Opinion

Guys/Girls, We Seriously Need To Talk About That James Reid Song “On Top”

Cza / November 26, 2017

Every morning, while driving to the office, Jared and I have a habit of turning up the radio and tuning in to Monster Radio. (Now, Monster Radio is a popular youth channel, and it’s basically what hip young folks listen to.)

Girls (and possibly guys too), I know you’re drooling all over James Reid. He’s got the looks, and he and Nadine are the “it” couple (why hello there, JaDine fans). I really can’t speak for how he is on TV; I can only assume that he’s a decent actor judging by the size and grandeur of ABS-CBN’s efforts to promote him since 2015-ish (and I know this because I interned in ABS-CBN Publishing in the same year — even back then there were books being published about him). Based on what he’s been showing the general public lately, it also looks like he can carry a tune or two.

Apparently, James just dropped a new album of his very own. Scout.PH gives five reasons why they love it: “A+ visuals and design,” “Catchy AF beats,” “Great collaborative efforts from James’ fellow artists,” “All that material on #JaDine,” and “It’s a showcase of James’ artistry and breaking out of the norm.”

Wow, James Reid has an album of his own.

Good for him, right? Good for him. He’s got a shiny career — that’s good, because it translates to a considerably-sized money bulge in his pocket.

But now I want to talk about a different type of bulge that he can’t seem to keep in his pants — at least, based on what he sings in his new single, “On Top.”

I kid you not, the song gets so much radio play — we hear it at least three times during a single drive. An inevitable consequence of that is knowing the song so well that by the time you’ve reached your destination you can actually sing it regardless of whether you intended to learn the song. And sometimes you even start randomly hearing the melody in your head, playing over… and over… and over…

One Music PH claims that “you’re about to love James Reid a little more after hearing this song.”

Whoever composed this song deserves a nod for giving it a catchy melody. And for making the whole song at least seven minutes long (because people really don’t mind listening to the same lyrics over and over, right? Because heck, it’s fucking James Reid singing! *insert girlish squeals and “kilig” here* And there’s a dude rapping — no, make that two dudes rapping — and they both sound so much like an African-American rapper even though we know he’s a Filipino artist). And I just have to say, it’s awesome that they inserted a little “break” or pause in the middle of the song, because just when you think it’s all over, the rap solo begins, and then you’re relieved to hear the chorus play again for the tenth time.

Finally, the song needs to sound like it was recorded in the States (we thought so ourselves before we found out who the artist actually was), so the rap solo needs to include an R-18, no, X-rated mention of sex. Because there can’t be enough sex in 21st century music, right? You don’t sing about sex, that’s not music. It’s the new standard — you need to sing about removing expensive clothing and dropping it on the ground. (Oh hi there, Bruno Mars.) And of course, sex sells.

You rappers make me sick
Oh my god, I said it
I swear that she can get it
Any time I’m ready
You can tell by my teeth, I got money
Throw in the air, make it rain when it’s sunny
Girl, you gon’ hop on that dick like a bunny
Screaming like a Kanye track (uh huh honey)
KINGWAW spread the lesson
Your girlfriend cheatin’ that’s a blessin’
I swear to God you don’t need her anyway
When B walk in she gon’ leave you anyway
Karma to the women doing wrong
She gon’ hate it when she hear this type of song
Yeah yeah

“On Top” rap part, from AZ Lyrics

I’m sorry to sound so Tita (or so Nanay) about this, and sure enough, people have told me I am — but seriously kids, if this is the music our local influencers are creating, I worry about our generation, and I have absolutely no hesitations in saying WE ARE FUCKED.

We rage against rapists and get angry about sexual harassment in the streets. We say no to abuse in relationships. We furiously wave the banner of the anti-fuckboy movement, claiming that jerks and assholes have no place in society. And yet we continue patronizing material that blatantly negates the very core of our cause.

All kinds of media — from the shows we watch, to the advertisements we see, down to the music we listen to (intentionally or not) — can have a huge influence on how people think. We may not even realize that we’re being influenced at all. Some are very subtle in their influence — sometimes, they merely contribute to our reasons for believing some things are okay (when in fact they’re not).

You know what’s okay? Consent. Respecting boundaries. Not calling a woman a “tease” just because she’s on the fence about going to bed with you.

Just do one thing for me
Stop being such a tease
Go ‘n put your love on me
Go on, girl, put your love on me

Not exploiting “sexual tension” or “sexual chemistry” just because you believe or can imagine it’s there — yet she may think otherwise.

Not forcing a woman to get on top of you.

I just want you on top of me
If you just take off your clothes
I’ll be the best you’ve ever known
I just want you on top of me
I’ll show you what you’re missin’
If you go down and start kissin’

Not boasting about your skills in the bedroom and being so self-assured that you can show a girl what she’s missing (how do you even know she’s missing that).

Seriously girls. Think about it. Would you settle for a guy who’s so cocky — and yet prefers that your friends don’t find out about your tryst (so that they probably won’t have to find out how bad he actually is?

Dude, that’s not even how female culture works. It’s the other way around! If a girl liked you, she would be the first to tell her friends. There are no secrets kept from female BFF’s.

I’ve seen many reviews out there claiming that the song was written in the “context of a relationship.” I’m sorry, but speaking from the point-of-view of someone currently in a serious, long-term relationship, I really don’t believe it. Respectful guys in relationships don’t interact with their significant other like this, even when they’re just playing.

As for the rap part? Guys, seriously. Stop asking women to hop on your dick. We all know you want that. There are too many songs about that already. You guys have stated your case enough. Let’s move on to another topic now, shall we?

Besides, there are so many issues in their country that deserve much more attention than the average dude’s sex drive. Why isn’t anyone writing songs about the celebrities and boxers and sexy dancers in high government office? Why isn’t anyone singing about the traffic situation — which we blame for making us listen to that James Reid song until our ears exploded?

Oh, right, somebody is composing socially-relevant music. Shoutout to you, Gloc 9! Why aren’t your songs more popular?

I rest my case.

By the way, no offense to James Reid / JaDine fans here. If you like the song, no guilt in liking it. Go ahead and listen to it, put it in your music libraries and share it with your friends! We’re just saying that it’s scary to see messages like this being conveyed out in the open. Besides, it’s about time we deepened the discourse on popular music. A song is never “just” a song. Anything with a message, even something as simple as a song, can change people and the world.

What’s even more worrisome is what if every single song on the airwaves turns out like this? Sure, the occasional song about sex can add to the discourse, but inevitably people will react to it and seek to gauge its value, because that’s what discourse is all about. It’s up to you guys now to decide whether the song means anything or not. Or if, like most pop songs of this day and age, the hype will eventually fade, and before we know it, no one will be listening to it anymore. Think what you want, but please, really, truly think.

In a nutshell…

We aren’t fans of James Reid’s song “On Top” because we believe it:

  1. Promotes rape culture.
  2. Dehumanizes women.
  3. Has little benefit to society.

Feel free to leave your comments or thoughts. Let’s talk!

3 thoughts on “Guys/Girls, We Seriously Need To Talk About That James Reid Song “On Top”

  1. What part of the song actually promotes rape? Did the song ever directly or indirectly indicate its okay to force the girl? Did it say go on top or else… NO it does not. The song has sexual undertones and the rap part i think the dick part was bleeped out. Also the lyrics was not officially released is it? If anything it’s a sexual song, yes. To me the person was trying to woo the girl. I did not get offended by the song. In fact i like it for the beats and being catchy. It is not for everyone. Just like all the other songs out there and that’s the reason you are free to listen or not.

    1. Think about human psychology and culture, the fact that this type of behavior is looked at as OK strikes a nerve with a lot of people. Don’t think about it on the surface, like, “this is what the song says” but think “how does a culture like this affect those who belong in the generation who hear it.” What strikes me, personally, as offensive is the demeaning way that it talks about women, and I emphasise, as so forwardly like, “girl, hop on top of me” Censored or not, people know it. It’s not a matter of interest in the song, but of interest in the sense of morality that it MAY and I emphasize, MAY encourage. FYI, I’m the one who commented earlier.

  2. I pray people understand this irony:

    They censor out the word God in music. Whereas they accept this kind of smut.

    Evolution of the Philippine Music Industry (by theme or topic:
    90s (I was born here) – Catchy, humorous, innocent music usually about love, relationships and community life

    2000s – Music about commitment, loyalty, community, trust and social issues

    early 2010s – much of the same thing with a bit more hip-hop and RnB

    late 2010s – sex, violence, drugs, cheating, disloyalty, lack of commitment, materialism, encouraging infidelity, violence against women, women as objects for sexual desire, men’s insecurities, pride and arrogance.

    Where is the love… the love… the love…. 🙁

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