Song Fail of the Week: Elle Varner's Vapid "So Fly"
Earlier this week, we heard a song that stopped us dead in our tracks and made our jaws drop a little bit. Not because it's particularly awesome (musically-speaking, it kind of just sounds like a lady version of "The Lazy Song" by Bruno Mars), and not because it's saying something we haven't heard before. No, Elle Varner's "So Fly" single made us listen precisely because it says so much that we are sick of hearing.
"I can't help being depressed, when I look down at my chest,
oh yes, my chest, it might as well be non-existent.
How can I ever compete with 34 double-Ds?"
"Okay," we thought, "she's being sarcastic. Or at the very least, ironic. This is like a post-post-feminist version of 'Dress' by P.J. Harvey! Yes, that must be it! Let's continue listening and see where this goes..."
"So Fly" continues:
"And I'm rolling my eyes when I look down at my thighs,
They might as well tape everything that I eat to my legs.
I am too broke for the knife, too lazy to exercise,
But if I had hazel eyes, maybe I could be fly.
"If I had no cellulite, big breasts and pockets real wide,
Then maybe, I could be so fly.
And if I had a small waist, I'd make the boys go insane,
And maybe I could be so fly."
Is anyone else bored? Isn't Elle Varner kind of belaboring the point? There has to be an intelligent point to all this eventually, right?
And on she goes...
"I've got a beautiful soul, but only four people know,
They've known me since I was 10, beauty did not matter then."
Okay, Elle, come clean! What utopia did you grow up in where beauty didn't matter to 10-year-olds? Because where we grew up, children were incredibly cruel to anything outside of the norm -- just ask anybody who was chubby, or had big ears, a misshapen nose, or well, pretty much anything different.
It's no surprise that Elle doesn't really understand the pitfalls of children who are bullied for being ugly. Here she is, performing "So Fly" live. Behold, world! This is Elle Varner, with her flat chest and enormous waist, on stage with her chunky thighs and non-hazel eyes, for all the world to see! Brace yourselves!
Okay, okay, we get it. The pressures put on all women to live up to an unreachable, unrealistic norm are so intense that even the most beautiful females on earth are needlessly insecure about their appearance. Surely that's where this song is going. Right?
Well, not really, no. Instead, she kind of whines some more about how ugly and fat she is, then gets to this part:
"So basically all that I need is to be everything but me,
Colored contacts, liposuction and breast implants,"
Oh, god, woman, get to the point already! ... Oh. Okay. Here it is:
"Somehow that don't make much sense, I must be out of my head,
If I think that I am governed by material things,
So I decided I'm the definition of fly and if you want to know why,
I know what money can't buy."
Wait, what? Why is this about money and material stuff now? We thought we were talking about small boobs and big bellies and fat thighs. We thought this was about female insecurity about physical attributes deemed wrong by corners of the media, the fashion industry and advertising campaigns that like to lie to us to make a ton of money.
No. Elle Varner's final, earth-shattering point is:
"Don't go believing the hype, there's no runway in the sky,
And no way you could be fly, not if it costs you a dime."
Here's what we think Elle Varner is trying to say: (a) true beauty lies on the inside, and (b) cosmetic surgery is a waste of money.
Here's what Elle Varner is actually saying in this song: (a) if you don't physically measure up to the unrealistic expectations of the world, it's okay because one day you'll be dead and in the sky with Jesus, and (b) don't get cosmetic surgery because it costs a lot of money.
At its core, "So Fly" is a totally vapid song dressed up as a meaningful one. It's a long lingering look at female insecurities that never calls out the causes of them. It's a song that tells us not to bother getting cosmetic surgery -- but only because when we're dead, whether we were pretty or not won't matter anymore. It's a song that reinforces the stereotype that all non-model women hate themselves.
And what's worst of all is that "So Fly" dresses itself up as empowered on some level, but will, in actual fact, just make a legion of young women question their own physical attributes. To boot, it repeatedly makes the point that dudes don't dig fat girls, so, sorry larger ladies, you are shit out of luck. If you stay fat, you'll be alone forever (because only your family and childhood friends can see your inner beauty), and if you get liposuction, you're a bad person for wasting all that money. Have fun with that!
So, Elle Varner, congratulations. You made us stop. You made us listen. But then you just made us angry. We suggest that next time you try and write an anthem about female empowerment, you don't resort to ugly stereotypes, a crazy amount of self-referential whining, and overly simplistic conclusions that are largely irrelevant to the subject matter. Now that would be fly.
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