Recently, Maroon 5 debuted their new single, “Animals,” in part of their new album, V. As a Maroon 5 fan, I downloaded the song right away, and loved it. I would find myself constantly blasting the tune in my headphones as I walked to class, singing along to the catchy anthem. But was I missing something? Was there something wrong in what I was singing? The words, “Baby I’m preying on you tonight / Hunt you down / Eat you alive / Just like animals…” weren’t completely registering with me at first. Did I even realize the song’s promotion of violence and objectification of women? If we really think about it, we see that these elements appear in countless hit songs on today’s radio. Yet, we tend to ignore them, and allow these words into our ears and out of our mouths. So what are we really singing, and why are we singing it?
The debate over lyrics like these has been heated, especially since Robin Thicke’s chart-topper, “Blurred Lines,” hit airwaves in 2013. The single sparked controversy worldwide, and many people thought its lyrics endorsed the objectification of women. Throughout the song, Thicke repeats, “I know you want it,” whilst singing, “I hate these blurred lines,” suggesting his confusion with consensual sex and assault. Not only do the lyrics show a complete defamation of women, but mixed with the upbeat melody, make the issue of “rape” something to make light of rather than take seriously. This is similarly seen in Maroon 5’s, “Animals,” where lead singer Adam Levine manages to glorify sexual violence and stalking by attempting to make these issues desirable. Take a look at the music video, which portrays Levine as a butcher obsessed with a woman (played by Levine’s wife Behati Prinsloo). Much of the video shows him violently moving around animal carcasses, surrounded with blood. But because of its captivating sound, we ignore this, only thinking about how much we love the song.
Bottom line: lyrics that endorse these misogynistic behaviors should not be idolized. Meanwhile, the songs that don’t advocate for them are refreshing. Unfortunately, the former has become exceedingly common, as lyrics sung on the radio continue to promote sexual violence and objectification of women. While many of these songs we love to sing to, I realize why my mom turns the radio off when they play. Just because it’s made popular in the media, doesn’t mean we should accept it.