Alicia, Beyoncé and Katy rise up
SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil (The Philippine Star) - July 1, 2020 - 12:00am

Just like many parts of the world, the U.S. of A. today is in the midst of a Coronavirus pandemic of unimaginable proportion. It is also ineptly struggling to cope with the unrest and outrage brought about by systemic racism.

The latter is what prompted the 15-time Grammy-winning pop star Alicia Keys to compose the soul ballad Perfect Way to Die. The single has been released and is the first one out of her forthcoming album ALICIA.

The pop star says, “Of course, there is no perfect way to die. This phrase doesn’t even make sense but that’s what makes the title so powerful and heartbreaking because so many have died unjustly. It’s written from the point of view of the mother whose child has been murdered because of the system of racism that looks at Black Life as unworthy. We all know none of these innocent lives should have been taken due to the culture of police violence.”

And so, she sings. “Simple walk to the corner store/ Mama never thought she would be getting a call from the coroner/ said her son’s been gunned down, been gunned down/ can you come now/ Tears in her eyes/ Can you calm down/ Please Ma’am can you calm down.”

Alicia minces no words. Every cliché rationalization about the deaths of young black people is in the song set in a beautiful melody. So evocative of pain, those have now become a powerful statement against racial injustice. Sure those who perished will remain forever young but they also never fulfilled their dreams.

Beyoncé has never been wary about using her platform if it will help bring about racial equality. She calls out public officials if she thinks they had been remiss in their duties. She constantly calls out fans and followers to join the demand for justice. And best of all, she makes effective use of her music to keep reminding everybody that Black Lives do Matter.

Beyoncé’s latest is the single Black Parade. It is about black people, their history and culture and their experience in America. It is not a pleasant one and Mrs. Jay-Z is very mad about it. “Being black maybe, they always mad/ they always big mad and they always have been. Fuck these hard edges/ I’ma let it shrivel up/ fuck these fade and waves/ I’ma let it dread all up.”

Rapped to a marching beat, Black Parade faces the unexplainable crime of being black that her race has endured for ages. While Alicia took on the pain, Beyoncé turned her song into a celebratory tribute to blackness. Majestically and with her usual fantastic vocals, she gets into the chorus with “Put your fists up in the air/ show black love/ Motherland drip on me/ Motherland, motherland drip on me.” Black Parade is about pride and Motherland has filled Beyoncé with it.

It is just like Katy Perry to enter the scene in a sunshiny mood surrounded by lots of daisies. The new single from the lovely mother-to-be is the first out of her upcoming album. It is titled what else but Daisies, and it is a glowing respite from the darkness that has become as prevalent as the COVID-19 pandemic in America.

Daisies has Perry’s trademark pop sound so loved by her young followers.  With her perky vocals and a chorus that merrily goes on and on, it is sure to be another one of her big hits. But this does not mean that Perry is insensitive about what is happening around her. In fact, she chides her listeners, “When did we all stop believing in magic? When did we put all our hopes in a box in the attic?”

I think Perry chose the daisy to symbolize the strength and resilience of the human race. Daisies are pretty but are no fragile hothouse blooms. These flowers can weather a lot and still remain standing. And that is how she says we should be.

“I’m the long shot/ I’m the Hail Mary/ Why can’t it be me? They told me I was out there/ tried to knock me down/ I took those sticks and stones/ showed them I could build a house/ they tell me that I’m crazy/ but I’ll never let them change me/ till they cover me in daisies.”

Don’t you just like the way Perry puts it, just like the daisies, we will survive.

ALICIA
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