S&M and Women in Music

I’m a Top 40 girl, always have been. I lived for those noon-hour sock-hops in high school, and still, I love to dance the night away.

Music played an enormous part in my emotional & social development. Despite the “no boyfriends, no makeup, no parties” rules my Tiger parents enforced, being able to discuss the deeper meanings of Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach or Whitney Houston’s Saving All My Love For You, showed the cooler kids that there was more to me than my flute. In Grade 9, I would spend hours with my ear cocked to my favourite station (CKLG 73), index and middle fingers poised over the PLAY and RECORD buttons on my AM/FM/Cassette player, ready to launch into action should Madonna’s Borderline hit the airwaves. And if I was really in the groove, I would record it perfectly, without any of that inane DJ jabber. I would try to dress like Madonna in her Lucky Star video, carefully so not to draw my parents’ ire and argue with my sisters about which one of us would get to marry John Taylor of Duran Duran. I spent countless hours playing my tapes back and forth, meticulously deciphering the lyrics so that I could sing them gleefully while dancing. Music was my happy place.

Now that I’m much, much older, music still moves me. But there are some who would argue that my tastes haven’t matured in accordance with my age. My husband chides me for my so-called teeny-bopper taste in music. But I beg to difffer – Katy Perry, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Pink, Ke$ha – these ladies sing some of my favourite anthems! Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream has actually propelled me up the legendary Grouse Grind. Sometimes after a hard day of skiing, you will find me rocking out at Buffalo Bills, singing at the top of my lungs (without a microphone, thank goodness!)
You.make.me
Feel like I’m living a
Teen.age.dream
The way you turn me on
I.can’t.sleep
Let’s run away and don’t ever look back

Great music moves me and transforms me into a dancing dervish, and I love how that makes me feel. Better than Botox, anyday.

But now, there is an incredible new song that I love and frankly, I’m aghast. Rihanna’s new S&M song is great dance music. Even the lyrics, while jaw-dropping, showcase a powerful woman Betty Friedan would be proud of, but when Ri-Ri showed up at the Grammys in a sheer dress that showcased her butt crack, I had to begin to worry about the legions of not-yet women she is influencing.

Cause I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it
Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it
Sticks and stones may break my bones,
But chains and whips excite me.

Oh, I love the feeling you bring to me
Oh, you turn me on
It’s exactly what I’ve been yearning for
Give it to me strong
And meet me in my boudoir
Give my body some AHH, AHH, AHHHH,
I like it, like it

While her 42 year old fans might be able to appreciate those powerful (and explicit!) words, I’m uncomfortable with the fact that her younger fans have Rihanna as a role model for what is womanhood. I grew up on Bananarama’s Cruel Summer and The Go-Go’s Our Lips are Sealed, and really, that wasn’t that long ago!

It could be argued that every generation has their controversial star(s), and the controversy only served to make them hotter. We had Madonna who wore a rosary while dancing in front of burning cross in Like A Virgin and my mom had Elvis Presley’s gyrating hips that were deemed too hot for television. Are the overtly sexual lyrics and outfits just part of Rihanna’s global marketing strategy? Or should we be more concerned about Rihanna’s ample assets negatively impacting girls’ self esteem as they go through their formative teenage years? And what does Rihanna and her fellow female artists teach boys about women and sexuality? Suddenly, music doesn’t seem so safe anymore.

I’ve switched to an easy-listening station while I muddle this one through. Although the Kings of Leon are probably talking about the same thing as Rihanna with Sex Is On Fire, at least they keep their pants on.
Love Lucie

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I love you, you love me, let’s go all the way tonight

I hate Barney.

I’m sure that to his fans, the purple dinosaur is a loveable guy, a real regular Joe. But the public broadcast quality taping of his Purpleness and his co-stars playing in perfect diversity, singing his “I love you, you love me” ode to free love in that annoying “my sinuses are all clogged up with goop” nasal twang has always rubbed me the wrong way.

Thank God, even the youngest of my boys have kicked Barney to the curb (along with the Teletubbies, Iggle Piggle and Caillou!) and only mention Barney on rare occasions, but remembering Barney usually compels them to sing (to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle):
Barney is my enemy, Barney is my enemy
Stick a pickle up his nose,
Pull the trigger, there he blows,

You get the picture, we all hate Barney.

Now, finally, I get to rule the iPod in my car again. No more requests for Barney, Raffi or the Pokemon show theme song, just my music. As a woman in the throes of my mid-life crisis, Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream has significant poignancy for me right now, best felt at a volume of 18 or higher. My kids love her too. My kids and I can often be spotted en route to school with the bass booming in my Honda Pilot, screaming the words to her song.

YOU. MAKE. ME.
feel like I’m living a
TEEN. AGE. DREAM.
the way you turn me on
I. CAN’T. SLEEP
let’s run away and don’t ever look back, don’t ever look back!

Until one day, my 4 year old joined in on the chorus,
Let’s go all the way tonight
No regrets. Just love
We can dance, until we die
We’ll be young forever

Let you put your hands on me
In my skintight jeans
Be your Teenage Dream tonight

Whoa, whoa, WHOA! Oh my God, what have I done! Bring back their innocence!

Bring back Barney!!

Love Lucie