If you told me in the 1990s that it was a halcyon age for sexual equality and liberation, I’d have laughed at you. I wouldn’t have believed society would move backwards after so many years. Now though, I’m genuinely shocked by what passes for normal for the current generation of teenagers. I hate to blame the internet but I do agree with all those who argue that the flood of porn and social media have a lot to do with distorting today’s teenagers’ views of sex and relationships. This post isn’t really about asking broad questions about what went wrong and what needs to change though. It’s about music.
I feel incredibly old saying this but the music industry and music channels like MTV are feeding the monster. The vast majority of the top female “artists” (I can’t bring myself to write that without being sarcastic) are expected to jiggle around, not just with next to nothing on but in leather and latex. Some of these women might think they’re liberated but when I see Nicki Minaj snarling at the camera while jiggling her preposterously large breasts, I think of a stripper who knows what she has to do to get paid and resents the hell out of it. Even women in their 30s who initially tasted success back in the days when work experience on a porn set wasn’t an essential on a pop star’s cv are at it. When I saw Kelly Rowland’s video for Down For Whatever I pitied her. I imagine that when they filmed that video she was constantly stopping, asking “does this look sexy? This? What if I?” And, of course, the men’s videos look like what you’d get if Pan’s People were spliced with porn.
As for the lyrics, I’m Down for Whatever is also a good example of what’s wrong with them. It would be better named “please don’t leave me. I’ll do anything to satisfy your porn based fantasies”. The actual lyrics, which suggest they should “get creative” but only specify “when it comes to you I would make love on the floor”, are a big “huh?” When did that become creative? Someone also needs to tell Kelly there are more appropriate descriptions for what she’s suggesting than “make love” and none of them actually involve any love whatsoever between what would probably be best described as “the participants” (not saying everyone always has to be in love but let’s be honest about it and not tell kids that what Rowland’s singing about is love). Finally, of course, the endless repetition of “I’m down for whatever” suggests “whatever” means a lot more and that the only way to keep her man is to unquestioningly do whatever he asks. That’s not sexy. It’s pathetic and that’s the kind of tripe today’s teenagers are fed.
Genuinely sexy music can and should bypass your brain. It should send a shiver down your spine from any or all of the instrumentals, vocals and lyrics. Yes, different people have different reactions and find different things sexy but I honestly believe the kind of synth pop crap being churned out is distorting a generation’s understanding of what sexy actually is. Lyrically and musically it’s hard to imagine how anyone can think these songs are sexy, while the endless parade of skin, leather and latex creates an oddly sanitised effect. It’s music for the dead inside and all that latex is about as sexy as a smear test. There’s no passion or heat in these songs or their videos, as if an entire generation is having its passion surgically removed. In my day (ahem), it would have been unthinkable to put these kinds of things on tv because they would have been seen as obscene. They are obscene but not in the way a previous generation would’ve have used the term. They’re obscene because they pevert natural, instinctive passion and tell young women to be submissive barbie dolls and tell young men to take what they want, when they want from however many barbie dolls they want.
All this is by way of introduction to a playlist of 10 songs, which have nothing in common with chart music other than the fact that they can be bought on Amazon. They’re not love songs. They’re music by adults for adults. It may not be your thing (although a fair few of my Twitter pals have impeccable taste!) but nobody could call the artists a bunch of dolls manipulated at the whim of the pop industry on the evidence of these tracks. It’s music that engages the senses. Incidentally, some of the sexiest songs ever written include some pretty dark lyrics if you pay attention. Personally, I think teenagers are supposed to feel. They’re supposed to love passionately and hurt passionately and there’s nothing wrong with music that reflects that angst. It’s music with heat and soul and it’s a hell of a lot better than music which reflects the porn industry.