Sunday, October 9, 2011

Singing Ourselves Into Immorality

A friend passed this article on to me (I lived for some time just south of SUNY Albany).  It is an interesting article.  I quote the first two paragraphs here but you can read the whole thing at the Atlantic Wire.

Get your heads out of the gutters, America's musicians. We always knew that with all your nipple-showing and lesbian-kissing and crotch-grabbing that you're obsessed with sex, and today we have the science to back it up: "Approximately 92% of the 174 songs that made it into the [Billboard] Top 10 in 2009 contained reproductive messages," says SUNY Albany psychology professor Dawn R. Hobbs in Evolutionary Psychology. That's right--"reproductive messages," our newest favorite euphemism.

Those 174 top-selling songs were analyzed in order to determine how many sexy messages they contained in any of 18 sexy categories, including "arousal," "sexual prowess," and "genitalia." There was an average of 10.49 sex-related phrases per song, with R&B being head-and-shoulders(-and-maybe-some-other-body-parts) above the two other musical genres analyzed, country and pop. "Sexual appeal" was the most popular theme among both R&B and pop songs, while "commitment" (yawn) was most prevalent in country music.

Living now just north and a bit west of Music City USA, the home of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the country recording mecca of the world, I have long thought that country is much more in tune the ordinary values of commitment and faithfulness.  That is not to say it does not speak mournfully of the break ups and infidelity that brings such commitments to an end.  It does.  But instead of celebrating such break ups or ignoring commitment entirely, country does expect that love will bring and keep you together over the long haul.  The musical genres more in tune with the youth in America have no such illusions.  Here are the statistics to back it up.

But you cannot blame modern music.  The appeal of "reproductive messages" (gee whiz, what kind of phrase is that) is ancient.  That's the trend that not only dated back to 1959 in American music, the study found, but one that goes all the way back to the classy days of opera.  Sex sells.  The more sex, the more you sell.  Why, even M&Ms (the candy as well as the artist) uses a little sex to sell.  Which comes as no surprise to those who speak of the first fall out of the fall being a problem with the gift of sex.  We tried covering it up to make the guilty feelings go away.  We tried running away to hide from the guilt.  In the end the only real path available was confession and absolution.  At least until we came to terms with our depravity and decided that when you got it, flaunt it.


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Rock and Roll itself is a euphemism for sex in the backseat of a car (which then starts to rock and roll). And yep, it goes back to opera, to poetry and the like. The hyper-sexuality of entertainment is nothing new -- a lot of it is that we tend to assume this is normal and how things should be.

Janis Williams said...

I'm think the CCM industry should have been analyzed for subliminal 'reproductive messages.' Every time I hear CCM (accidentally) I am shocked by the beat of some of the songs. Go back to the 70s and 80s (and yes Rev. Brown you're right about rock-n'-roll) The musicians then were unafraid to call it what it was - music for making love (not the phrase they used).

If I hear another female CCM artist singing 'Jesus is my boyfriend' music and sounding like she's in the middle of performing something beside a song, I might toss some cookies.

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

What? You mean to tell me no one would buy a Shania Twain CD if she were overweight, wore glasses and had stringy hair and bad teeth? You're telling me young Christians go to contemporary Christian concerts because the performers are cute and pretty? Say it ain't so Joe.