A few summers ago I was driving around with the windows down (my shit box car doesn’t have A/C), singing along rather obnoxiously loudly to whatever crappy song was being played on the radio, when Inner Circle’s “Sweat (A La La La La Long)” came on. At first I was like, “Yes! A song from my childhood – I know all the lyrics to this one”, but then, as I was singing, I was like “Wait a minute – is this song about rape?” And uh, yes, it totally is.
“Girl I want to make you sweat
Sweat ’til you can’t sweat no more
And if you cry
I’m gonna push it some more”
I’m sorry, Inner Circle, but that is no way to romance a lady. If I’m sweating and crying, you better get the hell off me. Push it some more and I will punch you.
This got me to thinking about other pop songs that get nonchalantly played on the radio despite their out-there sexual content. The airplay these songs get legitimizes the often-deviant behavior described in the lyrics. I’m no prude (in fact, some say I’m a sex fiend), but this is simply too much.
John Mellencamp’s “Hurts So Good” isn’t about rape but it nonetheless isn’t what I’d call radio-friendly.
“Hurt so good
Come on baby make it hurt so good
Sometimes love don’t feel like it should
You make it hurt so good”
OK, so the song is about rough sex. Nothing particularly wrong with that – but honestly, I’d be 100 per cent weirded out if I heard my kid singing along to it the way I used to, back in the day.
Next up is a song that I’m sure at least a few of you are familiar with. I admittedly love, love, LOVE the Rolling Stones but “Brown Sugar” is fucking creepy. So, so creepy. Why? No reason, really. It’s just about RAPING FEMALE SLAVES.
“Ah brown sugar how come you taste so good
Brown sugar, just like a young girl should
I’m no schoolboy but I know what I like
You should have heard me just around midnight
Ah brown sugar how come you taste so good
Brown sugar, just like a black girl should”
The beginning of the song references cotton fields and slavery, in case you’ve never heard it and are wondering. It also talks about a slaver who is abusing his slaves – it’s a sad story that takes an unexpected, extremely unsettling (and even sadder) turn when Mick jumps in and talks about how he’s raping the girls.
There are other songs that have weird connotations, like Grease’s “Summer Nights” (“Did she put up a fight?“), George Michael’s “Father Figure” (“I will be your father figure, put your tiny hand in mine”), the Rolling Stones’ “Stray Cat Blues” (“I can see that you’re 15 years old, no I don’t want your I.D.”) and Sarah McLachlan’s “Possession”, which was written based on creepy letters a stalker was sending her (the stalker ended up suing her and then committing suicide).
Got any more?