Let’s Re-Write the Worst Boy Band Lyrics so That They’re More Feminist

One Direction Feminists Feature
Posted on 11/30/2012 at 4:39 PM

Related To: Boy Band Week, News

The Popdust Files: boy bands, feminism, glad you came, humor, little things, one direction, the wanted, what makes you beautiful

We love boy bands here at Popdust, so much so that we’ve been celebrating them all week. But even we would admit that sometimes our favorite boy bands do not always offer up the most progressive views of gender relations.That’s not a huge crime, all things considered, but things could definitely be better.

In the interest of making the world a safer place for feminism (and let’s be honest, also for the lulz) we’ve decided to try our hand at re-writing the most boorish, chauvinist or just plain clueless boy-band lyrics. It’s the first step toward bringing the genre into the 21st century!


On the surface, One Direction’s first hit is an innocent puppy-love song directed a girl who’s to shy to notice the narrator’s affections. Look beneath that, though, and you realize that not only does “What Make You Beautiful” reinforce the long-standing idea that women should be submissive and demure—if a song makes just as much sense when you substitute the word “beautiful” for “dutiful,” you know it’s pretty retrograde—but that it also argues that female confidence is inherently unattractive: “You don’t know you’re beautiful / That’s what makes you beautiful.” Instead, maybe the song should go something like this:

I know you can see what we all can see
You understand why I think of you so highly
Right now I look at the things you do and the impression you give
That you know
Yes, you know you’re beautiful
Yes, you know you’re beautiful
That’s what makes you beautiful—inside and out


The Wanted’s breakout hit is a classic club banger, but read the lyrics out loud and suddenly the track transforms into a classic Pick-Up Artist field report. In this song, women are targets to be acquired, who exist mostly to be plied with liquor, negged (the line “Hand you another drink, drink it if you can” does both at once!) and then dragged away where no one can see. Here’s a much more healthy night out:

You cast a spell on me, spell on me
You hit me like the sky fell on me, fell on me
And I decided to see if you wanted to do something consensually
So let’s go somewhere no one else can see, unless that makes you feel uncomfortably

Turn the lights out now
Now we’ll take each other’s hands
If you want, I’ll buy us both a drink
But getting you drunk is not the plan
Can you spend a little time,
Time is slipping away,
Away from us so stay,
If you want, I can make,
Make you glad you came, but I promise to not put an outsized amount of pressure on you


We’ve covered the disingenuous chivalry of “Little Things” before, but it’s always worth reminding yourself again how bad the lyrics really are, a litany of physical flaws brought up so One Direction can prove their saintliness by forgiving them. What would a song that was as actually good-hearted as “Little Things” thinks it is, sound like? Maybe something like this:

I know you’ve never loved the sound of your voice on tape
And it’s bullshit that people tell you it matters how much you weigh
You still have to squeeze into your jeans
But so does everyone—those clothes are made for models whose figures do not match that of the general population

You love yourself, and that’s what I love about you
And I want to treat you right, darling, because you deserve me to
If I let you know, I’m here for you
Maybe we can have a close, emotionally supportive relationship, just us two

What do you think of our handiwork? Any bold venture capitalist want to help us record Now That’s What I Call Feminism: Vol. I? It’ll be the biggest smash hit of 2013, we promise!

More Boy Band Week!

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Gird yourself for our “I Want It That Way” lyrics breakdown!

Read eight writers gush about their first boy band crushes!

Meet the animal doppelgangers of One Direction!

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