Lyrics Over Likes: Why We Should Care About the Words

♪Sí, sabes que ya llevo un rato mirándote♪

♪저 하늘을 높이 날고 있어♪

Those are two lines from the global hits, Despacito by Luis Fonsi and Boy with Luv by BTS featuring Halsey. Many of us are oblivious to what those lyrics mean. Yet that didn’t take away our affinity for songs in foreign languages. 

With music-sharing platforms such as YouTube and Spotify, songs, regardless of their language, are able to spread globally. Artists of different cultures can have their time to shine. They have the opportunity to resonate with millions of listeners with their well-crafted melody, not their native words. 

Meanwhile, the Hip-Hop industry has a huge fanbase even though it’s known to be a space of misogynistic and negative racial comments. Rappers such as Eminem and Jay-Z have been highly praised, yet sexist language has been rooted in many of their tracks.  Additionally, many hip-hop tracks are able to gain their ubiquity even without deliberate messages. Tracks like, Gucci Gang by Lil Pump and Walk It Talk It by Migos, have no definite message. Yet, Gucci Gang stood on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart for 24 weeks. Listeners didn’t seem to care about the purpose of those words. 

However, the Hip-Hop industry isn’t completely an amoral genre. There has been a ripple of well-intentioned artists such as Macklemore, Logic, and Lizzo; they expressively write about social issues regardless of the controversy. In “Otherside,” Macklemore recited about drug addiction, in “Same Love” about LGBTQ+ rights, and in “A Wake” about social indifference. Logic, in his album “Everybody,” passionately addressed the racism, mental health, and inequality engraved within our society. Lizzo stepped out of the conventional standard of beauty and empowered confidence in people with her lyrics in Juice, “If I’m shinin’, everybody gonna shine.” They understand the power of words, and they use them to advantage the societies that they influence. 

At the same time, artists in other genres also put their souls into writing meaningful and purposeful lyrics. Taylor Swift is eminent for writing personal lyrics, and her new shift in musical style hasn’t taken that away from her. In ME!, she gleefully sang about embracing her uniqueness, “I’m the only one of me,” and in “You Need to Calm Down,” she threw shade at homophobic bigots, and empowered those in the LGBTQ+ community. Similarly, the young New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde is also no stranger to profound personal lyrics. All of her songs have a taste of her complex feelings. One of my favorites, “Writer in the Dark” doesn’t have an upbeat rhythm, but the sentimental melody blends in so well with words of pain, subconsciously reminding her listeners that they’re not alone. 

By paying attention to those well-crafted words, we are paying respect to those artists and their indispensable contribution to our society. Those artists have the ability to shine a light on the imperfections of the world, not to dim our positivity, but to offer needed therapies, to provoke solidarity in these perpetual conflicts. Every one of them has eloquently connected with our emotions and experiences by writing about their vulnerabilities and spotlight that in front of the global stage, even if that isn’t easy.  

Nonetheless, I’m not saying we shouldn’t listen to songs with lyrics we don’t understand or songs with lightweight lyrics. Rather, I’m saying we should concentrate more on words. We should award artists’ words of vulnerability and their intention of improving our societies. Music is such a significant part of our lives, so why not learn from the words of wisdom beautifully sung by those refined artists? From now, we should value songs not just based on their appeal to our ears, but also based on their appeal to our minds.

By Thathiny Tep


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