From Rolling Stones' 'Brown Sugar' to Dire Straits' 'Money For Nothing': 5 controversial lyrics that need tackling
As BLM protests continue, as we near the end of Pride Month and as the world beckons for change, some songs need to be looked at for their lyrics
Today's Pandemic Playlist isn't to entertain, my fellow music lovers.
With the many concerns the world has been hit by in 2020, we are also experiencing a time of change. That being said, it is important that our universal language becomes more fitting to the now and inclusive of every person without discrimination. Although historical in their own right, certain media output that is tethered to troublesome eras in time still leaves traces of potentially damaging speech that the world should let go of. In short, communication of all kinds should be healthy to a listener rather than harming a listener: humanity needs this right now!
While we respect the artists mentioned in this article for their art and hard work, the lyrics in the following songs need to be addressed for their nature. Today's Pandemic Playlist is a hard pill to swallow and a side-step from entertainment, but we support equality. Here are five songs with problematic lyrics that need to be tackled.
The Rolling Stones - 'Brown Sugar'
With lyrics such as "Gold Coast slave ship bound for cotton fields. Sold in the market down in New Orleans. Scarred old slaver knows he's doin' all right. Hear him whip the women just around midnight" and the chorus, "Brown Sugar, how come you taste so good. Brown Sugar, just like a young girl should," it is clear why this song goes on the list. With its outright references to raping slaves and racist tone among others, 'Brown Sugar' is certainly not acceptable and marks a low point in The Rolling Stones discography. Even frontman Mick Jagger admitted these lyrics aged incredibly poorly; in recent years, he’s changed the words when he performs the song live.
Band Aid - 'Do They Know It’s Christmas?'
While intentions can be good, generalizing is not often the best tool to use when dealing with a problem. Released in 1984, the culturally insensitive 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' gets the lyrics, “And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time. The greatest gift they'll get this year is life. Where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow. Do they know it's Christmas time at all?” Band Aid is a charity supergroup whose support includes raising money to alleviate Ethiopian famine with the proceeds from this song. The only problem here is that 'Do They Know It's Christmas' clumps an entire continent as being void of vegetation, water, or joy.
Listen to 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' here
Dire Straits - 'Money for Nothing'
Another example of an artist whose intentions may not have been to harm any particular group, but as mentioned earlier, universal language beckons for change. "See the little f****t with the earring and the makeup? Yeah buddy, that's his own hair. That little f****t got his own jet airplane. That little f****t, he's a millionaire" are lyrics in this track. While frontman Mark Knopfler sings in first-person of a character who bemoans the lavish lifestyle of rockstars, that word should cease to exist entirely: it is still hurtful to gay people because of the history of hate it conjures up. The good news with this song, though, is that the slur was omitted from the band's compilation.
Rod Stewart 'Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)'
With alarming numbers in cases of sexual abuse of minors, we want to avoid possible inspiration for a potential pervert, so this song is: simply put, wrong (we mean no disrespect to Rod Stewart). These problematic lyrics include “Don’t say a word, my virgin child, just let your inhibitions run wild." As if those lyrics aren't cringing enough, in the music video Stewart woos a faceless young woman, leading her up to his bedroom before she says in French, “I’m a little scared. What is my mother going to say?”
Guns N' Roses - 'One In A Million'
Guns N' Roses left the song "One In A Million" off the reissue of their 1988 debut EP, 'G N' R Lies'. With lyrics such as "Police and n****rs, that's right. Get outta my way. Don't need to buy none of your Gold chains today" and "Immigrants and f*****s. They make no sense to me," the song was controversial even when it was released. Singer Axl Rose and guitarist Slash defended the song when it came out, but Slash later said, "We collectively decided that it just didn’t have any place in that box set."
Listen to 'One In A Million' here
Pandemic Playlist is a daily list of songs that will keep you entertained instead of feeling drained while you're isolated at home. Look out for a fresh selection of great tunes from MEAWW to refresh your mood every day!