Raise Your Glass for Fireworks and Other Nonsensical Pop

Katy Perry has “Firework”. Lady Gaga has Born This Way“. Ke$ha has “We R Who We R”. Hell, Pink has two, Raise Your Glass” and “F***in’ Perfect“. Bruno Mars worships a love interest in Just the Way You Are.”

The songs are anthems to confidence, personal beauty, and self-love. Isn’t this a great trend? Don’t these songs just make you feel good about yourself and want to dance?

Not me.

In a nation full of screw-ups, it seems irresponsible to tell people they’re okay just the way they are, when we should be telling everyone (including ourselves) to get their lives in order.

And obviously, because this is cheesy pop music, the lyrics are sub-par at best. This is to be expected, even accepted, but “Firework” is the biggest offender and crosses the line. The song is composed of a series of poorly-written, unrelated metaphors. “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag? Brighter than the moon?” And Katy Perry, maybe we don’t want to be compared to a firework. Maybe we’d rather not have one shining moment only to fade into obscurity. That’s what fireworks are Katy, and some of us don’t appreciate your message.


Pink’s solution, in both “Raise Your Glass” and “F***in’ Perfect”, is to get drunk and tell other people off. Great problem solving, I’ll be sure to put that to use.

It’s understood that this is goofy pop written by people who can’t make the notes without autotune (or not even written by them at all). They’re something to listen to while sipping on drinks and rubbing yourself up against other warm bodies. For these songs in particular, words and content are important, and they don’t deliver. Music about drinking, dancing, and hooking up gets a pass because it’s unapologetically simple. That’s okay as long as everyone is having a good time.

These “self-love” songs are different in that they attempt to be meaningful; something to listen to in the car alone for self-motivation, but the meaning is hollow. They’re the drunk blonde on reality TV that like, really wants to be understood the world, you know?

These songs perpetuate the “everyone wins” mentality that has created a generation of entitled behavior, narcissism, and greed.

Of course, there are songs that already accomplish the feat of a positive anthem with meaning and conflict, but these songs aren’t the ones being played every hour on the radio.

“Born This Way” is especially disappointing. Originally, Gaga seemed to have found a place between pop and raw emotion. She had the dark stalker mood in “Paparazzi,” the satirical, malicious portrayals of vanity and fame in Beautiful Dirty Rich,” and the other offerings of The Fame album. Now she’s repeating the same choruses as everyone else, and it’s disappointing to see her become what she previously parodied. There will still be tender memories of listening to Speechless and remembering the good times.

The problem is almost as simple as the songs themselves. Pink is far too old to be worrying about her hair the way she does in “F***in’ Perfect”. Katy Perry is old enough to understand that there will occasionally be feelings of emptiness (in her poor words, “like a plastic bag”), but that life is more complex than simply claiming everything will be okay. And Lady Gaga? She of all people should know that the body that comes squealing out of the birth canal is entirely different than the person that develops over the years (look at her in the last year alone).

What pop music needs is for someone to take a stand and write a song about self-improvement and emotional growth. America needs someone to write a song called, “You’re 27 and Still Work in a Hollister. Get it Together.”

Beyonce, are you reading this?

Justin Hoffman I'm a student and writer in Columbus, Ohio. I've worked for a variety of jobs in promotions, marketing, and writing. I'm here to share, learn, and maybe score a few laughs along the way. Twitter: @JustinRHoffman

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2 Responses to “Raise Your Glass for Fireworks and Other Nonsensical Pop”

  1. Mark

    A nation full of screw ups? That’s a bit disrespectful and inconsiderate to say in a time when teen suicides have dominated the headlines. I think these songs are speaking more to the young kids who get teased for being too fat, too skinny, too gay, etc. Kids have taken their own lives because people have called them “screw ups.” These hits are there to remind some of these people that while they may be different, they still matter. You can go ahead and “rub your warm body” to “Born This Way,” but some kid out there might take it a different way.

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  2. Siyabonga Africa

    Justin, I am totally with you on this one. I think there is a message in some of these songs but it’s drowned by banal lyrics and autotuned noise. I know that i probably sound like someone hankering for yesteryear but in all honesty I really don’t get popculture these days…and the music that comes with it. Maybe this is the point that we come to and this is the new iteration of what music should sound like; I mean our parents must think that our tastes in music were equally atrocious in the 90s and early 2000s.

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