When I look back on the past almost two decades of my life, I can’t help but notice the downward spiral that is lyrics for popular music. Listen to some of the music from the early ‘70s and ‘80s, and then listen to the top 40 today. Do you hear a difference in the lyrics? If you don’t, you’re either not paying attention or didn’t actually listen to it. So listen again. Now do you hear it? I bet you do.
When the British Invasion started, and bands like the Beatles and the Dave Clark Five started cranking out hits, their lyrics stood for love. Now, listen to Drake or Kanye or Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl.” You can’t say that it’s about love. It’s about making love. There’s a huge difference, and it’s one I cannot support.
When the late ‘80s turned into the ‘90s, that generation started to get sick of the crooning love songs that were popular. They decided to turn songs into the hard-rocking rhythms and include the sexual innuendos that we now hear in some of the most popular songs during that era.
Now, I know that there are songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s that are unsavory, such as The Doors’ “The End,” or the obvious “I Want to Make Love to You” from Foghat, but they were made in moderation because of the audience. The world back then was a lot more conservative, and it was easily offended by those types of songs. I am in the same mold. We don’t need that kind of message in popular music. No wonder there are so many issues involving sex today. People are trying to emulate their heros in the music industry.
When I listen to music, I enjoy a song that tells a story. Probably my favorite song is “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)” by the Temptations. It tells of a man who looks out his window each day and imagines that he’s marrying a girl who he hasn’t even met. Eddie Kendricks serenades us with the words, “But in reality, she doesn’t even know me.” Thus ends a story of love and heartbreak. The man finally realizes that he’s imagining the whole beautiful scenario. It is a song of tenderness and emotion, not just physicality and mindless fornication.
Now, I admit that I’ve listened to some of the raunchy songs when I was younger and didn’t know better. But now that I’ve grown and I started paying attention to the lyrics, I can see how offensive they really are.
So, now I’m going to give a song lyric, and you can guess the meaning behind them. I’ll start in the ‘70s.
– “But every time I see your face, I get all choked up inside.” (The Four Tops, 1965)
– “And dream of a girl I used to know. I closed my eyes, and she slipped away.” (Boston, 1976)
– “We’ve got each other, and that’s a lot for love.” (Bon Jovi, 1986)
Now, we get to the ‘90s and 2000s.
– “Release yourself upon me, and free the lines of chastity, unleash your sexuality, on me.” (Bloodhound Gang, 1995)
– “It’s getting hot in here. So take off all your clothes.” (Nelly, 2002)
Do we really need songs like the last two? Do we need all this sexuality in popular music? I don’t think so.