Pop music often serves as a dull lens on society, focusing a general lack of intellect into a two-and-a-half-minute shiny shell of senselessness. Whether it’s Adele pretending she’s some sort of super hero who can set rain on fire or John Lennon’s shallow “classic” about daydreaming to avoid the real world, pop music is about as introspective as a drunken conga line headed for a steep cliff.
That’s why it’s so refreshing to see a young group of songstresses put serious thought into one of the tough issues of our time. Artists Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj recently released an intellectual debate on the gun rights issue disguised in the form of a hit pop song entitled “Bang Bang.” In the catchy song, each of the three singers argues for a side, weaving their opposing viewpoints melodically through this enchanting dialogue of ideas.
What’s even more interesting is that, in true debate style, these artists don’t necessarily sing for the side they actually associate with. Jessie J, for example, represents the stiff upper lip of Britain in a headlining role, but she takes the brave stance of pro-gun-rights in the song.
[Verse 1 – Jessie J:]
She got a body like an hourglass, but I can give it to you all the time
She got a booty like a Cadillac, but I can send you into overdrive (oh)
(You’ve been waiting for that, stop, hold up, swing your bat)
See anybody could be bad to you,
You need a good girl to blow your mind, yeah
Jessie comes out swinging (or should I say shooting?) in her opening lines. Setting the stage for a true battle of intellects, Ms. J weaves literary metaphor with personal experience and down-to-earth logic.
“The gun is sexy,” she implies, “the gun is fast.” Every American can appreciate these basic truths. But guns are about more than sex appeal, and Jessie knows the true evil that lurks in humans: “Anybody could be bad to you,” and swinging a baseball bat is just not going to keep you safe in the modern world. “You need a good (gun) to blow your mind.” Yeah.
[Verse 2 – Ariana Grande:]
She mighta let you hold her hand in school, but I’mma show you how to graduate
No, I don’t need to hear you talk the talk, just come and show me what your mamma gave (oh, yeah)
(You’ve got a very big shhhh, mouth but don’t say a thing)
See anybody could be good to you,
You need a bad girl to blow your mind.
Next into the pulpit is Ms. Grande who speaks for the more liberal minded and, perhaps, optimistic crowd. Representing the educated elite (those who know “how to graduate”), Arianna expresses a strong confidence in the government (“your mamma”) to keep us safe.
As anyone can read into the lyrics, Arianna is basically saying, “Yes, the government gave you the right to carry firearms along with the right to free speech, but the founding fathers certainly never intended for you to have such a “big shhhh” (aka, fully automatic rifles) nor for you to speak your mind against just anything you don’t like.” Ever the optimist, Ms. Grande insists that humans are inherently good and should be treated as such until they prove otherwise (at which point your mamma will step in to protect you).
[Verse 3 – Nicki Minaj:]
(You know what girls?
Let me show you how to do)
It’s Myx Moscato
It’s frizz in a bottle
It’s Nicki full throttle
It’s oh, oh
Swimming in the grotto
We winning in the lotto
We dipping in the pot of blue foam, so
Kitten so good
It’s dripping on wood
Get a ride in the engine that could
Go, Batman robbin’ it
Bang, bang, cockin’ it
Queen Nicki dominant, prominent
It’s me, Jessie, and Ari
If they test me they sorry
Ride us up like a Harley
Then pull off in this Ferrari
If he hanging we banging
Phone ranging, he slanging
It ain’t karaoke night but get the mic ’cause I’m singing (uh)
B to the A to the N to the G to the uh (baby)
B to the A to the N to the G to the hey
See anybody could be good to you,
You need a bad girl to blow your mind (your mind)
Finally, ever the voice of reason, Ms. Minaj steps up to the mic and calmly puts everything into perspective. In a rubber-bullet-machine-gun burst of syllables, Nicki simultaneously embraces both sides and brings them in for a handshake. “We’re not so different in our views,” her lyrics imply.
I couldn’t make her lyrics any clearer, so I won’t bother with a line by line interpretation. Suffice it to say that Ms. Minaj once again appeals to all walks of life from alcoholics to swim fans to lottery winners to cat lovers to Thomas the train and Batman fans t0 bikers and even lonely karaoke singers. B to the A, indeed!
More than just a commentary on present day politics, I truly believe this song has the power to shape the future of our planet. No matter your views on the gun issue, a good pop song debate can make us all feel better about the over/under-abundance of weapons/self-defense-tools in the world.
And since all I’ve really done here is re-state the philosophies of three powerful thinkers, I might as well let these great ladies have the final say on the issue of gun rights:
Bang, bang into the room (I know you want it)
Bang bang all over you (I’ll let you have it)
Wait a minute let me take you there (ah)
Wait a minute ’till ya (ah)
Imagine that, John Lennon!