Wrabel – The Village

This song is broadly about the issue of being LGBTQ+ and being brought up in the Catholic Church, but it was specifically written as a response to a withdrawal of federal protection for trans students in public school and then released following Trump’s trans military ban in July 2017.

“The Village” is a haunting and beautiful song that chronicles some of the myriad macro/microagressions that LGBTQ+ people face, especially when it comes to people who use their religion as an excuse for bigotry and hatred. The song is largely comprised of piano, strings, and vocals, and for the most part follows the same 4-chord structure throughout. Lyrically, the song most accurately portrays the experience of a trans man who is being discouraged from making any kind of physical attempts to transition, but the chorus is general enough that it could apply to any LGBTQ+ person, or anybody who feels ostracized by society for that matter. Wrabel’s delivery has a duality to it; in the verses, he sounds tired, beaten down, and then in the choruses his voice soars and harmonies accompany him in assuring the listener “There’s nothing wrong with you, it’s true, it’s true.”

My reason for choosing this song as a potential option is because I have a lot of personal stake in it as a gay man who was raised Catholic. A lot of the lyrics resonate strongly with me, and there’s an encouragement and a feeling of being seen that comes with this song. I tend to put more work into issues that I’m passionate about, and I think this song would bring that out in me. My only real concerns are that Wrabel is not an incredibly popular artist and the song is fairly recent as well, which means there might not be as much available in terms of background research. However, there is a beautiful music video and some live performances available as well, which I think would allow me to dive even deeper into the song.


Marina – Hollywood

Formerly known as Marina and the Diamonds, Marina is an English singer who has been making music since 2005. This song in particular is from her first album, The Family Jewels, and was written as both an ode to and a critique of America and its culture. Marina has admitted: “I’m saying: ‘This is who I was. Hollywood infected my brain and I really valued the wrong things in life, but I changed dramatically.’ This obsession with celebrity culture is really unhealthy. I don’t want to live my life like that, and I don’t want to be a typical pop star.” She herself is in love with American culture and how obsessed we are with celebrity and consumerism, but at the same time she still loves it.

Sonically, the song is upbeat and almost cinematic, likely to further this idea of Hollywood as this looming and complex entity. When it comes to the lyrics Marina doesn’t pull any punches, with lines like “Hollywood infected your brain,” “Living in the movie scene, puking American dreams,” and “I’m obsessed with the mess that’s America.” The lyrics are highly satirical, and Marina herself has called the song “sarcastic and cynical.” Her delivery is also particularly interesting; her vocals for the most part are particular and beautiful, but in some places she slips into other voices that toe the line of being over-theatrical to add to the song’s overall mood.

I have more concerns about this song than about my first; I’m not sure if the issue it’s protesting is as important/impactful, or if it’s as clearly a protest song. For that matter, it’s also not as obviously a social justice issue, but more a critique on society as a whole. I love Marina as an artist and she makes a lot of music that provides commentary on culture, and that’s why I was drawn to this for this project. I also know there are other versions that exist, including an “Orchestral Version” with extended lyrics and an overhauled sound, which could provide a different view of the song and its message.