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Top 40 Philosophy: Alexandra Stan, “Mr. Saxobeat”

Posted in Top 40 Philosophy

This song is as far back as I’ve been able to trace the recent saxophone revival. Alexandra Stan’s “Mr. Saxobeat” came out in 2011 and reached #21 on the Billboard Hot 100. I’d really like to know what happens after the video ends.

We call this “Alexandra Stan’s song,” but — as with most pop songs — it was actually written by two guys, neither of whom are Ms. Stan. Thus, I’m very suspicious of the idea that Ms. Stan really needs a “sexy boy” to “set

[her] free.” The idea that each of us needs a savior-lover, however, goes back a long way, and was more famously expressed by Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle” (which, unsurprisingly, had two guys involved in its writing).

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Many pop songs are lyrically-incoherent. Take “Don’t Let Me Get Me,” for example, in which Pink refuses to try to be like Britney Spears because “that just ain’t [her]” . . . in the middle of a song whose main theme is that she “want[s] to be somebody else.”

“Mr. Saxobeat” is similarly self-contradictory, with Stan supposedly reveling in the fact that Mr. Saxobeat “makes” her do/be a number of things, including “mov[ing] like a freak” — I’d suggest staying far away from Mr. Saxobeat, if possible — while also expecting his continued and increased involvement with her to “set [her] free.” This makes me wonder how similar Mr. Saxobeat is to Mr. Brownstone and Dr. Feelgood.

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My skepticism regarding whether the men who write pop songs for women to sing actually understand how women see men aside (that was the most complicated clause I’ve ever written), there is an interesting philosophical question here regarding need, freedom, and desire.

Theologians have traditionally argued that for God to be God — to be the greatest conceivable being — God must have no needs. To need something is, in some way, to be bound by it, to be under its power, and thus not to be free.

Humans, unlike God, need things in order to have any power at all. We need food in order to have the energy to act. We need sunlight and sleep for our brains to function properly. We need other humans in order to have the conversations and inspirations that lead to creativity.

What humans need they also tend to desire, but we also tend to have desires for things we don’t need. Desire and need are not coextensive for us. The question is whether they would be for God. Can God want things without needing them? If not, then it would seem that God cannot want anything since God cannot need anything.

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But if you cannot make sense of a God who doesn’t want anything, you might be tempted to revisit your assumption that God doesn’t need anything. And that might cause you to question the idea that needing something is an “imperfection” that the greatest conceivable being would have to lack.

I, personally, think God wants things (or at least that the phrase “God wants things” is true enough, given the caveat that human language has a hard time fully expressing what God is) but doesn’t need things. But very smart people have disagreed with me. They’ve been wrong, of course. But they weren’t stupid.

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