Cool Girl

26 Aug

“Cool Girl” by Tove Lo sounds great.  It’s a perfectly-executed version of what the chill-but-lush “deep house” sound became after pop music borrowed it from the slightly-hip pop EDM crowd who borrowed it from the folks making stuff closer to the original deep house sound.  And I have to admit I was kind of excited when I figured out what the lyrics were about.  She’s talking positively about relationships that buck rules and refuse labels?  Hell yeah!

The more I listened, though, the more I figured out that while it seems to be about sexual liberation, it does this in such a narrow way that it isn’t really challenging any of the norms it plays with.  Right from the first lines, we’re assured that there’s nothing challenging in Tove’s conception of a “free” relationship:

You can run free, I won’t hold it against ya
You do your thing, never wanted a future

Get it?  Because a future would presumably entail labels and restrictions.  By cutting a definitive divide between “cool” girls and girls who might want a “future” with, the song couches itself in a place that doesn’t actually question monogamy – it just places Tove on the “dating around” side of the now-typical serial monogamy thing.

That being said, it speaks to a few open/poly relationship foibles that I found easy to relate to.  Everybody who’s dated multiple people at once has run into (or been) somebody who frustratingly fits the lines:

Rules you don’t like, but you’re still gonna keep ’em.
Said you were fine for whatever reason.

I also dig the generally self-knowing and shit-owning attitude she takes – the speaker isn’t “cool” for her partner(s) sake(s), but because that’s just how she is, and you can figure out what that means for yourself and take it or leave it.  That’s a good place to be.

So, between the relaxed, catchy production, the spark of rare relateability, the mildly norm-disrupting message, and the oh-so-tired subtexts that open relationships aren’t serious (“never wanted a future… let’s keep it fun”) and that sexual liberation is properly the purvue of skinny, made-up, seductive blondes (no hate on Tove for being who she is, it’d just be good to hear about sexual “freedom” from people who don’t fit the hot pop singer checklist, once in a while), there’s something to love and something to hate about this track/video.

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