flawless Miss Gomez that perfectly combines the intoxicating nature of young love with an innocent optimism and sense of timelessness. “We Own the Night”, featuring cute Brit Pixie Lott, needs no further introduction. Please just enjoy, shame-free.

– Abi


7 thoughts on “Inaugural Woman Wednesday: Poptimism

  1. Always happy to see some critical analysis of pop music. But isn’t having Women Wednesdays a little, um, tokenistic? It kind of implies that the rest of the week’s content isn’t for women, which might well be the case — but that’s something you wouldn’t really want to advertise, right?

    Also, what is a ‘girlier’ sensibility and why is pop music part of it? Genuinely interested in discussing.

    • Woman Wednesday is a light-hearted poke at the fact that there is only 1 girl on the team, so rather than calling it Women Wednesday (note: with an E), we’ve used the singular to refer specifically to Abi, not to all women. And it doesn’t imply that the rest of the content isn’t for women, but rather the column is written from a female’s perspective, rather than what us guys on the team traditionally like to talk about.

      Abi just adds a woman’s perspective on things that we would talk about, as opposed to the other columns the guys write which would undoubtedly be biased with a more masculine view. This isn’t to say that this is the only day in which she write articles, but rather that we guarantee a spread of voices amongst our team by designating a specific day for her specific column. Hell, she may start up a sports column or something in the future for all we know.

      We appreciate the feedback 😉

      • I applaud providing a forum for the women’s perspective. It still reeks of tokenism to me, though — that the column is called “Woman Wednesday” instead of “Abigail’s column” (or something with some cute alliteration), as if Abigail’s contributions boil down to her essential woman-ness instead of, idk, her being a fully formed person with an individual perspective. Insisting on labelling her as The Woman and this column as The Woman’s column seems like the worst kind of pat on the back, as if you should be proud that there is a SINGLE female in your boy’s club collective. And I’d still like to know what the ‘girlier sensibility’ is. And that sports column remark is unnecessarily gendering.

      • Also, it would be nice if you’d let Abi speak for herself, since this is a comment on her column and I was kind of hoping to engage her, not her male keeper. Haha.

    • Hi Amina! You’re right, calling my column Woman Wednesday does seem a little tokenistic, and is probably a poor choice of moniker. Like Kevin said, “Woman Wednesday” means something more like “Abi’s Weekly Wednesday Post”, but I definitely understand why identifying my space on the blog as “woman’s” space is problematic, and how the name reduces me to a stereotyped version of my gender. TBH, I just really liked the alliteration.

      It’s not so much that the rest of the blog’s content isn’t for women, but that it’s not really for me, as TYA is a part of a subculture that I’m only nominally interested in. Kevin contradicted himself a bit in his comment below when he said both that mine would be a column that is different from, “what us guys…traditionally like to talk about” and also, “a woman’s perspective on things that we would talk about”. I intend for it to be the former. Having a designated weekly column creates a place for cultural critique that wouldn’t otherwise fit into the blog’s usual areas of interest.

      Finally, I 100% agree with your point about “girlier sensibility”. I really don’t know what that phrase means either, and I debated putting it in for a while. In retrospect (of one day, lol), it’s totally meaningless and I regret it. The “Woman Wednesday” column is about things that fit my sensibility. Pop music is one of them and it’s not necessarily a “girly” thing.

      Question for you: Do you find the title “Woman Wednesday” problematic enough that I should change it?


      • I totally understand where you are going with this column, and having your own space on the blog is important and fantastic. I think TYA would benefit from promoting your perspective more visibly. In that light, however, I don’t really see where “Woman Wednesday” fits in, since (in your own words) this is a column about YOUR sensibility, not necessarily a “girly” one or even one which discusses women’s issues. I don’t think this is a woman’s column, at least not beyond the sense that you’re writing it and you happen to be a woman. But ultimately it’s up to you what you call it — I don’t find the title problematic, per se, and I would understand your reasoning either way if you decided to keep or change it.

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