Nothing makes pop music more enjoyable than verbose academic analysis. You can’t fully appreciate the Beatles until you understand that “Eight Days a Week” was probably a reference to the Burmese Buddhist calendar, which divides Wednesday into two days. You can’t really glimpse into Elton John’s psyche until you can comprehend the ballistic, aerodynamic and propulsive technology that allowed Bennie to have so many Jets.
This is the premise behind our Teensplainer series, which offers critical analysis and, where appropriate, scientific debunking of popular song lyrics. Having a tough time enjoying Adele’s “Hello” because you can’t shake the feeling that she probably didn’t literally call the guy “a thousand times” and besides, if she really wanted to talk to him, she would have called him on his cell phone, and not at “home”? Does Rihanna’s “Umbrellas” kinda bug you because you have an intimate level of familiarity with historical meteorological patterns and are therefore quite certain that it isn’t “raining more than ever”? Do you kinda wanna give Justin Bieber an atomic wedgie just because he’s Justin Beiber?
That last one has nothing to do with our series but it’s a fair question.
Anyway, we can’t promise that we’ll wedgie Justin Bieber on your behalf, but we’re happy to help with all the other stuff. We may not be teens anymore but we try to keep up on stuff. (Y’all still say “on fleek,” right?)
Anyway, since we can relate, we’re here to offer you exactly what we think most teens want out of their popular music: demystifying critical analysis.
Let us be your popular music interpreter, your finger on the pulse, your teensplainer.
Justin Timberlake Medical Misinformation Campaign—Public Health Advisory Regarding “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”
We know that when Justin Timberlake speaks, you tend to listen. He’s just so darned charming and likeable. But that doesn’t mean you should take healthcare advice from the guy. Brimming with infectious beats and medical misinformation, "Can't Stop the Feeling," perpetuates the dangerous myth that dancing is an effective treatment for intractable bone and blood dysfunction. We explore the public health dangers implicated by Timberlake’s smash hit, “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”
Miley Cyrus Doesn’t Understand the Basic Mechanics of Demolition: A Vocational Analysis of “Wrecking Ball”
Miley Cyrus betrays a clear and disturbing lack of basic knowledge on the subject of demolition. Her 2013 hit song "Wrecking Ball" is rife with missed opportunities to educate listeners on modern procedures in building deconstruction. Instead, her composition is a litany of misconceptions about the technology used to raze buildings in a controlled and non-hazardous environment. We take a vocational perspective in outlining the holes in the singer’s premise.
In 2016, Taylor Swift and Zayn Malik scored a major hit with "I Don't Wanna Live Forever," but is this boilerplate composition about estranged lovers actually obscuring a rare and troubling neurological disorder? The lyrical content hints at Swift’s case of intractable pareidolia and suggests that the singer may not even be fully aware of her affliction. We examine Swift’s prognosis.
“Lean On” by Major Lazer has been played over a billion times on Spotify and over two billion times on YouTube. Despite this pop popularity, the explicit Messianic theme of post-apocalyptic survival permeating this mid-tempo electro-banger has generally gone unnoticed by commercial and critical audiences alike. Some might declare the tune has all the markings of a sentimental composition about love and aging. Not us. We dig deeper—to the very cataclysmic core.