Scars to Your Beautiful

Todd in shadows scars to beautiful.jpg

Date Aired
February 20, 2017
Running Time
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Todd plays "Scars to Your Beautiful" on the piano.

A pop song review

Todd: Hi everyone. Today it's time for yet another edition of "Hey womenfolk! You know how you hate yourself? You know how you despise every inch of your body and every day you look in the mirror and go 'Why God Why' and then collapse into a puddle of shame and self-hatred because your life is so miserable and horrible? Well hey. Stop that!" [smiles and pauses] Yeah, I'm not thrilled I'm doing another one of these either.

Clip of Meghan Trainor - "All About That Bass"

Todd (VO): I've already reviewed a bunch of them, I don't like these songs. Like, none of them really, it's just [video for "Scars to Your Beautiful"] I talked about today's song, "Scars to Your Beautiful," briefly as an honorable mention in my Worst of 2016 list. And it doesn't seem to be fading at all in 2017, so I thought I should give it the full review.

Todd: But I, I, I don't like reviewing these inspirational songs! I don't wanna be a dick, but they blow!

Clips of P!nk - "Fuckin' Perfect"...

Todd (VO): Almost all of them! They're always trying so hard, they don't do anything for me, and the artists are always so up their own asses about it!

... Wilson Phillips - "Hold On"...

Todd (VO): They're always like "Oh, we did it for the fans! We wanted to make a difference, so we wrote this song to save the children!"

Todd: They're always so proud of themselves, because they wrote some clichéd-ridden pile of pandering!

...and finally, Good Charlotte - "Hold On".

Todd: Yuck! I've heard Good Charlotte talk about this. How is this something to be proud of?

Interview with Good Charlotte

Benji Madden: Definitely think it is the most important song we've ever written.

Back to the performance video

Todd (VO): Oh, it's so meaningful! No it's not! Who could possibly like this?

Todd: Who would wanna listen to it?

Hyper Fangirl: I do! I love that song! That song is so great!

Todd: Wha...

Hyper Fangirl: That song saved my life! One time, I got a bad review on one of my fanfics, and I was so sad that I was gonna throw myself into a jet engine! I was on the tarmac and everything! But I heard that song... and it gave me the strength to keep on living!

Todd: What, are you kidding me? This song sucks!

HFG gets sad...

Todd: I...Well, I mean...

Hyper Fangirl: You're right, it's garbage! It's garbage, and I'm garbage, and where's the nearest airport? [starts fiddling with her phone]

Todd (VO): No, no, no, no,no!

Todd: It's great! It's great! The song's great! It's a great song! It's wonderful! Fantastic, it's perfect, I love it, best song ever written!

Hyper Fangirl: [angry, pulling her glasses down] That's right, it is!

Todd stands silent, arms thrown for a second, and then...

Todd: See? See?! This is why I don't like reviewing songs like this! I always come off looking like an asshole!

Video for "Scars to Your Beautiful"

Todd (VO): And I'm especially gonna look like an asshole for this one because it's... it's another song for girls and how they feel about their bodies so you know... I'm not the audience for this! I may as well be reviewing [picture of...] a sports bra.

Todd: [groping his chest] I don't get it! Doesn't do anything for me! [throwing his arms] Well, no shit! I'm a guy! I mean I got, like 15 pounds that I need to lose and I can't seem to drop the weight no matter how... [picture of Todd lying on the couch reading Fifty Shades of Grey] little I try. Does it faze me? Does it make me feel bad in any way? Not really. I mean... see... look at this. [puts a box atop his keyboard] Bulk Pringles from Costco! [Todd starts scarfing down a packet] See? I don't feel bad at all! Although...

Shirtless Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy

Todd (VO): I will say... [now it's shirtless Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love] we are making great strives in that front, during this, you know, the 'roid era of male beauty. Who knows?

Todd: Maybe some day, little boys will feel just as shitty as little girls. I have a dream.

Video for "Scars to Your Beautiful"

Todd (VO): But as it is, little girls are gonna need at least some reassurance that the world doesn't hate them as much as they think. So, we're just gonna keep getting songs like this.

Video for Alessia Cara - "Here"

Todd (VO): The latest comes from 20 year old Alessia Cara who... OK, I'll admit she is the most promising of the Lorde-a-likes, she's the one that seems the most like a real songwriter, the one that seems like she most believes the things she's singing about...

Clip of Daya - "Sit Still, Look Pretty"

Todd (VO): ...she's not a total plastic clone like Daya...

Clip of Halsey - "New Americana"

Todd (VO): ...and she's far more ambitious than Halsey.

Video for "Here"

Todd (VO): And when I first heard "Here", her first song, at the end of 2015, I think I was impressed. You gotta dig that sample!

Todd: And yet... I really never quite grooved with it.

Back to here "Here"

Todd (VO): I wasn't sure why. It's a song about being at a party you hate full of lame people. I remember that, being too good for these stupid frat parties.

Todd: My friends drank merlot and discussed literature!

Todd: OK, in reality our stupid nerd parties weren't actually any better than...

Cuts back again to "Here"

Todd (VO): ...the stupid, "cool kids" parties. Think that's maybe why I didn't really like this song, it's just snobby and judgmental.

Alessia Cara: But honestly I'd rather be
Somewhere with my people
We can kick it and just listen to
Some music with a message, like we usually do

Todd (VO): Yeah, why listen to party music at a party when you can be listening to...

Todd: ...I don't know, songs about the evils of the meat industry or whatever.

Clip of Boogie Down Productions - "Beef"
KRS-One: He has drugs to make the cow grow quicker
Through the stress the cow gets sicker

Todd:I mean, Lorde could seem judgmental too but...

[Clip of Lorde - "Royals"]

Todd (VO): Lorde had this preternatural coolness about her. Lorde is quiet and self-assured.

Alessia Cara singing "Here" on The View

Todd (VO): And Alessia Cara is loud and tries very, very hard. She sounds like the American Idol version of Lorde. All oversinging and too much emoting.

Todd: I mean, I guess. I mean that was the only song I've heard from her.

Clip of Alessia Cara - "Wild Things"
Alessia: Find me where the wild things are
Oh my, we'll be alright

Todd: Oh, oh, yeah, yeah, there was this! Ah, I heard this a couple times.

Alessia: Find me where the wild things are
I lose my balance on these eggshells

Todd (VO): I've certainly heard worse songs by...

Todd: ...Canadian teenage girls about children's books in 2016!

Clip of Ruth B - "Lost Boy"
Ruth B: Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, Wendy Darling

Todd (VO): God, I can't believe that song exists.

Todd: But anyway, Alessia Cara didn't really have a big follow-up until...

Video for "Scars to Your Beautiful"

Todd (VO): ...this one, "Scars to Your Beautiful". Which is still climbing right now and may end up being her biggest hit yet. Like I said, it's about, you know, you are beautiful no matter what they say and words can't bring you down.

Alessia: But there's a hope that's waiting for you in the dark

Todd (VO): Songs like these, they're a dime-a-dozen.

Todd: But there are a couple things that make this song stand out. First off, there's the title.

Alessia: No scars to your beautiful, we're stars and we're beautiful

Todd (VO): Scars to Your Beautiful. What a weird line, right? "No scars to your beautiful".

Todd: Adjective as noun. I guess it's poetic. Or it's cutesy and obnoxious! Although it is better than...

Clip of Sara Bareilles - "Brave"

Todd (VO): Sara Bareilles singing about my brave.

Sara Bareilles: Show me how big your brave is!

Todd (VO): The hell did that mean?

Todd:Yeah, baby, I'll show you how big my brave is.

Alessia: No scars to your beautiful...

Todd (VO): And Scars to Your Beautiful... like... I don't know, it sounds kinda like a curse, right?

Todd: Pfft! Beautiful... Scars to your beautiful! And sucks to your ass-mar!

Alessia:Maybe we have made her blind
So she tries to cover up her pain and cut her woes away

Todd (VO): But what scars is she talking about? Well, as it turns out she doesn't just mean emotional scars, but also...

Alessia: She praises an image
She prays to be sculpted by the sculptor

Todd (VO): Yes girls, the enemy is plastic surgery. And she is right. The messages that the cosmetic surgery industry gives to little girls is awful.

Todd: And I'll tell you why: plastic surgery is expensive! Like, a good tummy tuck, that can go all the way up to $15,000. I don't have $15,000! That's way too much!

[Clip of "Scars to Your Beautiful"]

Todd (VO): You can get it for less, but the cheap stuff tends to leave scars and we don't want any scars to your beautiful. Yeah, I guess this is a...this is a song against low quality plastic surgeons I guess. I mean if you've got that money...sure, why not.

Alessia: To cover up her pain and cut her woes away

Todd (VO): I don't know, I don't really think it's that big a deal. We shit on people for getting it, but, you know, most people who do get plastic surgery, they're glad they did it. I mean... good return on their investment!

Todd:I don't know, I feel like we've got like this weird relationship with plastic surgery,you know, like "oh, plastic surgery is bad!" There's kind of an implied "people who get plastic surgery are shallow and they just need to love themselves more".

Clip of "All About That Bass"

Todd (VO): It's not quite Meghan Trainor "shit on the pretty people" jealousy, but it's kind of edging up to it, you know.

Alessia:And you don't have to change a thing
The world could change its heart

Todd (VO): Yeah, beauty shouldn't matter as much as the ads tell you it does, but it also doesn't matter zero.

Todd: I think that's my problem with the song, I feel like the song is trying too hard. Like, you know...

[Clip of...]

Todd (VO): In Disney's Hunchback, where the gargoyles are trying to tell him he's like, super attractive.

Hugo:You've got a look
That's all your own, kid

Todd (VO): I mean, spoilers: she still ends up with the traditionally handsome good-looking guy! Which, yeah, who's surprised?

Gargoyles: No question of
She's gotta love
A guy like you!

Todd (VO): No, you plot-irrelevant liars! She doesn't! She won't!

["Scars to Your Beautiful"]

Todd (VO): And Alessia Cara kind of sounds the same way! She doesn't know you! She just sounds patronizing!

Alessia: Light that's shining
Deeper than the eyes can find it
Oh, she don't see the light that's shining
Let me be your mirror
Help you see a little bit clearer the light that shines within

Todd (VO): That's your message, "you're beautiful on the inside"? That's an insult! If I get an F on a test, telling me that I got an A on the inside isn't not gonna cheer me up.

Todd: [spits] That's dishonest, am I right?


Todd (VO): No, no, no, no, no, I'm not saying that! I mean, I guess it does kind of sound like I'm saying that, what I'm actually... God, I hate reviewing these songs!

[Back to "Scars to Your Beautiful"]

Todd (VO): Look, maybe I should just quit while I'm ahead. OK, fine, the song is generic and overdone. There are worse things. Don't starve yourself. Don't put all your hopes in plastic surgery.

Todd: Love yourself. Those are good messages. No... no scars to your beautiful. None of that.

Alessia: So she tries to cover up her pain and cut her woes away

Todd: Actually, hold on, is she doing plastic surgery to herself?

Alessia: And cut her woes away

Todd: Or, wait a minute... Is this song about cutting yourself? I mean, I haven't seen Alessia Cara or anyone saying that that's what it's about but...

Todd: ...that would make sense.

[Back to 'Scars to Your Beautiful']

Todd (VO): [superimposed image of a woman whose arms are covered in written band-aids] I mean, you know, cutting yourself, it's, it's unhealthy. It's something people do to relieve depression, it leaves scars...

Todd: Makes this song make a lot more sense than plastic surgery, really...

[Back to 'Scars to Your Beautiful']

Todd (VO): Actually, yeah, I think that is secretly what this song is about. It works a lot better, yeah, yeah, it's a good message. [image of a self-harm hotline] Kids, don't cut yourself cutting yourself is bad.


Todd: Jesus! When did music get this depressing?!

Alessia: Beauty is pain and there's beauty in everything"
"What's a little bit of hunger?"

Todd (VO): OK, I've changed my mind. The reason this song is bad isn't because it's clichéd, or it's condescending...

Todd:'s because it's such a goddamned buzzkill!

Todd (VO): I mean, I keep telling you guys that pop music has become an unending slog of grimness and misery in the past 12 months or so.

Todd: Well, look at this! This is what uplifting, self-empowerment anthems sounded like just five years ago!

Clip of Katy Perry - "Firework"
Katy: Baby you're a firework
Come on let your colors burst

Todd: Four years ago!

Clip of Kelly Clarkson - "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)"
Kelly: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller

Todd: Two years ago!

Clip of Meghan Trainor - "All About That Bass"
Meghan: Yeah, my momma she told me don't worry about your size

Todd: One year ago.

Clip of Rachel Platten - "Fight Song"
Rachel: This is my fight song
Take back my life song

Todd: I don't even like those songs!

Todd (VO): But at least they're happy... they're positive, they don't reek of pity.

[Back to 'Scars to Your Beautiful']

Todd (VO): Like, if Alessia Cara was trying to make a sad song, that'd be one thing, but she's trying to make this, like, pump-up anthem! Yes, call and response! It has big "woah-woah-woahs".

Todd: For the record, there shouldn't be anything wrong with going "Woah-woah-woah" in pop music. But...

Clip of Quartz explaining about the "millennial whoop"

Todd (VO): It's become such an overused cliche in modern pop music that they even gave it a goddamned name!

Todd: And there's a particular "Whoa-whoa-whoa" that's being used here.

[Alessia going "woooooah"]

Todd (VO): It's the same "Whoa-whoa" that anyone uses when they want to make a boring, thin-sounding song seem bigger than it is.

Instances of said "millennial whoop" in Coldplay - "Paradise", Imagine Dragons - "Radioactive", and Wiz Khalifa ft Charlie Puth - "See You Again"

Todd (VO): You see! Those aren't happy songs.

[Back to 'Scars to Your Beautiful']

Todd (VO): "Scars to Your Beautiful" is using the language of sadness! I mean, here's a verse where a girl starves, maybe even dies...

Alessia: "What's a little bit of hunger?"
"I can go a little while longer," she fades away

Todd (VO): [Clip of Lady Gaga - "Born This Way"] OK, Imagine if Lady Gaga had written "Born This Way", but instead the verses went: "My mama told me when I was young: I don't accept you, get out of my house!"

Todd: "I ended homeless, living on the street, and addicted to heroin... "

"Scars to Your Beautiful"
Alessia: No better you than the you that you are

Todd (VO): Like, if you get positive vibes out of this song, cool. I don't. To me, it's entirely negative. It's just so tedious. It's platitude-filled drivel, with all the depth of a Dove commercial, from someone who sounds like she just realized that "Hey, did you notice society puts too much emphasis on looks?" Wow, you don't say, Alessia Cara. You bore me!

Todd: Well, this was yet another day that I shat on someone for trying to be positive. Yep. Doing good work, Todd! Uh, stay in school, say no to drugs? Meh.

Alessia: We're stars and we're beautiful

Video ends

Closing tag song: Jay and the Americans - "Cara Mia"

"Scars to Your Beautiful" is owned by Def Jam/UMG
This video is owned by me


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