What Grinds My Gears: Hotline Bling
By Ashley Duong
From its treasure trove of meme-worthy moments to its infamously awkward dance, Drake’s song “Hotline Bling” has seemed to cause a frenzy amongst everyone I know and I don’t understand why.
I knew that the song had reached an audience farther than it deserved when my discussion leader for Humanities Core (of all people) decided to play a remix for us and later on, attempted to imitate the dance moves, making his infatuation rather obvious.
Everyone around me seems obsessed, but I refuse to buy into it. I get it, Hotline Bling is a catchy song, one that is easy to nod your head to. The music video, as well, is nothing short of hilarious, but those factors still don’t make it worthy of all the hype that it is getting.
First and foremost, “Hotline Bling”, is, without a doubt, one of the most awkward “raps” that I have ever heard. Not really speaking yet not really rapping, Drake performs the song in a weird monotonous voice that honestly, isn’t all that fun to listen to.
The song bores me. It’s dull, with constant repetition of lyrics that, at some point, make the song sound more like some satanic verse. There is nothing exciting or attractive about the beat or melody. It’s just Drake and his weird pseudo-rapping.
But beyond the awkwardness of the song, more than anything else, the lyrics just don’t sit well with me. Drake’s rap feeds into deeply sexist ideas of what a woman should be, as seen through the eyes of a man.
In the song, Drake criticizes his former fling for “wearin’ less and goin’ out more,” reinforcing the very toxic and overused notion that women should be judged by what and how much they wear.
The song also creates a very patronizing ideal of what a relationship between a man and a woman should exhibit. He does this mainly through speaking about how she’s “got [him] stressed out” by “going places where [she] don’t belong” as well as “hangin’ with some girls [he’s] never seen before.” He’s alluding to the idea that who his ex-girlfriend hangs out with and where she goes is still his business, even though it’s clear that their relationship is over. His lyrics suggest that she can’t handle herself without his presence or guidance.
But the patronizing effect goes beyond what is explicitly said in the lyrics. The entire song is working to note and create a divide between how this woman acted during the relationship and after it: the good girl versus the slut, but only relative to the way that Drake sees her. It’s all fine and dandy unless she’s “doing things [he] taught [her], gettin’ nasty for someone else.”
It honestly drives me nuts that people enjoy this song so much. I cringe every time it comes on the radio and I’ve never been able to force myself to sit through the entirety of the music video. And it’s not because I like to be a killjoy, but rather because by choosing to publicize songs like “Hotline Bling”, we’re engaging in negative conversation about gender stereotypes and women in general, regardless of whether we intend to or not.
Even though most people enjoy the song because they see it as harmless fun and aren’t actively attempting to encourage sexist stereotypes, still, the things that we choose to hype up have greater ramifications than we may even be aware of. What we decide to rant and rave about are reflective of our values as a society.
Ashley Duong is a first-year literary journalism major. She can be reached at email@example.com.