“Puppet” by Karmin
Qveen Herby, i.e. the main vocalist, has described the song “Puppet” as being “about manipulating someone”. And besides that someone, in this context, being a romantic interest, it can be ascertained that the lyrics are at least partially inspired by sort of a dominatrix motif, i.e. her practicing sexual dominance over the addressee.
But honestly, there’s a lot more going on in this narrative than what has been put forth above. For instance even if the vocalist is manipulating the addressee, the second verse in particular indicates that she does not desire to do so per se. He rather appears to be the passive type, seemingly wanting to be told ‘all he can and cannot do’. And it can be further gleaned that perhaps said personality trait on the addressee’s behalf is even annoying the vocalist to some extent.
It should be noted that the said addressee, i.e. the male, also has a voice in this song, most notably in the bridge. And in his defense, what he is saying is that he wants to “break free” of this bond of dependency, if you will, that he has on the vocalist.
But at the same time he loves her so much that he really can’t help but to be submissive. And such is actually the thesis sentiment of this piece. It is basically Qveen asserting that her guy ‘loves it’ when she treats him like a “puppet”.
Before closing, one further aspect of this relationship that should be noted is that, going back to her not necessarily preferring a guy that is compliant, the vocalist too obviously has strong feelings for the addressee. And that is why she is willing to play such a role in his life.
But if we were to resort to Herby’s explanation as cited in the first paragraph of this post, perhaps her coming off like the reluctant boss chick and then rather asserting that he prefers it that way is just part of a manipulative mind game she’s playing on her partner.
Karmin is a musical duo from Boston consisting of Amy “Qveen Herby” Noonan alongside her husband (since 2016), Nick Noonan. This spousal unit has been dropping tracks together since 2010 and experienced some notable hits along the way, at the top of the list in that regard being 2012’s Brokenhearted, with the early aughts also being the period they experienced their peak musical success thus far.
Throughout that decade they actually released three studio albums – Karmin Covers, Vol. 1 (2011), Pulses (2014) and Leo Rising (2016) – with the song we’re covering today being from the second of those efforts. But to note “Puppet”, which was officially released by Epic Records on 25 March 2014, was not amongst the two singles released from that project.
This track was written by Nick and Qveen with Sean Foreman and the track’s producer, Nathaniel Motte. And the latter two names on the list are a musical duo in their own right, known as 3OH!3.
This track was featured on a 2014 episode of So You Think You Can Dance.