Lyrics Deconstruction: “Bad” by The Cab

The premise of the song “Bad” is nothing new: the singer desires an unhealthy relationship instead of the healthy one he’s being offered. It’s a sentiment that has been echoed in many other songs, a sentiment that speaks to the secret place inside most people that desires things they know are not acceptable by society:

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
That’s alright because i like the way it hurts
Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
That’s alright because i love the way you lie

–Rihanna, Love The Way You Lie

I want your ugly
I want your disease
I want your everything
As long as it’s free
I want your love

–Lady Gaga, Bad Romance

Kill me romantically, fill my soul with vomit
then ask me for a piece of gum.
Bitter and dumb, you’re my sugarplum
you’re awful, I love you…

–Ludo, Love Me Dead

As you can see, definitely not a new sentiment, and by far not the most extreme example.  So when this song starts, it’s harmless enough on the surface:

Cause you love me just the way that you should
It’s nothing that you do
No it’s nothing you say
Yeah baby, I know that you’re good
But I don’t want a good girl
No, not today

Cause I want it bad I want a bad girl, baby, bad

Nothing more or less than the previous songs. Here’s the part that gets to me, though: in the next verse, Cab begins defining what it means to be a “bad” girl.

I want a girl who stays out too late
And when I call
She doesn’t answer the phone
Oh, I want a girl who likes it her way
And through it all
I know I’ll end up alone

To be perfectly blunt about this, what Cab defines as “bad” is not coming at his beck and call, having her own life, having fun without him, knowing what she wants. Independent, assertive behavior is labelled “bad” in a female. Try reversing the genders a moment for a sanity check: a man who stays out all night and doesn’t wait by the phone for his girl to call would be considered perfectly normal, nothing to sing about.

I’m getting sick of predictable Tired of acting logical

What’s unpredictable or illogical about knowing her own mind and doing what she wants? The fact that women are supposed to be meek, passive, dependent. The fact that women are expected to live for their man — just look at the success of the Twilight franchise, a series in which the loss of a man makes the main character into an emotional zombie, unable to function in her own life. The fact that women are meant to have no sexual preferences of their own: just look at the stigma around “taking it from behind”, an act that is treated as the ultimate prize a man has to talk his woman into, an act that no woman is portrayed as wanting in mainstream media unless she’s a complete nymphomaniac.

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