WARNING: If references to four-letter words offend you, stop reading this article right now! But if you are concerned, as I am, about the vulgarity in today’s music and where it is headed, please read on.
As an adolescent, do you remember listening to your (or your folks’) Dean Martin, Paul Anka and Connie Francis LPs and 45s?
When you put those artists’ scratchy records on your turntable, I’m sure it never crossed your mind that those old vinyls would spit out lyrics that were anything other than language-appropriate. The music of that time was simply a reflection of the purity of the day.
Then things changed. Along came the end of 1960s decade, with its violent civil unrest, the war in Viet Nam and the explosion of “sex, drugs and Rock & Roll” — epitomized by the 1969 three-day love-in Woodstock Musical Festival. And thus the era of guaranteed innocence and clean language in American music was over… for good.
In the 1970s and ’80s, raunchy, hard core music began to surface on the records of white, hard rock, heavy metal, non-mainstream bands. But those bands seldom had a song that made it onto the airwaves — whether it was because of radio censorship of the time or because of the moral majority and its values.
In the late 1980s, radio stations began increasing to play more and more of the becoming popular Rap music (which now is referred to as “Old School Rap”). But, still, that old school rhythmic mantra was essentially free of vulgarity.
Then in the early 1990s, self-expression in music become a free-for-all, with the new-style Rap, Hip-Hop and Rock lyrics taking a plunge into a cesspool of grunge. “Sex, drugs and Rock & Roll” in music took on a whole different meaning. Things weren’t hinted at anymore — lyrics had become blatantly explicit and were expressed in a way and with language that would make your Andrews Sisters-loving grandmother turn over in her grave. Artists black and white, male and female — all equally guilty of audio“porn.”
And now today, nearly 20 years after the era of explicit grunge in music began, music has taken an even deeper plunge into the pit of filth and sleeze. This past week, Billboard listed the following song titles on its “Hot 100” chart — the chart that measures overall song popularity in America: “I Just Had Sex,” by the white rock band Lonely Island; “S&M,” by popular black female Hip-Hop artist Rihanna; and “What The Hell,” by white female pop-rocker Avril Lavigne.
Also listed on this week’s Billboard “Hot 100” chart — and for the first time in history, two songs (both in the top 10) that not only have the “F” word in their lyrics, but have it as a part of their titles (In their TITLES!): “Fing Perfect,” by white female pop-rock-dance artist Pink, and “F You,” by black rapper Cee Lo Green.
Maybe I’m just getting too old and I’ve become out of touch with what are acceptable standards — but this just really offends me. I just feel like screaming — how is it that we have come to this — and what is next!
This week’s trivia question goes back to a time in America when all music was clean and pure — the late 1950s-early 1960s.
Which of the following artists was NOT a “Malt Shop” singer during that period: A) Pat Boone, B) Ricky Nelson, C) Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott or D) Frankie Avalon?
If you’re caller number five this week and have the right answer, you’ll win a CD that I simply call, “Malt Shop Favorites” — 20 of the top hits from an age of innocence, 1957-1963.
Now, let’s see how we did with last week’s music trivia question, which was:
Which of the following songs was NOT a number one hit by the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger (who performed so brilliantly on the recent Grammy Awards show? A) “Paint It Black,” B) “Like A Rolling Stone,” C) “Honky Tonk Women,” or D) “Ruby Tuesday?”
The correct answer was B) “Like A Rolling Stone,” which was folk-rocker Bob Dylan’s top hit (reaching number 2 on the Billboard chart) in the summer of 1965.
“Paint It Black” (1966), “Ruby Tuesday” (1967) and “Honky Tonk Women” (1969) were three of the Stones’ eight chart-topping hits.
Congratulations to last week’s music trivia winner, Jim Woody, who won a “Best of the Rolling Stones” CD.
Jim was born in Alabama, but has lived “all over the country.” He spent the majority of his working days as a barber. A widower, Jim is a six-year resident of Payson, having moved here from Florida to be with family.
Jim enjoys listening to ’50s and ’60s Rock & Roll, particularly the Beatles, the Dave Clark Five, the Righteous Brothers and the Bee Gees.
Lastly, best of luck to all the middle and high school contestants who will be lip sync-ing their hearts out for $1,000 in continuing education scholarships at the third annual Lip Sync Concert this Saturday, 7 p.m., at the high school auditorium. I’ve attended this event the past two years and can enthusiastically say that the music and choreography chosen and performed by the students was out of this world!
Next week: A look at the new, “clean” artists and their songs topping the charts.
Web site: www.DJCraigInPayson.com