Monday, October 6, 2014

What The TV Show Glee's "Shakin My Head" Song REALLY Means

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases the song "Shakin' My Head" as performed by "Meredith", an African American female character who is part of the American television show "Glee". The focus of this post is the meaning that is given to the phrase "shakin' my head" rather than to the performance of the song itself. As such, this post is a continuation of previous pancocojams posts on the vernacular meanings of the shaking my head gesture.* This post also presents my take on the meaning of Glee's "Shakin' My Head" song.

The content of this post is presented for cultural, sociological, enteertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to Rachel Perry and all others who are featured in this showcased video, and thanks to the publisher of that video on YouTube.

*Click and for those pancocojams posts.

"Shakin' My Head is an original song that is featured in The Untitled Rachel Berry Project, the twentieth and final episode of Season Five.[of the American television show Glee. It is sung by Mercedes with Brittany as one of the backup dancers and is Mercedes' single from her debut album with Sony Music Entertainment"...
Click for information about the show Glee. The word "Glee" stands for "glee club" (a group of people who perform musicially).

Also, click for a review of that episode. Here's an excerpt from that article:
"Glee Review-Recap Season 5 Episode 20 ‘The Untitled Rachel Berry Project': Shaking My Head
"But I did love one song: a rare Glee original, Shakin’ My Head. From Amber/Mercedes’ wailing to Heather/Brittany’s dancing (she’s back!), the energized dance-pop with provocative lyrics was the highlight of the night."...
Although this reviewer wrote the word in that title as "Shaking”, it is actually “Shakin'". That spelling is meant to represent or evoke African American Vernacular English (AAVE). That said, it should be noted that it's common practice for many non-African Americans to drop the "g" endings of words, particularly in informal communication.

SHOWCASE VIDEO: Full Performance of "Shakin My Head" from "The Untitled Rachel Berry Project" | GLEE


GLEE Published on May 13, 2014

It's Mercedes' time to shine with her performance of "Shakin My Head" - complete with back up dancer Brittany!

PARTIAL LYRICS - "Shakin My Head" from "The Untitled Rachel Berry Project" | GLEE
(composers: Adam Anders and Peer Åström)

...Mercedes (The Backup Dancers):
Sh-sh-shakin' my head, sh-sh-shakin' my head
(Shakin' my head)
Sh-sh-shakin' my head, sh-sh-shakin' my head
(Shakin' my head)

Every day when I'm a-wakin'
(Sh-sh-shakin' my head)
The questions got my head a shakin'
(Sh-sh-shakin' my head) Oh-oh
Like why does gravy give you heart attacks?
Woah-woah-oah (Sh-sh-shakin' my head)
And why do Republicans hate the blacks?
Hate the blacks, hate the blacks
And how come Jesus looks just like a white guy?
When he's from Palestine, that can't be right,
Sh-sh-shakin' my head, sh-sh-shakin' my head (Oh-oh noo)
Sh-sh-shakin' my head, sh-sh-shakin' my head (Hey!)
Sh-sh-shakin' my head, sh-sh-shakin' my head (I don't know)
Sh-sh-shakin' my head
Sh-sh-shakin' my head

Mercedes with the Backup Dancers (The Backup Dancers):
Sh-sh-shakin' my head
Sh-sh-shakin' my head (Shakin' my head)
Mercedes (The Backup Dancers):
Now all of ya'll are driving hybrid cars? (Sh-sh-shakin' my head)
So why can't we put a man on Mars? (Sh-sh-shakin' my head)
Yay, yeah, yeah
Why does TV have too many ads? (Sh-sh-shakin' my head)
That's enough now
And why are dogs always licking their nads?

Mercedes with the Backup Dancers (Mercedes):
And why do we keep borrowing from China?
And why do some flowers look like vaginas?

Sh-sh-shakin' my head, sh-sh-shakin' my head (Oh-oh noo)
Sh-sh-shakin' my head, sh-sh-shakin' my head (Hey!)
Sh-sh-shakin' my head, sh-sh-shakin' my head (I don't know)
Sh-sh-shakin' my head, (Na na-na-na-no)
Sh-sh-shakin' my head

...Mercedes (with the Backup Dancers):
(When I fly to the heaven) God will set me straight
(Like how come I drink diet coke) and (I keep gaining weight)
(Jesus, my lord and savior) Yeah, you know it's true...

Mercedes with the Backup Dancers (Mercedes):
Sh-sh-shakin' my head, sh-sh-shakin' my head (Yeah-yeah)
Sh-sh-shakin' my head, sh-sh-shakin' my head (Shakin' my head)
Sh-sh-shakin' my head, (Shakin') Sh-sh-shakin' my head (Oh yeah)
Sh-sh-shakin' my head, sh-sh-shakin' my head (Oh keep on)

Oh-oh-oh-oh (What's wrong) Shake it, oh-oh-oh-oh (With the world today) shake it
Oh-oh-oh-oh shake it, (Hey) Oh-oh-oh-oh (I don't, I don't know) Shake it
Oh-oh-oh-oh (I don't know) Shake it, oh-oh-oh-oh (No-oah woah) Shake it
Oh-oh-oh-oh shake it (Oooh-oh-oh-woah-woah-aah) Oh-oh-oh-oh shake it (Hahahaha)
Click for the complete lyrics to this song.

Some commenters on YouTube discusson threads about Glee's "Shakin My Head" song wrote that the lyrics don’t make any sense. Other commenters wrote that the lyrics are meant to be a joke and that this is meant to be a nonsence song. Rather than this being "nonsense song", this song frames a person's musing and somewhat random reflections as a way of prompting its listeners' consideration of beliefs and other things in society that are nonsensical.

Some things that the person thinks about are "heavy duty" (quite serious) while others are of lesser importance but still bothersome. For example, in the quite serious category, the person wonders why "Republicans hate the blacks", and why "Jesus is depicted as a white man although he came from Palestine". Some examples of the less serious but still exasperating things that the person wonders about is why television has so many ads and why diet coke is marketed as a weight loss beverage but actually causes weight gain.

The title of the song "Shakin' My Head" refers to the gesture that people do to express their exasperation with and/or disgust, disdain with something that is foolish, ignorant, and/or offensive.

The fact that some people may not agree with what the song says (for instance, that all members of the Republican political party hate all Black people), is somewhat besides the point. This is what the character singing believes to be true -based on her assessments and experiences- and her response to that belief is to "shake her head".

Three key lines that I think refers to my sense that Glee's "Shakin My Head" song about things that are foolish or wrong are
"Every day when I'm a-wakin'...

The questions got my head a shakin'...
Oh-oh-oh-oh (What's wrong) Shake it, oh-oh-oh-oh (With the world today) shake it"

In discussing the cultural meaning of Glee's song "Shakin My Head", I believe that it's important to note that the vocalist Rachel Perry (the character Meredith) is African American and is what we African American refer to as a "big boned" or "full bodied" woman. Those descriptions of the singer add cultual (and racial) meanings to the various lines in the song, particularly some of those which I've already mentioned. If the vocalist had been another race or ethnicity and wasn't "a big girl", than those lines wouldn't have the same meaning. In and of itself the song title "Shakin' My Head" conveys a racialized tone to the song which wouldn't occur if that title was given as "Shaking My Head" because of the "smh" gesture with the meanings that I've listed earlier originated with African Americans or at least have been and to a large extent are still more often associated with African Americans.

*I consider the phrase "the blacks" in the line "why do Republicans hate the blacks", as being socially incorrect (inappropriate) in the same way as the terms "the whites" and the gays" are socially incorrect. All of those phrases lump people into one monolithic, homogeneous group who look, and think, and act the same way. I prefer "Black people", "White people" and "people who are gay" because that way of referring to groups of people recognizes that they are individuals within their group/s.

But I wonder if the composers of that song used the term "the blacks" as a way of mimicking people who use that term, knowing that at least some people (meaning not only me) consider it to be off-putting.

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1 comment:

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