For a long time now, I've noticed the number of popular songs that undermine and individual's agency and individual strength. As the prevalence of these types of songs seems to increase, I've grown more and more uncomfortable with it.
Let's take Shawn Mendes's Treat You Better, for example. Don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for a good Shawn Mendes song. However, this particular one questions a person's ability to judge character, make decisions, and leave unwanted relationships. Take the lyrics, "I won't lie to you, I know he's just not right for you. And you can tell me if I'm off, but I see it on your face when you say that he's the one that you want." First of all, who is Shawn Mendes to decide who is or isn't right for someone? I think that decision is one someone can make on their own. Secondly, I'm not sure why a person's verbal confirmation that their current relationship is, in fact, what they want seems to not be enough for Shawn, but simply "seeing it on their face" isn't really evidence to state the claim that someone isn't happy.
Another song by Ne-Yo (who I'm also a big fan of) has relatively well-worded verses, but the chorus drives me crazy. The phrases "girl let me love you, and I will love you until you learn to love yourself" seems to suggest a few problematic concepts. While loving someone and supporting them in a time of emotional upset is really important, I think Ne-Yo's lyrics sort of suggest that he loves her because he perceives her as fragile and broken. He says he'll love her until she learns to love herself. Does that mean that he'll bounce the moment she becomes self-reliant and happy? Furthermore, his phrasing seems to perpetuate the idea that fragile women are attractive and that simply needing someone is an appealing trait in a romantic partner. It's good to allow someone in need to lean on you, but Ne-Yo seems to be encouraging a really dependent dynamic between him and his love interest, and that doesn't sound so appealing to me as a listener.
I guess all I really want is for romantic and supportive to be exactly that. I don't want songs to question the agency of the individual being addressed. An individual's sense of what is right for them shouldn't be doubted due to jealousy or anything else, and a person shouldn't just be loved because they're depressed or until they get better. Sure, there are plenty of really great songs out there about healthy and supportive love, but I hope the prominence of those that support the opposite decreases with the progression of our society.