Now on The Beat 94.5’s top 20 playlist, Chromeo’s song “Jealous” plays through the radio every hour for our listening enjoyment. While I have to admit I sing along on my commute to work, loving the thought of “destiny [that has] us intertwined”, I also have to criticize the messages this song pumps out.
This song is essentially about a partner, presumably a cis male like Chromeo himself, giving voice to the jealousy he feels over his girlfriend/partner when she is around “other guys”. This jealousy, however, crosses the line into possessiveness pretty quickly. The melody may be upbeat and light, but lyrically this song has a underlining tone of danger and abuse. The speaker experiences jealousy, yet is “too cool to admit it” and therefore suppresses his emotion for appearances. This resembles all to closely real-life abusers who maintain a respectable face for the public, yet possess a monstrous identity within. The line “I ain’t with it” highlights the speaker’s frustration with his girlfriend, and hints at the coming violence if she continues to speak with other men. This line is repeated repeated 42 times, placing heavy emphasis on this thought. For a four minute song, that’s quite a bit of repetition.
The song even devolves into a form of victim-blaming, where the speaker blatantly asks “is it really my fault?”, that he would like to stop fretting but that their “destiny got us intertwined”, and therefore he “can’t help but lose [his] temper”. Just another version of the “boys will be boys” mentality that excuses bad behaviour. Name the problem, blame it on the victim, and suffer no shame. While he never states any evidence of infidelity from his partner besides her talking to other men, while wearing “the jacket [he] bought” (enter possessiveness here), he stills feels justified in his strong and potentially violent reaction. By the way, there is a strong parallel between this line and the mentality of men at clubs. If a man buys a girl a drink, she should at least dance with him, or give him her number, if not put out, right? His violence is hinted at when he states that when the boys come around his partner again, he feels “like committing a crime”.
Watching the music video for “Jealous”, even more problems arise. The scene takes place in a Vegas-style chapel with Chromeo acting as official to numerous weddings. The song seems directed at not one female that could presumably be his partner, but at the brides as a collective. This moves from possessiveness to mental instability. The scenes alternate from brides and grooms saying “I do” before him, to the brides dancing privately for him in skimpy outfits that hint of wedding gowns (such as garters).
The video progresses in this style until Chromeo’s suppressed jealousy finally erupts and he “steals” an apparently all-too-willing bride from her groom and drives away with her and a Rabbi, the bride smiling widely with her boobs bouncing for the camera. After they get away, the bride and the Rabbi leave Chromeo taking a piss at the side of a dusty road. What does this say about women? That they are trophies to be won by the newest and most popular bidder? That they are happy to be swapped from groom to groom? That they serve only the purpose to please men through private dances, and to prove men’s mojo by being their objects for jealousy? I’m not sure, but this song is getting deleted from my summer playlist.