The Ideal Beauty… According To Music

by on April 15, 2015

   What, or who is beautiful? Questions that will never have a direct answer. As we all know, there is not just one idea of beauty. This ideal changes between cultures, ages and even genders; there will never be just one answer.

   The definition of beauty, much like music, can be a reflection of society and the times we live in.    

   In Hip Hop, women are known to be glorified as sexual trophies, mentally strong, or caterers to men. Of course, these are not the only roles that women play in hip hop, but they are prevalent in many songs.

More positive lyrics have come from rap superstar Drake. In his song “Best I Ever Had,” Drake explains:

“Sweat pants, hair tied, chillin’ with no make-up on
That’s when you’re the prettiest, I hope that you don’t take it wrong”

The verse is self-explanatory, but shows the simplicity of some beauty ideals according to the genre.

   But of course we have to address the opposite extreme. Nicki Minaj has some of the most explicit content on her albums, sexualizing not only herself, but also men. This, of course, is not out of the ordinary for rap content. In her song, “Super Bass”: Minaj describes her love interest:

“This one is for the boys in the polos
Entrepreneur [explicit] & the moguls”

  So what do these two set of lyrics tell us about beauty ideals reflected within the hip-hop genre? That women don’t have to be overly-sexual to be beautiful, and men don’t have to be physically appealing to be attractive.

   Similar to the above Nicki Minaj lyrics, Beyoncé’s “Ego” (2008), also praises the ideal man as one who is within a leadership position concerning his career. But unlike Minaj’s lyrics, she also describes him to be attractive, like herself:

“I’m killing you with them legs
Better yet, them thighs
Matter of fact it’s my smile, or maybe my eyes?
Boy, you’re a sight to see
Kinda something like me.”

   Other than sexualizing herself, as well as her lover of interest within a song, Beyoncé has also exposed her flaws as well in her 2006 release of song,”Flaws And All”- a soft ballad that is contrary to her recent 2013 release of song, “Flawless.”

   In her track “Flaws And All,” Beyoncé addresses her loved one with inquiries as to why he loves her when she bears so many flaws:

“I’m a host of imperfection
And you see past all that
I’m a peasant by some standards
But in your eyes I’m a queen
You see potential in all my flaws
and that’s exactly what I mean.”

   These two examples found within Beyoncé lyrics symbolize how complex R&B can be when it comes to sensuality and the idea of beauty.

   Concerning country music, consumers usually look at this genre as a more “wholesome” one. But according to an article recently published in the Washington Post, sensuality has resurfaced within the content of country music. In 2008, country music group, Lady Antebellum released, “Lookin’ For A Good Time,” a song essentially about having a one night stand. Within the first verse they make this very clear, stating:

“Girl you’re beautiful
You’re bout near perfect
But I bet somebody’s already told you that
Name your poison
Name your passion
Cause a boy like me just couldn’t help but ask
Keep on talking to me baby
I’m hanging on your every word
Keep those drinks a coming maybe
We’ll both get what we deserve.”

  As one can see, there is no tangible answer as to what is beautiful. However, through the content of the music we listen to we’re able to point out certain trends that may be a reflection of society’s view on beauty. Outward beauty being linked to sensuality, or money and status being linked to level of attraction, are just a few trends. And the music industry, just like any other business is based on supply-and-demand. So as long as we demand hyper-sexual music, more will be supplied.

Feature Image by Sabine Mondestin