Just a Girl / No Doubt (1995)

This song resonated with me as a strong, feminist anthem. The lyrics describe Gwen Stefani’s perspective living as a woman in society, as well as growing up with strict parents. The way Gwen/No Doubt chose to deliver this piece I believed helped contribute to its success. Through the song, she was able to put forth a sarcastic tone singing phrases like “I’m just a girl… guess I’m some kind of freak”. Gwen gathered examples from her female friends and family members to truly capture what it feels like to be to be deemed “just a girl”. In an interview with People, Gwen says that her idea to write this song came from driving home late at night. She thought to herself, “Wow, I’m in the car right now, I’m driving home, it’s like one in the morning and if something did happen to me, I’m vulnerable because I’m a girl… and you start to think, ‘Wow, maybe people actually look at me different because I am a female'”. I think many females can relate to this song ideals. And with with this realization, came the pop hit.

By choosing to deliver this message in an upbeat, rock style I believe helped reach a greater audience during this time. One music critic described it as a “pseudo-new wave” track, which I think characterizes it very well. In the music video you see people coming in to jump around and dance, which is exactly what the song makes you want to do. The guitar and and drums add to the more rock-and-roll style that is No Doubt. The music video contributes to the message as well. You see women in stereotypical outfits (such as maids) and serves as a “commentary on society”. No Doubt members Dumont and Kanal both stated that it’s supposed to represent equality between the sexes.

As mentioned, the lyrics are often said in a sarcastic way in which I believe get the message across even more clearly. Stefani sings phrases like: “Don’t you think I know exactly where I stand? / This world is forcing me to hold your hand”. I really like the lines further into the song where it says: Oh I’m just a girl, my apologies / What I’ve become is so burdensome / Oh I’m just a girl, lucky me”. In my gender studies class this semester, we are learning about how women have been conditioned to say sorry for things we shouldn’t. I think Gwen does a great job of capturing these societal norms and patterns many females face.

This song would be very interesting to analyze for our podcast assignment. The topic of women’s rights and equality is one that should continue to be addressed. Being that I am taking a gender studies course this semester, I would like to see what comparisons or analogies I could make. I have found many websites with commentary on this song, so I think it would be a fun song to continue to research.

Psycho / Muse  (2015)

The second song I’m considering is Muse’s “Psycho”. This song was off their album Drones. To me, this song is the definition of a protest anthem. Matt Bellamy (the lead singer), sings about soldiers in war and how they become victims to “brainwashing”. He is said to use more curse words in this song than he has in his whole time as the band’s frontman and songwriter. In the music video, we see frequent clips of a drill sergeant speaking to the camera with responses from a soldier screaming “I am a psycho killer”. The video itself seems robotic yet terrifying at the same time. In an interview with BBC, Bellamy explains his entire album Drones and his thought process behind it. Each song carries a meaning and narrative moving forward. He explains his some of his thought process by saying, “To me, a drone is a metaphor for what it is to loose modern empathy and start to not really care much about what’s going on in the world and going on around you. I think that through modern technology, and obviously through drone warfare in particular, it’s possible to actually do quite horrific things by remote control, at a great distance, without actually feeling any of the consequences, or even feeling responsible in some way,” he said. With PTSD in mind, this idea is something many soldiers and military families could relate to.

Its beat is steady throughout, with heavy instrumentals that drive the song forward with guitar riffs and drum beats. Muse’s music style choice seamlessly matches the protest anthem they’re trying to portray (as well as keeping with their more typical genre).  Bellamys voice seems calmer in contrast to the music and those clips in the music video. When clips emerge of the drill sergeant and/or soldier, Bellamy is silenced and the music changes its tempo. This gives you no choice but to listen to the yelling between the men, which to me is a sobering conversation. Listening to the refrain was actually pretty alarming after I did it over 20 times. “I’m gonna make you / I’m gonna break you / I’m gonna make you / A fucking psycho”. This continues and gets even deeper when he sings: “Your mind is just a program / And I’m the virus / I’m changing the station / I’ll improve your thresholds / I’ll turn you into a super drone (super drone)”. I think this was incredibly brave of Bellamy and Muse to say.  To imply that those in the military are ‘brainwashed’ is not entirely far fetched in my opinion, and shouldn’t be neglected. It is a sad truth.

I think this song provides incredible commentary on the world we live in today- and how willing we are to accept that world. I would enjoy researching further into Muse’s entire 2015 album Drones, as it is said to be a protest piece in its entirety. I think this would give me a greater understanding as to where his thought process came from and where it might be going.


-Caroline Neupauer