(Suggestion: Stay away)
Fergie isn’t just flying free from the shackles of oppression that the Black Eyed Peas held her back with. She’s also smashing the societal expectations of Motherhood. Her new Trap single M.I.L.F $ is changing a word that’s stigmatised a lot of people, turning the rather lewd acronym into an equally lame one… ‘Moms I’d Like to Follow’. I admire the place this is coming from and I think music is a powerful medium to express such sentiments as controversial imagery has been fuelling popular music for too long. Though I’m convinced that Fergie’s goals here weren’t met in the way people are saying they are. Because what Fergie is saying the song is about and what it really feels about doesn’t line up.
Got MILF is a pretty smart way to reboot a solo career after lingering in a group for the better part of ten years. I don’t think I could ask anyone I know to describe ‘Fergie’s sound’. That’s the sort loss of identity you have when you work in a group for as long as she has. I suppose too there are parallels that suggest it’s the same sort of loss of identity that can happen when you become a mother. Something she recently became herself. Fergie said ‘that Society tries to tell moms what they should and shouldn’t be’. Though, I think what her music video suggests is that as long as you’re conventionally attractive and are willing to wear nothing but lingerie, pour milk over yourself in leathery outfits, have a super skinny waist, flawless skin, no fat left over from pregnancy, no stretch marks and no scars from a possible C-section or… Well the list just kind of goes on. The point is that she’s drawing pretty strict lines here about what a mum that should feel empowered and sexy should look like.
Do you see how her message seems kind of incongruous with the rest of the song? How she wants to laud and celebrate Mum’s and their chance to get theirs and feel good by reserving that right to those who society already deems attractive and deserving? It feels kind of like having your cake and eating it. Decrying the sexualisation of women and then reviling in the imagery for the sake of your music video.
Now I’m not one to suggest Fergie’s cause isn’t legitimate and I’m certainly not the first to criticise her… But, you have to think about the fact she’s an artist who hasn’t performed solo for a long time and needs something to grab a bit of attention. Because let’s be honest here, M.I.L.F $, with its flat generic sound and boring explicit ‘can you believe it‘ lyrics isn’t exactly the reason anyone came.
Controversial music videos have become very popular. I don’t think the fact that YouTube views count towards the billboard’s chart is pressed hard enough into our collective consciousness. We saw the outcome of this in Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines in 2013. It was so edgy it made over 11,000,000 hits and I’d argue a lot of that was to do with its racy music video. Though fortunately that song got a lot of backlash, and I’d like to think MILF is a step forward, for the marketers at least. They learned that they can spin the video that glorifies the imagery it’s criticizing by claiming it’s some sort of progressive move by the artist against it. Then, groups will defend it as doing just that when in reality, well… They got played by a marketing bit. You went away and talked about it and generated traffic for her video, her name, and her Fergalicious brand.
That’s why Fergie filled the video with powerful female role models like Kim Kardashian. A woman made famous for a sex-tape and successfully cultivating an entire career out of her buttocks. Props to Kim regardless I mean if only I could do the same I wouldn’t be spending my time writing about Fergie videos.
I guess the real crying shame here is that Fergie bet on the wrong horse. I’m not here talking about an amazing song with a hell of a beat and catchy chorus. No I’m here ranting to you about some crusade. She sold out her chance to really explore something creative and great for some weird 2edgy4u ploy and I just don’t think it’s worked out for anybody. I want to be here talking about a great song, but Fergie either isn’t capable of writing one or she doesn’t have enough faith that her song alone would be worthwhile.
I think I’d much rather M.I.L.F stood for Music I’d Like to Forget.