SIT STILL, LOOK PRETTY by Daya
Favorite Tracks: “U12,” “Got The Feeling”
The pop music industry’s commodification of the female adolescent outsider is no new endeavor. In the early 2000s, artists like Avril Lavigne blazed a trail for today’s generation of female pop stars to proliferate the jaded, wallflower, spectacle-wearing, tea-drinking stereotype amongst teenage girls. The likes of Lorde, Halsey, and Lana Del Ray presented a watered down version of their predecessors’ pop punk lyrics to millions of equally misunderstood fans around the world. These anti-pop powerhouses have passed their torch to the next not-so-rebellious rebel, Daya, starting with her first single, “Hide Away,” and more recently in the form of her first full length studio album, SIT STILL, LOOK PRETTY.
Daya capitalizes on the familiar Urban Outfitters phase of female teenagedom when “uncool” suddenly becomes its own “cool” niche, with otherness vs. coolness at the center of her lyrics. Unfortunately, pop culture has a sinister way of correlating the adolescent definition of “cool” with the amount of sex teens are having (Not convinced? Watch the movie SUPERBAD), and Daya’s album is no exception. As the album progresses past the first few songs, her advice to ditch “cool” and strive for something more “Legendary” (i.e. the second track) begins to sound a lot like slut shaming. Daya divides women rather than unifying them when she sings, “Boys seem to like the girls / Who laugh at anything / The ones who get undressed / Before the second date,” suggesting that “good” boys and girls prefer abstinence. Yikes. Is it 1950?
I gather that Daya is criticizing the society which establishes these expectations about sexual prowess from a young age rather than the girls themselves, because she doesn’t draw sharp distinctions, only sweeping generalizations. Unfortunately for Daya, and the team of Generation-Y male songwriters who impart their opinions about female adolescent sexuality on the album, feminism does not exist in a vacuum. It’s imperative to consider Daya’s young female demographic that internalizes the message that exploring sex in high school makes you the opposite of Daya’s definition of a “good” girl. The majority of SIT STILL, LOOK PRETTY has a similar effect as the Taylor Swift lyrics: “She wears short skirts / I wear T-shirts / She’s cheer captain / And I’m on the bleachers”; both artists convey that if you want to fit in with them, dressing girly is a no-go, a backwards message to be sending if you want “to empower young girls to know they can do whatever they want to do” like Daya told Fuse TV back in September.
Daya’s vague opinions about the negative correlation between sexuality and “goodness” on SIT STILL, LOOK PRETTY are disguised by admittedly catchy hooks and Disney-esque synths, perfectly exemplified with the whistling on the track “Sit Still, Look Pretty.” A multitude of pop techniques allow Daya to almost get away with her superficiality; the millennial whoop of “Hide Away,” the EDM drop of “Words,” and the entire album’s unending stream of Urban Dictionary pop culture references. I temporarily overlooked the feminist nerve that Daya struck within me to enjoy two tracks toward the end of the album, “U12” and “Got The Feeling.” Daya primarily stays in her own lane in these songs, musing about the relatable “in between” stage of a relationship in the modern Internet dating era, and the infuriatingly blurred lines between boyfriend and weekend hook up. Daya’s intention for a love greater than one that’s “stuck between a green and a red light” shines through here, and I wish she and her songwriters would have veered in this direction rather wasting time on the outdated trope that virginity is synonymous with goodness.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend