Series: Music Videos that Shaped Me

Music Videos that Shaped Me: Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy”

“If I Were a Boy,” a post-breakup ballad, was Beyoncé’s follow-up single to 2008’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” the definitive girl power anthem of the late 00s (and, let’s face it, still one of the best). It bolstered the contrast between Beyoncé as herself and as Sasha Fierce, and displayed her range as an artist. Fans and critics alike heralded it as a powerful performance, and it followed in the footsteps of “Single Ladies” as a feminist song. While both are reactions to a failed relationship, one is an upbeat battle cry from a woman who rises above a jealous partner, while the...

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Music Videos that Shaped Me: P!nk’s “Stupid Girls”

“Stupid Girls” by P!nk was something of an anthem to my high school self. At the time, I had a hard luck case of special snowflake syndrome. My identity was formed in direct opposition to traditional femininity and the current trends among my peer group. “Stupid Girls” reinforced a lot of my internalized misogyny. Lyrically, the song sends some problematic messages, and when coupled with the visual of the video, reinforced my teenaged notions that it was us vs. them when it came to being girls and women. The video itself is very clearly a product of its time,...

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Music Videos That Shaped Me: AFI’s “The Leaving Song, Part I”

I could not tell if the singer was a man or a woman. All I knew is that they made me feel queasy. I didn’t have an easy 13th year, although I suppose no one does. A shy child with a fragile support system, the previous year had left me near friendless. The new school year came with the return of old friends, who introduced me to Hot Topic and emo bands. We bonded around these things and our classmates every day bullying of us—one day at its most severe, a football player threw a chair at our lunch...

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Music Videos That Shaped Me: Can’t Hold Us Down by Christina Aguilera

I remember seeing Christina Aguilera—after “Genie in a Bottle” was overshadowed by Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby”—break out of her shell with her album Stripped. I remember not fully understanding the lyrics to “Dirty,” loving the message behind “Beautiful,” and jamming to “Fighter.” I was ten or eleven when I first saw her music video “Can’t Hold Us Down” from the same album. I remember it was one of the first music videos that really made me think of how we view women in the media and the double standards of women’s sexual agency versus men’s sexual agency in...

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