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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nanyang Tech chapter.

Sometimes pop songs can scream “mediocracy”, especially when the song talks about romance, love, or something related to relationships. It can be tiring to hear the same messages being conveyed repeatedly, even if the beat is bop-worthy. Here are some songs you can check out if you are into lyricism, and get ready for some lyric analysis!

1. Objectified by Sophie Frear 

Objectified is based on Frear’s personal encounter with being sexualised during her career. It details how some have linked her ‘unsuccessful’ music career to her refusal in  objectifying and selling her sexuality to the pop culture market. It contains quips of dialogue from her male critics, and while her musical style is more minimalist, the song still contains powerful lyrics. The spotlight is really on Frear’s voice and her lyrics. My favorite lyrics from the song are the opening lines: 

When did I become so objectified, living in a world where girls are sexualised.

It perfectly illustrates the dangers and price that comes along with being a woman, or even a girl (indicating underaged). This really struck a chord with me. 

2. Sit Still, Look Pretty by Daya 

Sit Still, Look Pretty is a relatively older song since it was released in 2016. The main message is about the objectification of women who are expected to dress up and just look pretty, likening them to prized trophies and possessions that men can show off. Daya is saying that even if she wants to look pretty, she wouldn’t want to “sit still” and be like an invisible object in the room. The song screams defiance against gender norms and expectations and a sense of freedom to do whatever women would like to do. The lyrics: 

The only thing a boy is gonna give a girl for free, is captivity. 

The reality and truth of the statement may hurt, but it highlights how our misogynistic society constantly tries to place women into a shoebox. Ultimately, the song stirs up feelings of outrage against such backward and outdated ideas.

3. cinderella’s dead by EMELIA 

This Tiktok song is representative of new age of feminism as the music has darker, stronger messages and heavier beats. cinderella’s dead tells a story of a girl who didn’t know better and tried to change herself to fit the pure, innocent feminine image that her male partner forced her into. The storytelling through the lyrics are absolutely fabulous and it is worth a listen in my opinion. While there was some controversy surrounding Tik Tok trends that were born out of this song, many empowering stories and testimonies that have since arisen. This has created tighter bonds between women on the platform and created a strong sense of solidarity amongst them. It is  a welcomed change as compared to trends that benefit off the sexualisation of women. The best lyrics for me is in the chorus: 

Breaking all the rules ‘cause they were only habits. 

Whether or not intentional, these lyrics brought out an important theory which is gender interpellation. This concept suggests that we are taught to think, act and feel in certain ways, instead of certain characteristics being inherent to our gender. For example, it is not that being female makes us more submissive, but rather because we are taught to do so from young. The “rules” in the lyrics refer to societal expectations of women, and the “habits” indicate that these are just things we were taught and eventually got used to. However these rules are similarly arbitrary and hold no water. Our value doesn’t lie in being “pure”, and we can be anything we want to be. 

4.Tomboy by Destiny Rogers 

Tomboy is a song that describes the duality of women who can have both feminine and  masculine characteristics and need not be boxed into one. It has a hip hop style which used to be seen as too “strong” for women or unsuitable for the subversive nature of women. My favorite lyrics are: 

My mama said, “Marry a rich man” (Oh, no)

And I was like, “Mama, I am that rich man”

This is in reference to Cher’s quote, where she says “My mom said to me, ‘You know sweetheart, one day you should settle down and marry a rich man. And I said, ‘Mom, I am a rich man.” Especially in the days of Cher where women were heavily financially dependent on men, this quote was and still is iconic. There is no need to rely on men as women can be independent. Simply finding a man or a relationship for money or status is superfluous because all these things can be achieved through a woman’s own merit.  

5. TOMBOY by (G)-IDLE 

The only KPOP song on the list, TOMBOY is a significant song that was a breakthrough in the market. In South Korea where even holding a feminist book can get you cancelled (cue Red Velvet’s Irene), this was a song that broke records worldwide despite it being produced in a country that subjects women to high beauty standards like being pale, having a certain type of face shape and more. The lyricist Soyeon who is the leader of the group, delivered the hard hitting lyrics in her rap and they are an absolute punch in the face of misogyny: 

Your mom raised you as a prince, but this is a queendom right? 

It parallels how parents in patriarchal societies try to raise ‘gentlemen’, but these ‘gentlemen’ are built upon the foundations of men being the head of the households, holding all authority, and thus oppressing women in their roles as wives. These lyrics, which function like a reverse Uno card, indicate that such values only work in a world where princes are highly regarded, but in a “queendom”, where women rule, such authority and arrogance is stripped from men. Unfortunately, when boy groups tried to remake this song, they switched the gender pronouns, even including the word “queendom”. This has caused controversies surrounding the issue of gender inequality in South Korea. Even though TOMBOY was a hit and major breakaway from the usual feminine songs about romance and pure girls, the KPOP industry and South Korea still has a long way to go in terms of dismantling misogynistic ideas. 

Emmy Kwan

Nanyang Tech '25

The embodiment of a "material gworl" but with no money, if she isn't complaining about capitalism, the economy or the patriarchy, you can find Emmy in the aisles of a clothing store, ironically selling her soul to the corporations she often critiques.