• Till it Happens to You – Lady Gaga
  • Cherry Wine – Hozier 

Till It Happens to You

In Lady Gag’s song, she addresses the all too common issue women face on college campuses of sexual assault and rape. In the past few years, this topic has entered into a new light as more women have come forward to speak up, and the growth of the Me Too Movement. However, despite the women coming forward and telling their stories, they are often faced with enormous amounts of criticism, suspicion, and indifference, telling them that they either brought it upon themselves or that they are being over-dramatic and need to “get over it”. These women are left in a position of complete unsupported vulnerability, and receive backlash for their experiences, while the assaulters often get away with little punishment or criticism. Unfortunately, college campuses and cultures continue to perpetuate this attitude, creating situations that become breeding grounds for sexual assault and rape, such as greek houses and parties. Gaga’s song puts much-needed light onto the perspective of the victim, acknowledging the harsh reality of speaking out. 


Cherry Wine: 

In Hozier’s folk song, the topic of domestic abuse was brought to light from the side of the victim. Hozier’s unique songwriting and choice in music videos make it a song that allows both men and women to take responsibility for domestic violence both on either side of it.  Hozier sings about the happy moments of the relationship seeming perfect and like the ideal relationship which makes the abuse seem worth it, although it is only a small part of their relationship. Despite the modern social justice movements such as Me Too and HeForShe, domestic abuse is still one of the largest issues faced around the world, with over ⅓ of women globally experiencing domestic abuse from their partner, whether it be physically or sexually. Additionally, the USA is one of the worst perpetrators among first-world countries, with an average of nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner, adding up to over 20 million victims in a year. This social justice issue must be addressed and combatted further, and Hozier has sought to raise awareness through his music.


For both, I believe that my research with the songs will lead me to in-depth understanding and learning of sexual assault and domestic abuse, both of which are major social justice issues to modern societies. Hopefully, learning about these songs will connect me to more songs that focus on and acknowledge the persistent abuse that women, and even men, experience, including sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, child marriage, FGM, and human trafficking. 

In “Till It Happens to You”, The pop song features typical chord progressions and key of pop songs, but also has an orchestral backing, with soaring strings and a minor key, emphasizing the dark lyrics. Hozier’s “Cherry Wine” is a folk song that features an acoustic guitar with a plucked string tone, a common trait of folk music. However, Hozier’s unique use of positive-sounding guitar composition and plucked strings is an interesting contrast to the dark subject being sung about.

Both songs connect closely to the MeToo Movement that dominated the late 2010’s, where numerous women came out against sexual abuse and assault they’ve experienced in the past, such as Weinstein’s many victims. Additionally, protests such as the Annual Women’s March of 2017, also known as the Pussy March, became to be a symbolic representation of the new wave of feminism that took heavy cues from the Feminist Movement of the late ‘60s and ‘70s. The MeToo Movement and Women’s March of 2017 both heavily coincide with these songs and their topics, acting as a marker of their connection to protest history. 


I have very personal connections with both songs, with both topics being very close to my heart. In “Till it Happens to You”, I don’t want to go into much detail, but I’ve been a victim of sexual assault several times in my childhood and adult life, with every experience being at the hands of much older men that were trusted by those who surrounded me. When I heard “TIll It Happens to You”, I completely resonated with the narration and the unfortunately all too common reaction I received when I told people about it years later. Additionally, I know Lady Gaga has been a victim as well, and it’s always a very personal connection to have someone else understand the mental effects and struggle that it brings.


For “Cherry Wine”, domestic abuse has been something that I saw within my friend’s relationship in high school, being a firsthand witness to the mental and physical consequences of domestic abuse. In 2 years, she had become completely dependent and sucked into the relationship, not even being able to consider breaking up with her abuser at the threat of her being responsible for their “imminent suicide”. It was heart-wrenching to see someone I was close with becoming isolated and a shell of herself due to the relationship, and it made me very aware of the issue of domestic abuse. Additionally, I worked with the UN as a Girl Scout, being invited to the International Day of Girl, where I heard stories from girls all around the world about the extent of the abuse they underwent at such young ages. From there I helped create HeForShe day at my school annually for years and gave numerous presentations and videos about global domestic abuse. So, the subject is very important and personal to me, and having songs such as “Cherry Wine” is amazing in giving those who haven’t experienced anything of it an inside perspective. 


Frankly, I don’t have any concerns about doing this project. Having been lucky enough to take a podcasting class with Hammer in Summer 2020, I was well-taught about how to write, speak, edit, and transcript podcasts for the public, and I loved the opportunity of doing it on subjects that I found interesting. This project to me is an extension of that learning opportunity, so I’m looking forward to brushing up on my knowledge of podcasting. Maybe the one worry I have is how to make enough content to fulfill the time requirement.