A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that "Try" is a mellow pop ballad from singer Colbie Caillat off her 2014 EP Gypsy Heart. The song addresses the concept of natural beauty, encouraging listeners to leave social pressures behind and "just get up" in the morning without changing "a single thing," because the only opinion that truly matters when we look in the mirror is our own. The accompanying music video shows Caillat, along with several other women and girls, removing their makeup and going all-natural to confidently display their own untouched beauty. The video's release generated significant online buzz, as individuals and news outlets lauded Caillat for bringing unrealistic beauty norms into the spotlight. The song refers briefly to the materialistic and sexual pressures inherent in our culture, and the way the lyrics are structured might leave younger listeners confused about Caillat's perspective if they are unable to differentiate when she is echoing the critical voice of society and when she is speaking her own positive and empowering views. Lines such as "Put your makeup on / Get your nails done / Curl your hair" could end up sounding like direct commands rather than a multilayered critique.
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What's the story?
TRY confronts the pressures that many women and girls face when it comes to feeling beautiful, and Caillat identifies a variety of issues that tie into the general theme of fitting into a standardized definition of beauty. She references the "need" to be skinny with the lines, "Run that extra mile / Keep it slim so they like you," and speaks to sex appeal and consumerism as ways to achieve desired appearances. Though she spends a fair amount of time echoing the negative voices that impose these pressures, the song reaches a turning point and stresses its most important message with the lines, "Wait a second / Why should you care what they think of you? / When you're all alone, by yourself, do you like you?" Here, Caillat drives home the essence of what she attempts to impart with this song -- yes, "Take your makeup off / Let your hair down," but don't forget that ultimate beauty, however you choose to define it, stems from within.
Is it any good?
On "Try," Caillat exhibits the soft and rather soothing quality of her voice, creating a low-key pop song that, similar to so many of her others, falls easily on the ears. The track follows a standard pop song structure with its repeating verse and chorus, and listeners may find that the refrain of "You don't have to try, try, try" gets a little old by the end of the tune. There's nothing musically groundbreaking here, but the song's strength is undoubtedly in its powerful message. For those who have experienced the pressure of trying to fit into a singular definition of beauty, both the track and the video will offer a refreshing outlook on self-worth and can inspire young listeners to stand tall and look in the mirror with confidence.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about societal pressures around beauty. How are they different for men and women? How do you think a society's idea of what is beautiful gets constructed? Do you think there is a universal definition of beauty, or does it differ across cultures?
Families also can discuss what they think of the raw beauty movement. Do you see it taking hold? If not, what would have to happen for people to truly appreciate natural beauty -- are there specific things holding society back?
Why do you think sexiness and beauty are so often linked? Can you point to a more positive definition of beauty that you like better?
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