When you’re driving down the road, blasting music through the radio, how often are you dancing along to your favorite tunes about night clubs? Parties? Having fun?
What about heartbreak?
Recording female artist Taylor Swift is notorious for writing songs about her exes, often placing them in a negative light. People know her as this type of songwriter, and she gets a lot of flak for it.
But why is the focus for heartbreak-inspired female singer-songwriters such a bad thing? And why is that male artists don’t seem to get as much backlash for honing in on this craft?
While, yes, Swift does use this extensively (I can think of at least three songs she wrote about Joe Jonas, who broke up with her on the phone), but many people fail to recognize that male artists use thus for their musical inspiration, too.
Look at, for example, Jonas’ rumored retaliation to Swift’s song “Forever and Always.” When still part of The Jonas Brothers, he co-wrote the song “Much Better” with his brothers, which included the lines “Now I’m done with superstars / And all the tears on her guitar” in the first verse. This is supposed to be a lash at one of Swift’s first pop hits, “Teardrops on My Guitar.”
But Jonas isn’t the only male artist to use heartbreak to create pop sensations. Other pop culture icons like Usher use their pain to inspire songs such as his single, “Burn,” which had lyrics such as “Love is the cloud that keeps raining down…We made a mess of what used to be love. / So why do I care, I care at all, at all, at all, at all? / Going nowhere fast. We reached the climax. / We’re together, now we’re undone.” He co-wrote this piece with Redd Stylez, Ariel Rechtshaid, and Diplo.
These male lyrics don’t seem to hold the same “scandal” factor that female artists face from using their bad relationships. While women such as Swift get their songs critically analyzed as to whom inspired the piece, many male artists get responses of “this is my jam!” or “this is so true,” instead of getting the same scrutiny for their writing practices.
Regardless of gender, when someone finds something they’re passionate about, they should be allowed to use it to explain himself of herself. Music is all about creativity, expression and making something new and beautiful.
Being a songwriter, I’ve been asked why I write the songs I do. I tell people simply that it is the rawest form of me, what I believe in, and how I feel. To me, a song is the most meaningful when it comes from the deepest parts of the soul, and for several recording artists, that comes from heartbreak.
In general, why should this be considered a bad thing? People are finding inspiration in what they know, and what they’ve lived through — possibly what they’ve survived.
With music, as with other forms of art, your strongest, most powerful and most beautiful pieces come from drawing on the emotional side of life.
Because it makes you human. And in music, empathy can bring artists and music fans together to help them understand life and love.