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Top 40 Philosophy: Fifth Harmony, “Worth It”

Posted in Top 40 Philosophy

“Worth It,” by Fifth Harmony (ft. Kid Ink) is currently at #14 on Billboard’s Hot 100, and moving up (and has made it to #5 on the Billboard’s version of the Top 40). It’s the third saxophone revival song I’m considering in this series, and its video is as SFW as any videos from the dance/pop genre get nowadays. (Pay attention to the “ticker” in the background of many of the shots.)

The saxophone riff on the choruses is what makes this song particularly catchy (as we’ve discussed before, it’s by the same guy who did the saxophone riff for “Talk Dirty,” by Jason Derulo). But the ladies’ unusual vocals on the verses also help.

I don’t think there’s anything particularly feminist about the song itself, although the video tries to portray it as if it were a celebration of feminism. One wonders, for instance, whether one could be worth it if one didn’t happen to be physically attractive (as so many of us aren’t), or might be worth it in ways other than the romantic or erotic (as so many of us are).

Then again, (while discussing “Blank Space,” by Taylor Swift) I’ve already pointed out before how suspicious the idea of something’s being “worth it” is. Do we really want to use such an economic idea when discussing human beings?  Do we really want to see our relationships in terms of financial exchanges? (“Gimme gimme I’m worth it.”)

And doesn’t the idea that something is “worth it” require us to think in quantitative ways about something qualitative? In other words, doesn’t it require us to compare the “amount” (a quantity) of value (a quality) that one thing has with the “amount” of something valuable we’d have to give up in order to get it?

I confess, however, to just being confused about the entire issue of one thing’s being “more valuable” than another. Clearly some things are more valuable than others. But how it is possible to mix quantity and quality like this is a mystery to me. It’s like mixing form and content, or structure and material (as we’ve discussed before, when talking about “I Am Machine,” by Three Days Grace). It happens, but I don’t really understand how.

The “normal” (scientific) solution is to reduce everything to quantity and form. Colors (qualities) are actually wavelengths (quantities). Sounds (content) are actually frequencies (form). But that’s monism, and the world is just too complex and diverse for monism to be right. Right?

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