Hi, friends! This week we’re looking at a rather interesting song (to say the least). It plays with gender stereotypes and definitely pushes the envelope on political correctness. Pop/rock/alternative band Weezer has never been known for being especially conventional and that’s what makes them so unique. I will be examining one of their biggest hits in years, “Thank God for Girls,” which comes off of their 2016 album Weezer (White Album).
If you’ve heard the song before, then you may know why it’s been controversial. During this explanation, though, I will be giving Weezer the benefit of the doubt in that they are not totally bashing females. I say this because I saw them in concert over the summer, and throughout this entire song they had a slideshow playing with pictures of historically strong female icons: Joan of Arc, Mother Mary, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Emma Watson, Brienne of Tarth (fictional but awesome), Oprah, Ellen, and Beyoncé, just to name a few. Weezer then ended the song with a projection of the rainbow flag, which is a symbol for LGBT equality. So while the band may poke fun at stereotypes in the song, I think it’s used in an ironic sense.
“Thank God for Girls”
“The girl in the pastry shop with the net in her hair
Is making a cannoli for you to take on your hiking trip
In the woods with your bros that you’ve known since second grade
And you may encounter dragons or ruffians and be called upon
To employ your testosterone
In a battle for supremacy and access to females glued to the TV
And even if you are victorious you may receive many cuts, bruises, and scrapes
And you will require band aids and antiseptic ointments
And tender loving kisses on your stab wounds and when you come home
She will be there waiting for you with a fire in her eyes
And a big fat cannoli to shove in your mouth
And that’s why you”
We’re starting off with the depiction of a girl — most likely a teenager — making a treat for the main character and his buddies for when they go hiking. We’re immediately greeted with stereotypical pairings of woman/kitchen and man/outdoors. The “bros” are going to have to exercise their manpower while adventuring. Here, Weezer’s nerdy singer/songwriter Rivers Cuomo inserts a Dungeons and Dragons reference and symbolically references a “battle of supremacy” through testosterone. This references the concept of “survival of the fittest” to see who’s the toughest, and therefore the best, alluding to historical methods of deeming the “manliest man.”
Of course, the supremacy among the other men means that said victor has first dibs on the female of choice. But even the victor gets a little banged up, so who does he turn to for love and care? The female. So she’s waiting at home (of course, because women can’t possibly be doing anything but waiting for their men to return from war while they idly sit by) and ready to have sex, hence the fire in her eyes and the phallic-like dessert represented by the “cannoli.”
“Thank God for girls
Holla Jesu Christe
From Tennessee to LA
Thank God for girls
On your reckoning day
You better bow down and pray”
Cuomo acknowledges that the title of the song seems a bit mainstream but that he knew he could “pull all kinds of weirdness out of it.” And that’s how the chorus starts off. Apparently, it references the song, “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” a 1957 song that appears in the musical Gigi.
The next line is pretty fun as it plays into the religious theme from the title. “Jesu Christe” is just Latin for Jesus Christ and Cuomo adds his own corny slang to the exclamation making it fun and modern as if talking to God like a friend.
Cuomo thanks God for all girls around the globe, and continues with the religious themes by referencing the “reckoning day,” which is another phrase for the judgment day in which the men better pray and thank God some more.
“She’s so big
She’s so strong
She’s so energetic in her sweaty overalls
Thank God for girls
Thank God for girls
Thank God for girls”
Who knows what’s going on in this post-chorus. All I can assume is that perhaps Cuomo’s shoving some of the qualities women expect men to have on females, simply to flip the gender stereotypes.
“I’m so glad I got a girl to think of even though she isn’t mine
I think about her all the day and all the night it’s enough to know that she’s alive
She says I give her sweaty palms she almost had a heart attack
The truth is that I’m just as scared I don’t know how to act
I wish that I could get to know her better
But meeting up in real life would cause the illusion to shatter
I carved her name into all the trees
Sang a song down on one knee
Looking at the underwear page of the Sears catalog like when I was 14
I’m levitating like a magnet turned the wrong way around
I’m like an Indian Fakir tryna’ meditate on a bed of nails with my pants pulled down”
Basically the first few lines here are all about romanticizing relationships, and whether you’re a boy or a girl, we’ve all done this to some degree. These lines really keep up with the nerdy themes presented in the beginning. Perhaps this main character is thinking about that girl in the pastry shop, but he’s too awkward (or considers himself to be) to go up and talk to her so he’d much rather just sit and think about her. And that seems to be enough.
Cuomo claims the lines about a heart-attack come from a time he accidentally video-called a girl he was talking to and it scared both of them. Apparently there’s not much of a deeper meaning here; however, one can look at the heart-attack as a cliché, but I think Cuomo meant just what he said. I think he’s also alluding to the idea of virtual dating and how people get to know each other only through instant messaging and texting but are too scared to even video chat and see each other. This plays into the line where Cuomo is wishing he could get to know this girl better, but if they met in real life, it would destroy this illusion they’ve both built up in their heads of each other. Cuomo claims this is a classic critique of Tinder.
I love how Cuomo so cleverly navigates through every cliché we associate with love: carving someone’s name in a tree, serenading her, and even shopping for underwear. This is a really fun way to make these over-used ideas work for him; he’s even laughing at them.
Then we get to a rather awkward part of the song. Cuomo compares himself and the girl he likes to magnets, claiming that they’re polar opposites. Now I will try to make this part of my review as tactful as possible. So an “Indian Fakir” is a Muslim of a Sufi who’s taken a vow of poverty (again, we’re flirting with religion here) and can also be falsely used in reference to yogis, Hindus, Buddhists, and gurus. The thing with this part of the song is that these people also value celibacy, so meditation is used to combat these earthly temptations. Most likely, the reason Cuomo is talking about a boy alone meditating with his pants pulled down is because, well…he’s trying to be good but he’s lonely and…you can fill in the rest.
“God took a rib from Adam, ground it up in a centrifuge machine
Mixed it with cardamom and cloves, microwaved it on the popcorn setting
While Adam was like “that really hurts”
Going off into the tundra, so pissed at God
And he started lighting minor forest fires, stealing osprey eggs
Messing with the bees who were trying to pollinate the echinacea
Until God said, “Ima smite you with loneliness
And break your heart in two”
And Adam wept and wailed, tearing out his hair, falling on his knees
Looked to the sky and said
This is my favorite section of the song, I actually laughed out loud when I first heard it because I thought it was so quirky and downright hilarious. So this whole bridge is like a poorly re-written Genesis. Genesis talks about the creation of the world, so this is a goofy substitute for how God decided to create women. The only accurate part is that God did indeed, according to scripture, take a rib from Adam in order to create Eve.
I couldn’t find any symbolic explanation as to why cardamom and cloves are mentioned, but cloves smell good so perhaps that’s why. The humor is evident here when Cuomo talks about using a microwave on the popcorn setting. Going off into the tundra symbolizes the bare world outside of the Garden of Eden. And we get some fun imagery of an angry Adam who’s disrupting the flow of nature because his rib was just stolen. But if you pay close enough attention, Cuomo mentions the birds (osprey) and the bees, alluding to sex. And we conclude with one last stereotype, with the idea that women always break the man’s heart and make them lonely. And then ironically, Adam yells, “Thank God.”
Overall, it’s a goofy song. It plays with stereotypes but I really don’t think the band means any harm. If anything, they’re just trying to bring attention to the issues between the two. And I think it’s fun.
— Haley Renison, Asst. Managing Editor