Filled with exotic Middle Eastern sax motifs mingled with the melodic voices of Fifth Harmony's five singers, "Worth It" is the highest-charting single so far for this cadre of former X Factor contestants. And a casual listen to the catchy song, with its oft-delivered chorus lyric, "Baby, I'm worth it," might make it sound as if this Simon Cowell-assembled quintet is delivering an empowering message.
A closer listen—not to mention a look at the song's video—reveals something decidedly less inspiring and a lot more objectifying.
So What Is "It"?
Over and over throughout the song we hear that titular refrain, "I’m worth it." But what is it? That's actually not a difficult question to answer: sex. This is hardly an anthem of healthy self-respect, then. No, it's about a woman trying desperately—nearly begging, in fact—to convince a man that he should hook up with her after meeting him at a dance club.
"Give it to me, I'm worth it," we hear the group sing in the first line of the song, "Baby, I'm worth it/Uh-huh, I'm worth it/Gimme, gimme, I'm worth it."
As the song progresses, we get a more fully, you might say, fleshed-out description of exactly what these girls want that guy to "gimme." "Just gimme you, just gimme you/Gimme you, that's all I wanna do," pants Dinah Jane Hansen. And if that's not clear enough, she tells him to get a move on already: "Hurry up, I'm waitin' out front." Normani Kordei coos, "Uh-huh, show me what you got/'Cause I don't wanna waste my time."
Camila Cabello delivers the song's most suggestive lines, leaving little to the imagination: "Come harder just because/I don't like it, like it too soft/I like it a little rough/Not too much, but maybe just enough." Oddly, guest rapper Kid Ink seems to think he's got to talk this woman into something she seems pretty willing to give already: "In the club with the lights off/Whatchu acting shy for?/Come and show me that you're with it."
Who's the Boss?
The video features the group's singers posing in quite revealing "bossy business" outfits, collecting wide-eyed ogles from subordinate males. Again, we're supposed to believe that they're somehow empowered and in control of getting what they want on their own terms, sexually speaking.
But I'm not buying it.
There's no empowerment here. Just five genuinely talented singers reduced to thrusting their hips and feigning sexual movements (complete with come-hither glances) that suggest their sole value is in what they can offer sexually to a man (and their gawking fans).
They're selling their fans down the river, and they're selling themselves way short. The five women in Fifth Harmony are worth so much more in so many more ways than the demeaning objectification that they casually, coyly submit to in this song and video.