It’s easy to sing along and dance to songs that have a catchy beat or funky rhymes. It’s easy to get lost in the sound and let it absorb you whole. It’s easy to let your body move in electric motions and your voice catch on a stampede of lyrics.
However, if you take a moment to step outside the glowing disco ball, you’ll realize it’s not always so easy to stop…and listen to the words you’re dancing to.
One such songs has lyrics included about giving oral sex. Flo Rida’s top hit “Whistle” includes the lyrics:
Girl I’m gonna show you how to do it
And we start real slow
You just put your lips together
And you come real close
Can you blow my whistle baby, whistle baby
Here we go
I don’t know about you, but I really doubt he’s talking about “referees,” like he joked about to MTV’s Rob Markman in an interview in 2012. I don’t know how one could take it any other way, and I’d like to think I’m a pretty creative person. I mean, I guess one could mean a nose, but that might get awkward if you have to sneeze.
Jokes aside, some artists have an even more direct way of showing what it is they really want to get across as a message.
Take, for example, the seemingly romantic and sweet Christmas song, ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ by Frank Loesser. Take a minute to listen to the lyrics, which are pretty much all about a women trying to leave and a man trying to get her to stay. Guess who wins?
Throughout the song, the female sings the first part and in response, the male sings the next line. In the example provided below, it’s not exactly something you “warm up” to the idea of.
I ought to say no, no, no – Mind if I move in closer?
At least I’m gonna say that I tried – What’s the sense in hurting my pride?
I really can’t stay – Baby don’t hold out
Ah, but it’s cold outside
This was in 1944! Granted, not all songs are derogatory toward women. However, that being said, there is another pertinent issue I’d like to bring up. Some artists use the n -word in their songs. Personally, I don’t use the word, but I’m concerned about who can use it appropriately, if anyone. In one sense, I guess I can understand in part that African Americans and black Americans can use it to unite, but another part of me worries that others are taking the word and trying to make it “normal,” or worse, use the word in racist tones.
For example, although I really doubt he was a racist himself, John Lennon used the word in his song, ‘Woman is the N____ of the World’:
Woman is the n____ of the world, yes she is.
If you don’t believe me, take a look at one you’re with.
Woman is the slave of slaves.
Ah yeah, better scream about it.
Now I’m a woman. I identify as she, her and hers. And let me tell you, I don’t feel the way described above. Yeah sure, I deal with bullcrap on occasion, but I don’t think what I live with is comparable to the life of a slave. I just don’t.
Granted, I’m an independent woman of the 21st century, and yes, many women make less than their male counterparts; however, I do not, I repeat, I do not feel justified in saying my life is like that of someone who experienced slavery first-hand.
In my opinion, the n-word can both unite and divide people, depending on many things, including the person’s culture and who’s delivering the message and how it can historically be connotated. In the most literal terms, it means black.
I’m not black, so Lennon’s song isn’t correct in my mind. I understand he was trying to be symbolic, but I just don’t see that as a valid connection.
I feel like it’s not right to just throw a word of such significant weight around like it’s pure air and poof, it doesn’t matter because, it does matter. Many words and phrases are just thrown with the ease of a boomerang.
However, once they come spiralling back, there’s velocity attached, heat attached. and the question remains, where does all that heat go?
Dorothy England can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org