Category Archives: Misogyny in Music

Misogyny in Music: One Good Reason Will Do, Asshole

Today’s star of Misogyny in Music is Thirsty Merc, with a song that plagued Australia’s airwaves several years ago. I’m pleased to say I haven’t heard it since, but as it bears the dubious honour of being the only song that drives me to ranting every time I do hear it, let’s record that rant right here.

The song is 20 Good Reasons. Even if it didn’t belong in the Misogyny in Music series, it would still belong in the Jet’s Picks for Most Annoying Songs list for it sheer whininess.

20 Good Reasons is that staple of music, a breakup song. I will spare you the somewhat tortured attempts to rhyme in the verses, because they’re your usual inoffensive breakup fare. (They said love hurts / I wrote that book / I climbed that wall [what?] / I had one look [ouch.]). Etc.

The chorus, however. The chorus is all about our singer’s serious entitlement issues, and it drives me up the bloody wall.

He whines thus:
So tell me why-y-y-y
Should I let you go
Give me 20 good reasons
I need to know
Yeah

Give me 20 good reasons
Give me 20 good reasons
Give me 20 good reasons
To let you go

And I always yell back at the radio that he needs one good reason, asshole, and that is that she* doesn’t want to see you any more. The end, no further discussion.

Let’s be clear. Mr Singer is not asking his ex lover to help him understand what went wrong with their relationship. He is not saying goodbye. He is not even expressing anger at the unexpected end of a relationship. He is demanding that his ex lover explain herself to him, so that he can decide if her reasons – all 20 of them – are in fact “good” enough, and he can then decide if he will deign to “let her go”. Because she is, you know, his to let go or otherwise.

At the end of the second verse, the lyric runs, “And I lost everything / When I lost you“. This is put up as justification for why (y-y-y) he gets to decide if he’s going to “let” her go. Guys like this, they’re the guilt tripping controlling ones. The vibe on this song is start-to-finish creepy. You don’t get to break up with this guy, you get to submit your 20 – no less – essay questions on why he ought to let you go. You’re a captive and all. He’ll decide.

Love songs. Breakup songs. Listen to where the agency is in the lyrics, and how prevalent that sentiment is the world. Normalised.

Thirsty Merc, I Am Not Cake says you can get stuffed with your reasons, and furthermore, that sentiments like this in a relationship ought to get you slapped with a restraining order.

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* I’m assuming that this is a song about a heterosexual relationship, as I’ve not seen anything to suggest otherwise. I’m open to correction if you know different.

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Other posts in the Misogyny in MusicĀ  series: one

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Misogyny in Music: Art vs Science

This is the first in a series on song lyrics that disturb the hell out of me. I’m a Triple J listener – the Australian “youth” radio station who play whatever’s being called alternative at any given time – so that’s generally the kind of songs I’ll hear and write about.

Generally what happens is this: I’m driving along, listening to a new song, usually enjoying it – maybe even for the first few times I hear it. And then I really listen to the lyrics, and there’s a grunching moment. There’s rape culture, right there on my radio, right there in the songs crowds are rocking out to at this years’ festivals. Right there in the words being joyfully screamed out from moshpits everywhere. And it’s bloody depressing.

Example 1: Art vs Science and their catchy, bouncy, upbeat, Parlez Vous Francais – so popular that it was this years’ runner-up in the Hottest 100 music poll.

This is an Australian band singing in (reportedly not very good; I’m no judge) French. I’d like to think that the same song with English lyrics wouldn’t have done so well. I suspect I may be wrong.

The translations provided are a conglomerate of opinions found in various places online. If you actually do speak French and I’ve got something wrong, please correct me.

Verse 1: The Champs-Elysees is a busy street
We getting down with everyone we meet
If you understand, then listen to me:
Si’l vous plait ma cherie allez tombez la chemise! (Please my (female) darling, take off your shirt.)

Chorus: Parlez-vous Francais? (Do you speak French?)
Oui! [chorus of cartoonish, squealing, ecstatic-sounding ‘girl’ voices] (Yes!)
Parlez-vous Francais?
Oui!
Si tu peux le parler allez tombez la chemise (If you can speak/understand [French] then take off your shirt – implication, women only)

Verse 2: Do it now, because you can and I think you should
Do it now, because you can and I told you to

Do it now, because you can, I’ll take mine off too
Do it now, because you can, ‘coz you can

There is a third verse about watching ones’ sexy neighbours with binoculars, but it’s that second verse that chills me. The contrast of the English lyrics to the French, the imperative, authoritative voice, lacking even the pretense of a request, or a suggestion that a woman may indeed wish to take off her shirt for her own reasons. She should do it, and do it now, because the singer told her to. The cartoon girls in the song think it’s a great idea. They sound like they’re having the time of their lives.

I just bet that women in mosh pits when this song is played at a gig have a great time. I can’t imagine that the men around them get any ideas that the women should strip for them if they like it or not, can you?

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Other posts in the Misogyny in MusicĀ  series: one | two