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Heartbreak Was Everywhere at the Grammys & so was...

Honestly, I do think Miley legitimately wants to be alone. Excuse me, I meant; to be left alone and not objectified.

I, on the other hand, would like to be less offensive and am failing miserably.

Heartbreak Was Everywhere at the Grammys

Romantic frustration is the main theme for popular female songwriters like Miley Cyrus, but Taylor Swift’s ‘Anti-Hero’ represents something new.

By Kyle Smith, WSJ

Feb. 9, 2024

Miley Cyrus performs onstage during the 66th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, Feb. 4.

It would be hard to cite a dance song with more depressing lyrics than Miley Cyrus’s “Flowers,” which captured Record of the Year honors at the Grammys and ranked No. 2 on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 Singles chart.

Set against an irresistibly peppy beat, its lyrics make a case for finding empowerment through solitude. The narrator informs her ex-lover after their breakup that she’s doing better than ever, not because she has found someone else, or hopes to, but because she has accepted being alone. “I can buy myself flowers,” goes the refrain. “I can take myself dancing, yeah / I can hold my own hand / . . . Yeah, I can love me better than you can.”

Pop songs sung by women have been dismissed as “bubble gum” for decades. That might have been true in 1983, when Madonna sang “Holiday, celebrate!” or in 2010, when Katy Perry enticed listeners with the image: “California girls / We’re unforgettable / Daisy Dukes / Bikinis on top.” But today’s female singer-songwriters are crafting hit songs that convey despair, anger and bitterness. A generation ago, the queens of the pop charts—Sheryl Crow, Christina Aguilera, P!nk, Destiny’s Child—vowed to soak up the sun; asked us to come on over, baby; and said it was time to get this party started. The mood has darkened since.

Male singer-songwriters remain chiefly interested in what their forebears wrote about: seduction, occasionally with a soupcon of brooding alienation. Whether it’s Harry Styles (“I can see you’re lonely down there / Don’t you know that I’m right here”), Post Malone (“I can’t let go, it’s chemical”) or The Weeknd (“Baby I would die for you”), the singer is generally either putting the moves on a potential lover or trying to win one back. The English crooner Ed Sheeran has built a centimillionaire fortune out of simpering flattery: “I don’t deserve this / Darling you look perfect tonight,” “Well, me, I fall in love with you every single day,” or “I’m in love with the shape of you.”

Among female pop stars, though, raging or despairing about bad breakups is the core of today’s biggest songs. If what’s on the radio reflects what’s in the hearts of music fans, young men are fairly blithe about romance, but young women are suffering. The No. 3 song on the Billboard chart, SZA’s “Kill Bill,” which was nominated for Song of the Year and Record of the Year, is musically soothing. Its lyrics, though, are murderous: “I just killed my ex / . . . Killed his girlfriend next / . . . Rather be in hell than alone.”

In “Vampire” (No. 30), 20-year-old Olivia Rodrigo tells her ex: “You made me look so naive / The way you sold me for parts / As you sunk your teeth into me.” Even midrelationship the women sound worried. English singer PinkPantheress, in her song with Ice Spice, “Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2” (No. 20), sings “Every time I pull my hair, well, it’s only out of fear / That you’ll find me ugly and one day you’ll disappear.”

The thought leader to whom all of these women must bow is the stratospherically successful Taylor Swift, who is hinting at a new direction: accepting agency.

Though Ms. Swift on Sunday became the first person to win the Grammy for Album of the Year a fourth time, she is still sometimes dismissed as sonic bubble gum by those who aren’t paying attention. She anticipated and helped create the current trend by writing corrosively about her former boyfriends, notably in her 10-minute ballad, “All Too Well,” which fans believe is a detailed recounting of her brief romance with actor Jake Gyllenhaal, and “Is It Over Now?,” an outtake from her 2014 album, “1989,” that was released last year and that observers believe contains unmistakable references to her past relationship with Mr. Styles.

She comes off as the aggrieved victim in many of her songs but disarmingly begins “Anti-Hero” (No. 4 and a Grammy nominee for Record and Song of the Year) by noting, “I have this thing where I get older but never wiser” and compares herself to “a monster on the hill” before acknowledging the one common denominator in all of her broken relationships. The song’s refreshingly frank refrain: “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me.” In the video, which she wrote and directed, she first appears to be the heroine in a slasher movie, but then opens the door to discover something frightening: herself.

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