I was talking to Chal a few nights ago about writing my latest Global Comment article, and we strayed fairly close to a full on argument about Ellie Goulding. It wasn’t because I characterised her negatively, or because I compared her lifeless and emotionless presence to that of a bad porn actress. It was because I thought the sentiment of her song ‘The Writer’ managed to be one of the most hateful and gut-twisting things I’d heard in a long time.
‘The Writer’ is Goudling’s anthem to someone she’ll never really approach, and goes so far as to ask of this unrequited object of affection if they’ll dictate the thoughts and words and emotions that Goulding doesn’t want anymore. She wants to be their vessel, their flapping mouth, giving voice to language crafted by someone else. My argument, such as it was, went that ‘The Writer’ was a hateful piece of pop. More than just vacuous, it suggests that surrendering individuality and agency to the will of someone else is the best course, especially for a woman, and that Goulding gets away with selling out her sex by being so totally submissive.
Chal’s argument amounted to “If that’s the way she feels…”
Chal was right, but so am I; I wouldn’t want my friends or my family – my younger sisters especially – to think well of the song, because I want them to be people and have voices of their own, even when they are in love. But ultimately I can’t control that and shouldn’t try to.
And my least favourite song is this Nouvelle Vague cover of my favourite song, because if there’s anything that says nothing so loudly as their blank expressions and that fucking backing then I’ve not yet found it. But I still can’t stop it from being played at dinner parties.