Good/Bad Song: Big Girls Don't Cry by Fergie
2007 marks the fifth year that I've listened to the Top 100, which means I have listened to 500 pop songs, a stunning percentage of which are breakup songs. Some of them are bitter, some of them are self-loathing, some of them are desperate. Very few have been "well this is over so I have to take care of myself" songs. This is. Which is especially refreshing coming from a female singer.
The difference is especially stark because the two songs are basically about the same thing: men treating women badly in relationships. But this song is more about expectations than accepting the way it is because that's how it always is.
I wish there would be more songs like this. Not necessarily because I think they're right, but because at least they open up the conversation and lend some kind of variety to the narrative. This isn't whiny at all, it's frank and honest and not wrong. It's a different perspective, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Bad Song: Smack That by Akon and Eminem
I don't usually do in-depth analyses of club songs on this blog because it's pretty pointless to do it. I just can't find a club song that's not both somewhat offensive and really, really boring. But this is a special case.
I think my favorite anecdote about this song is the time my mother--who is a teacher--told me that she was in the principal's office at her school and a parent who was in the office's phone rang. This song was her ringtone. Keep that in mind now.
This is a song about spanking a girl. Straight up.
If you're a lady who's into spanking, more power to you, I don't object. But keep in mind he has not EVER SPOKEN TO THIS GIRL EVER. He wants to speak to her expressly so that he can take her home and spank her. And not just a couple times. Until she's sore. Ugh. And, for some reason, Eminem's verse is about taking a stripper back to his place. What is it with the strip club thing? Someday I will find out, I swear.
Good Song: Runaway Love by Ludacris and Mary J. Blige
I'm just gonna put this up front, Ludacris is kind of a gross rapper. Maybe this song seems so great in contrast to all of his other songs, but I think it's genuinely pretty cool even on its own. Is it a little Dateline-sounding? Sure. But I believe that these could be real stories. And they're all about girls.
This song has three verses, each of which is devoted to the story about one little girl. The first has a mother who's a drug addict and a prostitute whose clients abuse her nine-year-old daughter. The second is a girl whose father is abusive and whose only friend dies is a drive-by shooting. The third is a girl who has a tough home life so she takes drugs and ends up pregnant by an older boy who doesn't want anything to do with her. They sound melodramatic, but I guarantee these are not impossible or even unlikely situations. The fact that this song was made by a major rap star and was a hit is really really awesome. And yes, I do cry every. single. time I hear this song. Seriously, every time.
Bad Song: Rockstar by Nickelback
I swear this wasn't one of my selections just because I hate Nickelback, though it definitely helps. This song is the rock equivalent of every rap song about being rich and famous. And this song just exacerbate the biggest problem I have with those songs. In brag songs, women are just objects like cars and expensive bottles of booze and jewelry. They are accessories that men use to accentuate and show their wealth. Here, it's worse.
Sure, this song is also about buying a bunch of stuff, but it seems to also be about buying women if the kind they expect to pick up are gold diggers and Playboy bunnies. In the second verse he even emphasizes that he's going to "date a centerfold who loves to blow my money for me." Uhhh, why? Do you really just want a girl who wants you because you're rich? Why is that a perk?
Women are not perks to being famous, music stars. We're people, we have likes and dislikes "and not just those printed next to that centerfold's picture). Give us a break. It gets old fast.
Good Song: Beautiful Liar by Beyonce and Shakira
This is an incredibly honest song, I think. It's about two women who find out that one guy has been dating both of them at the same time and telling them both the same exact thing. So they do their best to reconcile what they believe their relationships were with the reality. And they realize that they are angry at each other though they shouldn't be, and that they both feel ashamed. But at the same time, they come to the conclusion that it isn't worth it to be ashamed or angry.
I'm not always all "The men aren't worth it, sisterhood forever!" but in the case of some guy committing to two girls at the same time it's time to say screw him and not get pissed at the other girl he was with. Thanks for not advocating girl-on-girl crime, Beyonce and Shakira!
Good Song: Face Down by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
Yes, I had more good songs this year than bad songs. Isn't that exciting? Anyway, this song is fantastic. I talked about Eminem and Rihanna's domestic abuse song in 2010. That it it was somewhat good and bad. This one is just straight-up good.
In this song, a man is talking about a girl who he likes and cares about who is being abused by her boyfriend. There's not much else to say.
He is tearing this guy APART telling him that someday his girlfriend is going to realize what an asshole he is, and she's going to leave him and be happy without him. I love that. I think it's really awesome. A little paternalistic? Maybe. But this song would work if a man OR a woman were singing it. I think that this is a perfect sentiment for a song like this.
I'm gonna wrap this up here. 2007 was actually a pretty good year. I'm glad to see that things are getting better as I go further back. I hear that someone may have brought sexy back in 2006, so I guess we'll find out.
Some General Thoughts on the Billboard Top 100 Songs of 2007
- There were 29 songs by female artists or male/female collaborations this year. However, seven of the top ten were by female artists. This is bizarre. That is a shockingly low number in the Top 100 and a shockingly high number in the Top 10.
- After doing 2007 it is clear that 2008 was a highly transitional year for pop music. There were a lot of songs in the 2007 top 100 that could be classified as "rock" but in 2008 most of the rock songs were replaced with dance pop and it has remained that way ever since
- Gwen Stefani's solo stuff is terrible, which is a shame especially since one of No Doubt's songs was the entire impetus for this project.
- This was the year "Make It Rain" became a thing. Gross. Ten points from 2007.
- I will give one hundred dollars to the first person who can explain to me what "Welcome To The Black Parade" by My Chemical Romance is about.