Previous to Bruno Mars’ song Grenade, I have been impressed with him. He is a very talented singer. Even the style of the performance wowed me. They tried to make it look, sound, and feel like a 50s-60s broadcast. He actually sang the song in the style appropriate to the era. The costumes, and hair styles matched as well. Although, I am by no means a die hard fan of the pop culture of this era, it certainly impressed me that a modern singer would actually do something outside of the ordinary.
That being said, I wanted specifically to discuss why Grenade is an awful love song, especially for one reason: Emotional Co-Dependency.
The Good: Can anything good be said about this song? I mean objectively? For a moment I thought “I would take a grenade for you” is an appealing message against so much of today’s pop music so called love songs which are egocentric and selfish. Was this loving sacrifice? Sacrifice and commitment are actually missing pieces not spoken of in today’s pop music love theme songs. This however, is something different, and I will explain below. On another note this song is about pain, and pain is actually good, but it certainly doesn’t feel good. We can be deeply affectionate for something, however, should that affection be unreciprocated, it is deeply painful. Most people, nowadays, seek a quick fix by hooking up with someone else, instead of enduring the pain necessary to move on. However, even those aspects of pain are not addressed here.
The Bad: This is not sacrificial love, this is emotional codependency. This is the common symptom of wives who endure abuse, because they want to be accepted. What if there was a song about the sacrifices needed to be there for someone, and express that love? This is not about that. Further the pain spoken of in this song is more of the wallowing deeply in rejection kind of pain. It is not the pain that comes with growing stronger, but the pain of giving up on life.
The Ugly: This was, certainly, the most morbid song (Aside from anything by Eminem). If you have heard the lyrics, you would know why. I don’t think I need say much more.
I really do think this song has appeal because of the theme of rejection. I also think that this song has deep appeal among a generation that has been conditioned by consumerism to be solely concerned with acquiring goods. We even view dating, relationships, and romance in terms of acquiring a good for one-self. Even if it is not completely a matter of sex and lust, it often times comes down to viewing ones mate as a possession to be controlled. People will expect their significant other to be completely sacrificial, and would be completely unwilling to bend themselves: Merely asking how much they are going to consume by this good (which is actually a person).
Finally, sacrifice is always moderated by our own sense of dignity. To often we believe we only have dignity and value if we are dating somebody. Apparently, Bruno Mars has no sense of self-respect or dignity if he is willing to wallow in such trash. If we have healthy self respect, the kind that wants ourselves, as much as others, to be treated right, it changes the outcomes of this song. If we had more dignity and self-respect, the love we give, the sacrifices we make, and the gift that we become is much more meaningful.