Most people will remember the controversy caused by Blurred Lines, performed by Robin Thicke, Pharrell and TI. So outraged were people by the lyrics and music video, it was even banned from being played by some university student unions. In this article I'm not pointing my finger at the usual suspects who make songs with guns and swearwords; I'll be looking at songs playing on our airwaves today that have largely gone unchallenged despite their backwards or unhealthy messages.
All about that bass
Not because you like your own body, nor because you have other qualities like intelligence.
"It's pretty clear I ain't no size 2, but I can shake it shake it, like I'm supposed to do." Does she mean that girls are inherently supposed to shake their bodies for men's enjoyment? The next line confirms what I feared - that being desirable is the end goal when it comes to body image: "'Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase, all the right junk in all the right places."
To reinforce this horrible message, in the bridge Meghan comforts non-skinny girls by assuring them that "Boys like a little more booty to hold at night."
The chorus "American, you know I had to cop that foreign" sounds to me like he is saying he can buy foreign women like you would a commodity, because he is an American man. A fictional foreign woman who is the object of the song has a vulnerability implied by the fact "She only been here for two weeks” but this is seemingly attractive to Trey who says he "Might pull out his Visa". This song does nothing to tell young impressionable fans that women, especially foreign women, are not something you can brag about buying.
The song is brutal with Iggy promoting unnecessary violence with lyrics such as "When this b**** hit the ground, how these Louboutins taste?" The last thing we need playing in the club is a song encouraging people to brawl. She should take her own advice and "Stop, wait, think about it" before she makes assaulting another human being seem like a cool thing to do.
Let's get one thing straight, I'm not against art about drug addiction (Sia did a great job of it with Elastic Heart) but I do think that songs shouldn't glamourise alcohol and drug abuse. In the music video Tovelo looks relatively good through her drug induced orgie highs and crying in the bathroom lows and the nastiness and pain referred to in the lyrics is downplayed. For any young viewers out there who think this is a good solution to getting an ex out of your mind, I guarantee you will feel better and move on quicker if you stay sober!
Drunk In love
Who in their right mind compares themself to a convicted rapist (Michael Tyson) when talking about his sex life with his wife? But it gets worse. "I'm Ike Turner, turn up, babe you know I don't play, now eat the cake Anna-Mae". When me and my friends heard that line, we didn't get the reference and thought he said "eat the cake, anime". And what a lot of people do when they dont understand a line in a song is look up the lyrics on Google. Imagine my shock when I found out he is quoting a scene from Tina Turner's autobiography where her abusive husband demands she eat a cake she didn't order in a restaurant. Again, I can't understand why Jay-Z would say he is like Ike, the same scumbag who said in his memoirs "Sure, I've slapped Tina.... There have been times when I punched her to the ground without thinking. But I have never beat her." Is this an outright description of him and Beyonce's relationship, or a pathetic attempt to assert his masculinity in one of her hugely successfully songs? Either way it is disturbing.
When you look closely at these popular songs it's easy to jump to conclusions about why the world is such a messed up place. Having said that, I grew up listening to Eminem and Britney Spears and have yet to beat my partner or shave my head. I suppose I will conclude that even if young listeners don't end up actually doing the things they hear about in songs, their existence on the charts implies that these behaviour are in fact acceptable in our society.
- REVIEW: Predatory Thinking by Dave Trott