Suggestive song lyrics — yesterday and today

car stereo dialIt’s not easy being a GenX parent. So much has changed from the decades dominated by the free-range parenting style. I even had the idea to start a special feature about how much harder it is for parents these days, and I get ideas all the time. I’ve just been too lazy to put them into thoughtful posts.

Take for example song lyrics. Considering that music-oriented pop culture is introduced at younger ages these days, and that Miley Cyrus seems to have no limit to what she is willing to do onstage or say in interviews, one might suggest that this is another way in which GenX parents have been burdened with yet another hazard to circumvent.

I’m not sure this is true. As a kid, I heard an ample number of suggestive songs on the pop music stations of my ultra-conservative hometown. (I lived in one of the markets where George Michael’s late-80s hit was, “I Want Your Love.”)

Let’s take a look at yesterday and today through the lens of risqué lyrics.

Today: “Get Lucky” — Daft Punk
Yesterday: “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” — Rod Stewart

It’s a lot easier to tell your kids “Get Lucky” is about visiting casinos in Monte Carlo than trying to explain the concept of sexy and how Rod Stewart could be considered as such. Throw in a rumor about what was found when Rod’s stomach was pumped, and out through the school bus window goes your 10-year-old’s innocence.

Today: “Can’t Feel My Face” — The Weekend
Yesterday: “Cocaine” — Eric Clapton

I am ready with my explanation. If they ask, I will tell my kids that The Weekend is talking about vampires. My supporting evidence is the line, At least we’ll both be beautiful and stay forever young. This may not be the most comforting interpretation, but it beats telling my kids the real story. I’d like to see a parent concoct an alternate meaning for what Clapton sang about.

Today: “Teenage Dream” — Katy Perry
Yesterday: “Afternoon Delight” — Starland Vocal Band

Eventually your kid is going to understand, Let’s go all the way tonight. No regrets, just love. But you can pretty much ignore it until that time. “Afternoon Delight,” though; it’s just so forthright in its ickiness. This song still makes me uncomfortable and embarrassed and all those things you feel when you finally realize what those feminine protection commercials are about. I seriously wonder if this song put a damper on daytime “escapades,” rather than encouraged them. My kids hate it when I sing along to, “Can’t Feel My Face.” They have no idea what my generation suffered hearing our moms singing “Afternoon Delight.”

Today: “Cool for the Summer” — Demi Lovato
Yesterday: “Like a Virgin” — Madonna

“Cool for the Summer” is stuffed with more innuendo than it takes to make Paul Stanley blush. But until kids have already been introduced to these concepts otherwise, the lyrics are explainable. (Really you should turn the song off due to extremely low artistic merit.) “Like a Virgin” has no innuendo. Madonna just puts it all out there. And you can’t turn the station when Madge is on.

Today: “Animals” — Maroon 5
Yesterday: “Sexual Healing” — Marvin Gaye

So the same hometown stations that refused to play “I Want Your Sex,” had no problem putting “Sexual Healing” into heavy rotation. That aside, it’s hard to come up with an innocent twist on a line like, Let’s make love tonight. Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up. ‘Cause you do it right. The most egregious of lines from “Animals” can’t compare.


Madonna’s Legacy to GenX

I’ve never given the subject of Madonna’s legacy much thought.  Generally, I think of her influence going only as far as the fingerless gloves I donned for an after-prom outfit my sophomore year in high school.  But while cruising around the web the other day, I came upon this article from Salon posing one person’s point-of-view on the impact Madonna has had on American culture.  And she brings up some interesting points.

Read the article — it’s good.  But to summarize here, the author says that Madonna is responsible for our society’s change in perspective toward sexuality.  Certainly, she took a lot of risks in terms of what she said (“Like A Virgin” and “Papa Don’t Preach”) and what she did (“Like A Prayer” and her best-selling coffee table book “Sex”).  And she definitely got away with a lot more than anyone would expect of a pop artist.  I wish I was a sociologist, because I could have a lot more to say to support or counter this point, but I think it’s worth pondering if you’re into pop culture.

But as a grown woman who adored Madonna for a short while as a teenager, I can vouch for the innocence of this pursuit.  While she sexualized almost everything, she also sent a message that told us, “You can do it.”  Madonna was from the Midwest, not one of the coasts, but she was cool enough to fit in in New York City.  She launched her career with a marginally decent voice and relatively simple songs.  She was all the rage because she wore quirky fashions and looked like a teenager in the body of a twenty-something.  Her look was attainable, regardless of how pretty, tall or thin you were.  She was a model for the any-girl in an era when super models were on the rise.

Just because we liked Madonna didn’t mean that we were going emulate her sexual behavior.  And we felt that if we ever met Madonna, she’d be totally ok with that.  After all, she did tell us “don’t go for second best” and that we “deserve the best in life.”  What an incredible message for a young lady to hear.