I am a serious sucker for Alternative/ Indie Rock, so when I heard that one of what I call my “Chill Time Jams” go-to artists had just released an awfully powerful video single from her upcoming album, Gypsy Heart. I could not help but rush to see exactly what was revolutionising in the world of Colbie Calliat.
Now let me share this, as an idealist, working towards being more of a super optimistic realist, I like to think that most of the times, I am drawn to music and to artists who are very much politically, socially and culturally conscious (not sure if that’s always true). Thus, as a long time avid listener-consumer of Colbie Calliat’s music, when I saw the video of the new hit single “Try,” I wasn’t so much surprised as I was filled with pride and with a sense of hope that this young woman (she’s only 29) is paying attention to the pressures faced by all kinds of women, everywhere in the world, and that she has been able to masterfully and beautifully convey that through her art.
Colbie Caillat Try
For an artist who felt the pressure to be “someone she wasn’t, musically and visually,” after her record label rejected an album she delivered last year requesting she find a new sound and image, this song is about finding a comfortable space for yourself in which you can the best of who you are, and in which you can authentically give back to your world. It is a song about defying the standards that a record label has for you as an artist, about defying the socially constructed notions of gender performance, of what it means to be a woman or a man, it is about stripping off the façade, saying screw it, accept me for who I am, or let me be.
Even though some are hailing “Try” the new anthem of women’s empowerment– as “a song to get the ladies to feel empowered and to take off your makeup”– I like to think of “Try” as a song encompassing many profound layers of which we can use to continue our activist work in redefining the perception of women in society, in changing unrealistic beauty standards of which we are expected to abide and a song which can deliver a message in how we approach the issue of masculinity, of who men are taught and are expected to be and how that affects overall gender dynamics. I like to think of it as a song that sings to everyone, “stop trying so much, and just be. Learn, grow change, and so on.”
This is not to say that the message of women’s empowerment behind the video is not important, it most certainly is, especially considering the messages that we receive from the entertainment industry. More and more artist need to continue making videos such as this and need to be much more open about the pressures they encounter that way we can continue to be a lot more critical about these subject matters with the hopes of stopping female body bashing, stopping the continuous photo shopping of the female body, and the fake representation of perfection that we have been accustomed to strive for.
All in all, I say well-done Colbie Calliat. Kudos to you and Babyface for such moving lyrics that are sure to continue a conversation that we haven’t even really started to have. Also, shout out to John Legend who too took on the challenge of re-conceiving unrealistic beauty notions by representing different types of bodies, faces and identities his must watch music video, You and I.
So what do you think about this video? Am I reading too deep into it? How does it make you feel to see an artist take this kind of stand?