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  • Alicia Takaoka

Misheard Lyrics?

Punk rock cover songs and break up songs are some of the greatest songs of all time, and punk rock love songs should be their own genre of music! If you aren’t versed in these new school things, check out Blink by 88 Fingers Louie, The Exhumation of Virginia Madison by Strung Out, Violins by Lagwagon, Candy (Mandy Moore Cover) by Slick Shoes, or “Vincent” by Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies.

One of the bands that shaped me as a young person was The Descendents. They are a foundational punk band out of formed on the west coast in the late 70s. Milo, the lead singer for most of the band’s history, left for a while to pursue a PhD. Punk rock has a lot of doctorates in fact, so my favorite genre taught me I didn’t have to compromise on my educational goals because of my music and beliefs. I would only have to compromise being a woman.



So, hear me out. The lyrics to “Sour Grapes” by The Descendents did not age well. It starts off with a man approaching a woman at a party, and after complimenting her dress and trying to ask her out, he is met with silence. He did not actually ask her anywhere or to do anything. The song just implied that he tried. He then proceeds to trash and demean her for his feelings. Some of the lyrics are:

I wanted her cherry, I got sour grapes I refuse to climb the ladder for you I refuse to pant and paw for you I need love, don't need no beauty queen But still, when I look at you, I scream

Uhhhh, you can want whatever you want, but you are entitled to nothing. Consent is a thing. It was even though no one took it seriously. Its one of the reasons why domestic abuse and intimate partner violence are now crimes and divorce is legal. This is the chorus:

Sour grapes - you leave such a bad taste Sour grapes - I don't need you anyways Sour grapes - feeding, feeding my rage

Excuse me! She’s not doing shit but minding her own business, and you come over here like you’re entitled to her time or her words or her virginity (because that’s what the cherry is), and then you turn around and blame her for your own emotions?!? That is a textbook example of incel interactions.

It’s not the only song by the band where the man Just…what?

This is so challenging for me because I am reconciling some of the messages I internalized from my influences that really colored the ways I treated other women until about 10 years ago when I decided not only that friendships with women were healthy, but I wanted to explore how to be more supportive and a better friend to the women in my life. So, another song by The Descendents with negative messages about women are “Hope” and “Bikeage.” Both of these songs demean women that don’t fit into Milo’s expectations of what a woman should be. Some of those expectations can be heard in “Silly Girl” and “Good Good Things.”

These lyrics also shaped my views what a woman should be and my perceptions of other women. I was taught that my anger was a problem. Saying no was a problem. Being anything other that quirky and sweet was a problem, and exploring my own sexuality on my own terms was a problem. I was taught that my male friends’ perceptions of how women treated my male friends was more important than how a woman was being treated or her own lived experience.

Read that again:

I was taught that my male friends’ perceptions of how women treated my male friends was more important than how a woman was being treated or her own lived experience.

I feel like I may spend a good part of my life trying to make up for this shitty programming.

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