Monday, February 8, 2010

Subjectivities and Popular Music

Somebody around here is doing coursework in the Composition and Rhetoric PhD program at Wayne State University, working towards a dissertation project focusing on how subjectivities and identities are formed through the act of writing in the classroom.

On his way to the gym, because getting PhD's involves way too much late night Taco Bell, the radio played two songs.

What two songs?

"Fifteen" by Grammy award-winning artist Taylor Swift, and "According To You" by Michael Jackson guitarist mono-named Orianthi.

What is interesting about these two songs, juxtaposed as they were, is how both of them consider the formation of identity of young women in the face of external pressures. Consider the following lyrics:

According to you
I'm boring
I'm moody
and you cant take me any place
According to you
I suck at telling jokes cause I always give it away
I'm the girl with the worst attention span
you're the boy who puts up with that

("According to You." performed by Orianthi. written by Steve Diamond and Andrew Frampton)

'Cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You're gonna believe them
When you're fifteen and your first kiss
Makes your head spin 'round
But in your life you'll do things greater than
Dating the boy on the football team
But I didn't know it at fifteen

("Fifteen." written and performed by Taylor Swift)

We think it's interesting that two songs with such similar sensibilities are on the charts at the same time, popular enough to play back-to-back on a Top 40 radio station.

There might be an application for your classroom. How do other people influence who we are? Does popular culture contain enough messages of self-empowerment? Are there any other songs with similar messages?

In case you're unfamiliar with the songs, we've embedded them below.

Somebody around here has homework to do!

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