(Header image via YouTube.)
Last Friday, TikTok star Dixie D’Amelio (sister of Gen Z fav Charli D’Amelio) released her first single “Be Happy.” The song has already racked up over 2 million streams on Spotify, and over 8 million views on its music video. Though D’Amelio didn’t write any of the lyrics or produce the song herself, fans have praised her voice via her TikTok account, so the transition to pop music is an understandable move for her brand and connection with fans.
Though the song is called “Be Happy” and has an upbeat, catchy tune, its lyrics are undeniably depressing. The song serves as an example of Gen Z’s relationship with mental health, using sarcasm and lightheartedness to cope with the depression they often feel.
Sometimes I don’t wanna be happy
Don’t hold it against me
If I’m down, just leave me there
Just let me be sad
Sometimes I just want to be lonely
Don’t need you to hold me
If I’m low, you don’t need to care
Let me be sad
This chorus repeats throughout the song, representing her desire to just be ok with not being happy sometimes. Rather than singing about a desire to find a way out of her depression, D’Amelio actually embraces it, asking others to allow her to simply feel what she needs to feel.
So often, when it comes to people we care about, we want to do everything we can to take the pain away from them. This can feel especially pertinent now, as Gen Z is reported to be the loneliest generation. However, D’Amelio pleads that the best thing anyone can do to help her is to leave her be, and let her process her emotions on her own. This thought process demonstrates Gen Z’s desire for independence, not wanting anyone’s help, no matter how dreary the days may get.
It’s ok to not be ok
In a press release for the song, D’Amelio said:
"I wanted to share the honesty of this message with others, especially those around my own age… some days, as we all know, it’s not easy to be happy. My hope is that anyone who listens can be reminded that it’s okay to feel what we feel. It’s okay to have a bad day. We all have them and you are not alone.”
(Adjusted for clarity.)
Authenticity is intrinsically tied to trust with Gen Z. The fact that D’Amelio’s main hope is to share honesty through her song gives her major credibility as someone teens can look up to. Teens can listen to her song and believe that D’Amelio is just like them, going through the same struggles.
Gen Z often copes with depression and anxiety with things like humor, sharing trauma on social media, or spinning their struggles to sound a lot more lighthearted than they may truly be. Whether it's actually effective or not, it’s certainly relatable, and D’Amelio uses this concept in “Be Happy.” While her lyrics are fairly blunt rather than comedic, “Be Happy” is produced to sound incredibly upbeat and peppy, rather than slow and sad to match the lyrics of the song. This allows the message of the song to potentially be hidden on first listen, similar to how Gen Z hides the seriousness of things like depression and anxiety under lighthearted jokes.
When “Be Happy” was first released, D’Amelio posted a TikTok with a caption asking viewers to stream the song. The TikTok consisted of her and some of her friends making funny faces, smiling, and dancing around together as the chorus of the song played in the background.
STREAM BE HAPPY!!! link in bio♬ Be Happy - Dixie D’Amelio
The TikTok serves as an acting-out of her point that “we all have [bad days] and you are not alone.” Though one has not been officially released, we guess that a TikTok dance trend for “Be Happy” is soon to be created by someone if not D’Amelio herself.
What should I do?
Dixie D’Amelio and her sister Charli are two of today’s biggest teen influencers, and Gen Z is hanging on their every word. Though the song may not sound like it has an uplifting message, it may be exactly how your teen is feeling. In songs like these, music serves as an important outlet to share one’s emotions, struggles, and mental health battles. So while the lyrics may seem rather harmful upon first listen, there’s a lot more to it, and it’s up to us as caring adults to help our teens through such ideas and feelings. We suggest you listen to the song first to get a feel for it, then start a conversation about it with your kid. Here are a few questions you can use to start a discussion.
- Have you heard Dixie D’Amelio’s new song “Be Happy”?
- What do you like about the song?
- What did you focus on more, the music or the lyrics?
- Do you relate to the song?
- Have you ever tried to cope with your mental health in a similar way?
- When you’re having a rough day, is it helpful for me to check in on you, or leave you alone?
- How can I help you to find ways to manage your mental health better?