Dripping in falsetto-y sweetness, Tessa Kaye speaks on the double standard between what’s expected of men and women and their appearances in a glittery upbeat track entitled “Smile More.”
With deceiving Ariana Grande-esque poppiness, Kaye details the frustrating disparity that women have faced since childhood: to smile or not to smile. Kaye explains candidly that she had to put this sentiment into a song solely “for [her] own sanity.”
“There’s always been such a big double standard of how men and women have been allowed to act, or express themselves in society. Every woman I know has stories of times they’ve been told to smile from mostly men and ones who are often complete strangers.”
She adds that it goes deeper than just what is expected of women, but in the fact that not smiling conveys a completely different message between men and women.
“When a man has a straight face he’s usually perceived as strong, powerful, stern, deep in thought. For women, we’re said to be harsh, emotional, ‘bitchy,’ cold or just ‘not nice to look at.’ As if the reason we exist is to be pretty objects for someone else’s viewing pleasure. It’s completely bizarre. It’s been a conversation since I can remember, and it’s exhausting,” she says.
In the bridge, Kaye sums everything up nicely with a simple question: Why does my expression make you feel so threatened?
Even with a seemingly pointed subject matter, Kaye doesn’t hold back. She says exactly what she needs to say, laying it all out on the table atop the bubblegum beat created by LA producer, LaFrantz who she’s worked with frequently.
His work helps create a compelling juxtaposition between catchy, relatable and approachable and the honesty, bluntness and candor of what Kaye sings, almost emulating the gilded irony of smiling just to make others feel at ease.
Despite “Smile More” only being Kaye’s third release, she is slowly carving her own path in the industry. With solid songwriting capabilities touching on relatable themes, infectious melodies and nods to inspirations like Doja Cat, Jon Bellion, Tierra Whack and other R&B and pop pioneers, Kaye is undoubtedly an artist on the rise.
Above all, she wants her song to convey one central immutable theme: “Women don’t owe you shit.”
And don’t forget it.
Check out “Smile More” below.