Paramore, “Misery Business”
I truly hope the story Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams tells in “Misery Business” was derived from a personal experience. The boy she’s in love with just broke up with the school slut, and she lets him know she’s still interested — if they do things her way. Um, that other hussy is going down! “She’s got it out for me/But I wear the biggest smile,” says Hayley. Then: “Whoa, it was never my intention to brag/To steal him all away from you now/But God, does it feel so good/Cause I got him where I want him right now.” Snip and snap. Why is “Misery Business” so emotionally satisfying? Because even though the guy seems sort of gross and questionable, the wallflower who keeps her confidence in her pocket has won him on her own terms. Yes, she may have made a huge mistake. It doesn’t matter. In the teenage soap opera that extends into adulthood, this is the girl I root for.

M.I.A., “Boyz”
The music video for “Boyz” is a fantastic spectacle for reasons very similar to those that made the Spice Girls reunion tour so much fun: there’s a huge crew of male back-up dancers jonesing for their on-camera time with the lady of the moment, Miss M.I.A. In her too-cool-for-words-so-don’t-even-bother-trying-it-at-home massive gold chain and street-wear jumpsuit, she prances around with the infectious, powerful grace of a woman in control. “How many boyz there?” is her main inquiry regarding the party she’s about to hit. “Boyz” is necessary prior to a weekend evening outing that involves shaking one’s hips in dimly lit venues, where good-looking males are present. Other useful occasions for high-volume listening sessions: during the selection process for proper festive attire, and when I want to feel like an all-around hot shit. Points if you learn how to do the “duppa bounce.”

Natasha Bedingfield, “Unwritten”
When Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” begins playing in any form of media, whether it’s a Pantene commercial, a rerun of The Hills, or, scarily, the radio, I drop everything and sing. My Pavlovian response to “Unwritten” has shocked people, but Natasha insists it’s all right. “Release your inhibitions,” she urges, folding her silly sun-and-rain references into a larger metaphor: life is a book, and you can write your story any way you please. Of course it’s string cheese — and of course the gospel choir that chimes in halfway is even more so. In between my regularly scheduled self-deprecation sessions and an ever-looming dark cloud of insecurity, however, I try to remind myself that “the rest is still unwritten,” and that life isn’t one nasty, negative hyperbole against me. The fuck-ups can’t be avoided. But there are, perhaps, mysterious victories ahead.

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