The commentary that plagued the biggest hits during 2013 was highly disappointing. Granted, there were a couple of bright spots in music this year amid a sea of let-downs: Pharrell’s genius reigned supreme and Justin Bieber gifted us with his retirement just in time for the holidays. Unfortunately, these couldn’t negate the singles that sparked fascinating (and often ignorant) discourse. The topics at hand like feminism, racism, and gay rights were all ones that needed to be discussed publicly. But the platform that social media provides merely added fuel to these already heated conversations. Here are the top five songs that caused a stir.
Miley Cyrus- “We Can’t Stop”
“We Can’t Stop” was more than a song left on Rihanna’s cutting room floor
and desperately scooped up by Cyrus. It was the lead single from “Bangerz” (her fourth studio album) and a sizable attempt to drown out the Disney days once and for all. Most importantly, it was the catalyst for conversation regarding Cyrus’ reprehensible cultural appropriation
, the obsession black men have with white women
, and what it means to be a modern day feminist
. To some, 2013 belonged to Miley Cyrus
. But most of us (read: anyone with half a brain) plan on leaving her pitiful attention-grabbing antics
behind in hopes of a more positive and productive new year.
Kanye West- “Black Skinhead”
Kanye is best known for his outspoken personality — although he’s recently threatened to stop talking altogether
. But “Yeezus” proves that he doesn’t need to give good interview in order to be heard
. When critics weren’t jocking ‘Ye’s fearlessness when it came to eviscerating minimalist territory
, they were doing their best to decipher his artistry
. “Black Skinhead” was the album’s first single, and Kanye’s middle finger to racism, classism, and any other ‘ism’ that he deemed useless. “Yeezus” was the Kanye album that divided his listeners, but 2013 might be the year that divides his fans
Lady Gaga feat. R. Kelly- “Do What U Want”
Gaga has turned her career into nothing more than an ever-evolving shockfest
. But even she couldn’t anticipate the backlash when she decided to make this collaboration the second single from her latest album, “Artpop.” Gaga and Kelly’s brazen antics
, combined with the release of Kelly’s “Black Panties” earlier this year, led to yet another excavation of his sexual past
. Endorsing a talented musician is one thing, but simulating sex with him on national television
is quite another. Kelly naively flirted with social media suicide when he decided to engage in a Twitter Q&A
a few weeks back, further proving that the public doesn’t forgive or forget.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis- “Same Love”
Sadly, mainstream America has embraced the ungifted duo as the new faces of hip-hop
, so it was only natural that “Same Love” would receive the same kind of undeserved adoration. On the surface, the song comes off as a poignant rallying cry in support of gay rights. But upon further inspection, the lyrics to the song
are about as gimmicky as Macklemore’s career. The tune did ignite dialogue on homophobia in rap music, as well as Macklemore’s role in it — some positive
and some not so positive
. The bottom line is that having a straight white male
as the nucleus of such an intense issue rings pretty damn hollow.
Beyonce feat. Jay Z- “Drunk in Love”
Queen Bey prides herself with being 1) private and 2) a perfectionist. Usually, these traits work in her favor. “Beyonce,” the surprise album that was released earlier this month, shattered records
and solidified Mrs. Carter as an unstoppable creative force
. However, releasing “Drunk in Love” as her first single wasn’t the best move. Not only is she upstaged by Jay’s ferocious lyricism on the track
, the holier-than-thou soapbox Bey’s masterfully erected for herself gets called into question. Beyonce endorses domestic violence
? Could never be a real feminist
? Hates gay people
? Apparently, it’s OK to question her character based on the content of one album instead of the songs that span her entire career.