Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lyrically Messaged

Possibly controversial thought of the day:

I will preface this by saying I am not a big fan of rap OR country music. I know very little about both. My previously strong dislike of country music has been lessened a bit by my love of the show Nashville. And there is some mainstream pop/rap I enjoy. So I'm not even "for" or "against" either. I'm just making an observation.

What I do know is that there is always issue with rap lyrics, censorship, and general problem with the subject matter that gets enough attention where I'm aware of it without being a listener. Yet, I've NEVER heard about country song lyrics being inappropriate. Yet, the few songs I've heard are about destruction of property for cheating, smoking, shooting, and lots of drinking. Whole songs about Whiskey. That kids seem to be encouraged to listen to.

Now, I'm the LAST person to chastise anyone for what is or isn't inappropriate kid listening music. My kid is REALLY into Pitbull right now. Enough said. My thoughts on this whole subject came up because I was watching a piece on GMA this morning. They showed a little girl whose Make A Wish Foundation wish was to meet Luke Bryan and he was singing with her. The words they were singing were:  Rain makes corn, corn makes whiskey, whiskey makes my baby feel a little frisky. He'd sing one line and she sang the next. When SHE sang the word "frisky" Luke Bryan and her family laughed. Cute, right? I don't know. No it isn't awful & I certainly wouldn't have a problem with E listening to it. E was singing Ke$ha's "I brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack" when he was two and a half. He wasn't old enough to know or even ask what Jack actually IS and I'm just not that caught up in what that would mean to him. I'm also not conservative at all and song lyrics don't happen to be my hill to die on. I was just surprised at this little Luke Bryan/little girl duet. It's a morning show, it's pretty much all supposed to be feel-good stuff in these human interest stories. It seemed early in the day for public whiskey and frisky. I stopped what I was doing to see how old of a kid this was singing with him. I just looked her up and she's eight years old. I used to be a camp counselor for eight year old girls. They're pretty astute. Is she not going to ask what whiskey is and how it's going to make someone frisky? It just seemed...odd. Odd for what I assume was supposed to be a cute morning show segment.

It just brought me back to an episode of American Idol when Skylar Laine was doing a cover of Gunpowder & Lead. I'd never heard it, of course, but I looked up from my computer, while she was singing, because I was like, "WHAT is she singing?? Did she just say something about smoking cigarettes and getting a shotgun? All while dancing and smiling?". I get that the song is about a woman whose boyfriend or husband hit her so she was taking care of it, in a "strong woman" type of way. Maybe it's supposed to be some kind of anthem. I don't know. I haven't investigated it. But the point is- she's saying she's a "six-pack in", going to light up a cigarette and then point a gun at him. And this ok. You dress up a high schooler cute, let her loose on stage, and have her sing this in an uptempo beat, and it's ok. It's more than ok. It's kick-ass YEAH, and everyone votes for her to advance in the competition. No one says a word about the subject matter. And again, *I* am ok with the subject matter. Well, in terms of not wanting to censor. I'll be the first WTF'ing that this is what makes a song and people like it but that's another story.

But I feel like if a boy or even a girl tried to sing some rap song with questionable lyrics it would some kind of scandal. Or it wouldn't even be allowed because it would be in "poor taste". Meanwhile, B and I were watching The Voice and this girl Shelby Z sang a song, with a good beat and hook, called- "Last Name". We were grooving along, never having heard it, when B asked me, "Is she singing about doing the Walk of Shame??" I started laughing, like I do, and said "Gosh Dang It (as Blake Shelton would say), I believe she is!". I mean, the song is CALLED "Last Name" and she's basically saying that she got drunk, went home with some strange guy, slept with him, and DOESN'T EVEN KNOW HIS LAST NAME. But it's wrapped up in a good voice, a good groove, and a hot girl singing it. No one bats an eye. They're clapping maniacally, showering her with compliments, never mentioning she was just singing about what might be called, in that rap music, as, being a ho.

It's like a sociology class I took in college. I remember, in my text book, it dissected song lyrics using "Every Breath You Take" by The Police. The book said that without the music, just reading it, it could or would be seen as dangerous. Stalking. But you put it to good music and it becomes a #1 hit, not something the real police need to be breaking down Sting's door about, worrying he has someone's head in his freezer. The book didn't say that head in the freezer part- that was me. But yeah, I don't know. I don't know why it's ok to sing about smoking, drinking, and anonymous sex like it's cool in one genre but not another. What IS it? Is it the more misogynistic lyrics in rap that is considered objectionable? I just see A LOT of kids at country music concerts, having country stars as idols, and that seems normal and dare I say, wholesome. But if a kid is seen at a Kanye show, or someone put their eight year old kid's favorite singer is Eminem, I'm pretty sure they'd get a huge side-eye. Is it the cursing? That whiskey and cigarettes aren't curse words, and they're not actually SAYING the WORD "sex" in the country song?

I'm not judging anyone. I don't care WHAT your kid listens to. I'm sure I get a daily side-eye for E loving Pitbull and even Mumford & Sons. Because in all honestly, a longtime favorite of his is Little Lion Man. He just sings, "I really MESSED it up this time" because he's good like that. And curse words don't bother me. Save for the one time, last year, when he mortified me by telling a friend's kid that F*#k is a bad word and not to say it ever- he's never said another curse word again. We've taught him the difference between words that are ok to say and words that aren't ok for him to say and luckily he gets it. Not all kids would get it but in this case, I can say my kid is pretty mature.

I'm just confused as to why the country music genre gets a pass on risqué lyrics. Maybe it's talked about. I guess I'll go Google. But if they're showing a little girl singing about whiskey and frisky with a country star, I'm guessing no one seems to have a problem with it. Or at least the mainstream majority. I'm not talking about hardcore extreme religious folk. Just the average American parent. Country music, much to my chagrin and surprise, is overtaking the entire country. I'm pretty sure I've read it's the most popular genre of music in the ENTIRE country. We even got a country music station locally in NY/NJ that people are kvelling over. It never even occurred to me that a country music station would be SO wanted up in these parts. Yet, it's hugely popular. And judging by my local friends Facebook pages, I know A LOT of country fans. People I'd have never guessed would've gone country. But I have an equal number of rapping soccer moms too. I just think those rap loving mama's would be judged for letting their kids listen along when the country loving moms would not.

Interesting, to say the least.

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