We might be the selfie generation but what’s wrong with praising your own body and soul?
Last week, Santigold performed her new single, “Can't Get Enough Of Myself”, on Jimmy Fallon. “All I wanna do is what I do well,” she sang, wearing a wry smile and a dress with a photograph of her own face, “Ain’t a gambler, but honey I’d put money on myself."
Given that the theme of consumerism is scratched into the grooves of her entire record, it wouldn’t be hard to take the whole thing with a generous pinch of salt. You don’t have to dig too deep to find sickliness in its saccharine charm, or a thick layer of irony in the line, “If I wasn’t me, I can be sure I’d wanna be.” It’s just that, in an industry that commodifies insecurity, and hangs women’s self-confidence on the approval of men, I’d rather throw that pinch of salt over my left shoulder and just enjoy the radical vanity-laced sugar rush.
We live in a world that fetishises low self-esteem, and treats self-confidence as a sure-fire sign of the decline of civilisation. “It's the selfie generation,” despaired Blur's Damon Albarn in a recent interview, as if that was, unequivocally, a Very Bad Thing. Perhaps he should read Rachel Syme’s beautiful manifesto on the revolutionary potential of the selfie, in which she describes how people, particularly women, are trained to “never let their self-regard come off as a threat.”
That’s why songs like “Can't Get Enough Of Myself” are such joyous breaths of fresh air. Because sometimes, in the words – irony-smothered though they are – of Santigold, “vainglory is much better for your health.” Here’s five unapologetic odes to self-confidence.
NICKI MINAJ FEAT. BEYONCÉ – “FEELING MYSELF”
An ode to both female friendship and to self-empowerment, 'Feeling Myself' - in all its beautiful, triple-entendre glory - sees Beyoncé declaring, “Male or female, it make no difference / I stop the world / The world stop... Carry on.” Sometimes, rather than hearing patronisingly vague platitudes like, “You don't know you're beautiful”, it’s far better to hear someone high on their own brilliance. Self-assurance is infectious, after all.
PERFUME GENIUS – “QUEEN”
No-one finds strength in vulnerability quite like Mike Hadreas, and “Queen” is his crowning glory. His quivering vocals rise above shimmering organs as he demands, “Don’t you know your queen?”, surfing triumphantly atop a tidal wave of gay panic. “I sometimes see faces of blank fear when I walk by,” said Hadreas of the song. "If these fucking people want to give me some power – if they see me as some sea witch with penis tentacles that are always prodding and poking and seeking to convert the muggles – well, here she comes.” Try feeling anything other than utterly empowered as you sing, “No family’s safe when I sashay.”
CHARLI XCX – “BODY OF MY OWN”
“Light out, I'm on / Got my darkness,” sings Charli xcx on the song’s chorus, “I’m into myself, don’t need you.” It’s pretty obvious what it’s about. Other lyrics include, “I’m gonna blow my brains / I don’t need you, my touch is better”) but it’s not intended to be sultry or titillating. Instead, the lyrics are pretty blasé, and packaged within a playfully jubilant disco anthem. “If [women] are going to be sexualised,” she told the Times, “they should sexualise themselves and not let someone else do it for them.”
EZRA FURMAN – “BODY WAS MADE”
Ezra Furman’s journey to embracing his own genderqueerness hasn’t been an entirely smooth one, and there's songs on Perpetual Motion People that attest to that. However, “Body Was Made” puts those insecurities to one side for a moment, and revels in its own lack of apology. “My body was made this particular way,” he sings with a groove-laden swagger, “There’s really nothing any old patrician can say / You social police can just get out of my face.” Amen to that.
CHAIRLIFT – “CH-CHING”
“Nobody will help you 'til you go and help yourself,” sings Caroline Polachek with faux auto-tuned vocals, Spaghetti Western whistles and glitchy instrumentals underneath – more to herself than anyone else, “Take it and don’t wait for it to come from someone else.” Speaking of the song, Polachek told Genius, “As much as individualism manifests itself in really greedy and unethical ways, this was sort of about the feeling of: ‘I'm going to go out there and get myself my own, no one can help me.’”