Fifth Harmony 7/27
What is the measure of a woman's worth? Is it love? Sex? Money? Fame? On any given track on the sophomore effort from the all-female group Fifth Harmony, it could be any of those things. The result is an album that veers wildly between healthy, empowering messages and sexualizing, self-objectifying ones.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
"That's My Girl" is an empowerment anthem emphasizing the importance of women working hard, taking charge of their lives and not letting manipulative men define them. "You've been down before/You've been hurt before/You got up before/You'll be good to go, go to go/ … You know your worth." Hard work is again encouraged on "The Life": "Ever since I'm young, I'm tryna get it right/Every year I'm working toward a goal." "I Lied" longs for "real love," which the band describes as a guy who gets in touch during the day ("You got that real love/That text in the morning, that real love").
Though quite sensual elsewhere, "Squeeze" nevertheless longs for a safe, accepting relationship ("Face to face/ … This is the safest place I've ever known"). Deluxe Edition bonus track "No Way" also emphasizes unconditional love: "Everyone comes with scars, but you can love them anyway/I told you that I wasn't perfect, you told me the same/I think that's why we belong together and unashamed." "Gonna Get Better" tries to convince a guy that love, not money or material things, is what matters most in a relationship ("I won't leave you for a money man/No matter what we go through/ … But you know all that I want is you"). "Scared of Happy" finds a young woman confronting the fact that she's terrified of a healthy relationship that's actually working. "Not That Kind of Girl" demonstrates self-respect as we hear a woman tell a man in a club that she's not going to jump into bed with him "on the first date."
"Work From Home" finds a woman trying to tease her guy home from work by telling him she's wandering around "wearing na nada" and by sending him sexts. Double entendres fill the song, and guest contributor Ty Dolla $ign compares his lady to a stripper. Similarly, "All in My Head (Flex)" references stripper motifs ("Throwing bills at you") in its song-length exaltation of acrobatic sex ("Flex, time to impress/Come and climb in my bed/Don't be shy, do your thing"). "Squeeze" talks of emotional intimacy … and the physical variety, too. "Write on Me" sensually asks a lover to tattoo a woman ("Everything is blank until you draw me/Touching on my body like you know me"). "Not That Kind of Girl" implies that while sex isn't happening on the first date, a man who treats a woman right can earn that privilege fairly quickly.
"The Life" longs for luxury and inebriating indulgence ("Eating good, getting lit/Living life, feeling rich/ … Poolside, sipping on a Mai Tai/ … This is the life." "I Lied" compares love to getting high.
Profanity on several tracks includes s- and f-words (including one partially bleeped pairing of the latter with "mother"), as well as "d--n" and "a--."
Just as the five young women in Fifth Harmony skillfully blend the popular sounds of the day—pop, R&B, rap and EDM stylings swirling among them—so they also serve up a soufflé of secular society's often paradoxically mixed messages about where a woman should seek to ground her identity.
One minute that means taking charge and working hard. The next it means trying to please a man who compares her to a stripper. If only the genuinely positive messages here could be easily, completely sifted from the damaging ones. Alas, separating the uplifting themes from the demeaning ones on 7/27 is as impossible as trying to separate the five beautiful voices that comprise Fifth Harmony itself.