Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Censor Sensibility: The Scourge of the Radio Edit

As I hope I have made exhaustively clear, I am not into censorship. You will not find censored music on Vertigo Shtick in any of its forms unless it is there to prove a point, and that means no "clean" or "radio edits," no matter how official.


Today, some of the major internet information companies are blocking out all or portions of their websites to protest and raise awareness of two bills currently before Congress - the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House - which if passed would essentially allow for censorship of the World Wide Web. This, of course, would be very bad in countless ways and then countless more and countless more beyond that. Before you read any further, please make sure you've signed Google's petition and have contacted your members of Congress to tell them they'd better not fuck this shit up like they've been doing everything else lately, courtesy of Wikipedia, who may be unavailable for 24 hours (believe me, I have been feeling the pain like a chainsaw wound) but will still look up your House representative and your two Senators and link you right to their "Contact" pages. Unless you live in Washington, DC. Or Puerto Rico. Or anywhere else in the world besides the 50 United States - which doesn't mean you're off the hook, you know! All the web companies that mean anything are based in the States, so if the United States censors the internet, you're all DOOOOOOMED. No Wikipedia. No Tumblr. No Facebook as we know it. No YouTube.


So, now that you've harassed your Congresspeople (as you should) and signed petitions and figured out what all this SOPA talk is actually about today (you're welcome), we can move on to music. Regardless of Congress' decision on these bills, pop music still gets censored quite a lot, especially anything that gets released to radio as a single (which is most of the pop music to which the general public is exposed). This censorship ranges from the begrudgingly understandable (the major pop radio stations that I know from personal experience tend to dominate the musical consciousnesses of children and teenagers probably don't need to be blaring "Ass so fat, all these bitches' pussies is throbbin'") to the bizarre and/or annoying (I still can't get my head around why Panic! At the Disco's "Haven't you people ever heard of closing the goddamn door?" ("I Write Sins Not Tragedies") was edited to remove "God" but keep "damn") to the baffling and/or ludicrous (radio stations in the usually forward-looking United Kingdom so objected to the title of Rihanna's rather PG-13 "S&M" that the single was released there as "Come On").

Lately, a few brave (or supposedly brave) artists have challenged the status quo by releasing singles with banned expletives right in their very title - and some of them were actually very very good (Cee Lo Green's "Fuck You" is the shining example). Of course these singles were censored via "clean radio edits," as usual, but because the alterations were apparent right in the title, it got easier for us all to really notice how ridiculous much of this censorship really becomes, and how much of an effect it can have on the music itself. Pink's message in the #2 single "Fuckin' Perfect" (or "Perfect") certainly got across just fine with or without the modifier, but Cee Lo's massive single was reduced from brilliant kiss-off to teenage pop fluff that you might expect from some boy band formed through a reality tv show, or the Glee cast. And really, regardless of what you might think of Enrique Iglesias' pop music qualifications, who out there would rather hear him say to you "tonight I'm loving you" than "tonight I'm fucking you?" Seriously? That's like fantasizing about butterfly kissing with Pamela Anderson.

Well, you're in luck. In honor of this day of protest, I've put together a nice little playlist for you containing a selection of songs that suffered this kind of drastic titular disfigurement when released as singles...as well as a few other relevant selections. Revel in the raw, NSFW, uncensored glory of Nicki Minaj and Big Sean's treatise on the derriere; enjoy Snoop Dogg's filthy yet fantastically clever sexual puns on the original version of David Guetta's recent "Sweat"; feel the cathartic effect of replacing "bop your head like me, apl.de." (as in apl.de.ap, the Pea who looks like will.i.am but isn't) with "bop your head like epilepsy"; rejoice as you discover (or re-discover) the sweet demure blonde Swedish pixie Robyn's gorgeously filthy mouth; and enjoy one last chance to laugh at the irony of Christina Aguilera singing "it keeps gettin' better" before her ball-crushingly amazing comeback blitz this year likely holds in store.

But Britney, before you go, there's something I want you to have:


"But I thought the FCC dropped it into the ocean in the end!"

Well, baby, I went down and got it for you. On YouTube.

A Fucking Badass Uncensored Pop Playlist, Bitch
 

1. "Don't Fucking Tell Me What To Do" Robyn (Body Talk, 2010)

Now this wasn't released as a single, naturally. But it was my favorite song of 2010 and it spells out the theme pretty nicely. Besides, who's going to complain about a little extra Robyn?  

2. "Fuckin' Perfect" Pink (Greatest Hits...So Far!!!, 2011)

I don't love this song; I don't even really like it. I thought "Raise Your Glass" (with its exquisitely placed "aw, fuck" comic bit), the other single Pink released to support her first hits compilation, did the "It Gets Better" power-to-the-masses freaks and geeks unite anthem better and sufficiently. I will admit that a) I'm pleased that it did not manage to hit the top of the Hot 100 as its predecessor had, and b) in this instance I actually feel that the expletive use is gratuitous and showy.  

3. "Tonight (I'm Fuckin' You)" Enrique Iglesias feat. Ludacris (Euphoria, 2010)

This song is horrendous. The video is supposedly somewhat steamy for a pop video (but I recommend skipping it and watching Kelly Rowland's "Motivation" instead...or "Erotica" if you're really serious). Enrique Iglesias and his Dr. Luke-produced cookie-cutter pop couldn't interest me less. But GOD I would fuck Enrique Iglesias.

I MEAN COME ON
4. "Fuck You" Cee Lo Green (The Lady Killer, 2010)

Much has been said about this Grammy-winning masterpiece (which also peaked at #2 on the Hot 100, by the by). On the radio it was "Forget You." (Lame.) Glee covered it (fortunately by way of Gwyneth Paltrow). Cee Lo and Gwyneth sang it at the Grammys in a full-costume tribute to Elton John's peacock-clad appearance on The Muppet Show. It's basically amazing.

5. "Dance (A$$) Remix" Big Sean feat. Nicki Minaj (Finally Famous, 2011)

"And bust this pussy open on the islands of Waikikiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii... *gasp*" 'Nuff said.  

6. "S&M" Rihanna (Loud, 2010)



Not one of Rihanna's best moments (I would say "not one of Ester Dean's best moments," but I can't think of a ton of better ones from the "shocking" formula songwriter), and it needed a heart-stopping cameo by Britney Spears to push it to the peak of the Hot 100. But when the Brits made it the center of one of the most ridiculous bits of censorship controversy in recent years, they made that damn Rihanna into a martyr again for us good guys. Once again. I mean, come on.

7. "Brand New Bitch" Anjulie (Single, 2011)

I've talked with Anjulie about "Brand New Bitch," the hot dance hit with the dash of LA Riots that climbed to #3 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart during the recent period of Rihanna/Calvin Harris domination, and the official story seems to be that "bitch" is the original lyric. But because the preceding lyric is "turning up the beat so sick," despite there being plenty of good available rhymes for "bitch," I retain my hunch that here might be the rare example of some reverse-censorship. Oh well, for a badass singer like Anjulie, it's all for the better.  

8. "Sexy Bitch" David Guetta feat. Akon (One Love, 2010)

Okay, people. This is an egregious example of censorship completely ruining the entire premise of a song. Akon tries to sing the praises of a woman who he feels is of merit far beyond the typical derogatory chauvinism offered to women in hip-hop: "I'm tryin' to find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful." Then comes the punch line: "Damn, she's a sexy bitch." "Sexy bitch" is probably the most flattering of disrespectful praise toward women. Get it? Funny! "Sexy chick," on the other hand, is a) rather less flattering, yet b) just as disrespectful, if not more so. One has to wonder how much impact this doctored anthem of accidental anti-feminism has had on David Guetta's reputation, which, you might remember, isn't exactly on par with Susan B. Anthony's).

9. "Keeps Gettin' Better" Christina Aguilera (Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits, 2008)

I include this for two reasons, one direct and one tenuous. The direct one is that I remember driving down Sunset Boulevard one Sunday morning during the brief radio run of Xtina's Linda Perry-penned "Hey look, I have a hits compilation coming out, and it's only at Target so I'm basically fucked, please please someone buy it" single (which I actually kind of liked) and I almost hit a fire hydrant when I heard "Some days I'm a super-*bleep*" on the American Top 40 Countdown. This, mind you, is the same countdown on which I once listened to Rick Dees introduce Meredith Brooks' "Bitch" (also peaked at #2! Unintentional theme!) several weeks in a row. I was ridiculously perturbed, and have been longing to right the wrong somehow. The tenuous reason is that Christina Aguilera will always have a pedestal in my Hall of Prudishness Protestors for her sadly misguided but nevertheless heartwarming attempt at outdoing Madonna (orgy in a Church! Liquid rubber-looking stuff! Really intense fake lashes!) with "Not Myself Tonight," only to be outdone in her laughable inability to outdo Madonna by the even more laughable out-Madonnaing ineptness of Lady Gaga.  

10. Sexual Eruption (Fyre Dept. Remix)" Snoop Dogg feat. Robyn (Single, 2008)

"Cuddle up, little pup," Robyn sings, "Momma's gonna sex you up." (Get it? Snoop Dogg! Pup! Momma! Oedipus! Freud!) The first of what we can only pray will be many Snoop/Robyn collabs (there have thus far been two, "U Should Know Better" from Body Talk being the second) may seem a natural pairing these days, but at the time it was about as outlandish as if Ellie Goulding had actually collaborated with Bassnectar directly on that "Lights" dubstep remix.  

11. "Wet (David Guetta Remix)" Snoop Dogg (Doggumentary, 2011)

If you've ever listened to "Sweat," the thoroughly adequate track from David Guetta's Nothing But the Beat on which the ever-welcome Snoop Dogg guest stars (and, like Nicki Minaj, sings!), by which I mean paid attention to the words coming from Snoop's mouth, you are likely as befuddled as I was by all the half-formed puns, unfinished sentences, and nonsensical metaphors. If so, "Wet" will be extremely cathartic for you.  

12. "Let's Get Retarded" The Black Eyed Peas (Elephunk, 2004)

This one may toe the line some might call a loophole to my whole anti-censorship stance, which is that while I strongly oppose third parties from altering art to suit...well, any sensitivities or supposed concern for propriety (or whatever), I nonetheless believe there is a difference between the things one should be allowed to say and the things one might choose to say, or more so the things one might perhaps consider not to say. "Let's Get It Started" worked just fine for my college classmates and peers and I in 2004 at the 18-and-over dance clubs and pre-Spotify/Pandora fraternity parties, thank you (except that apl.de lyric, but that really only stuck out in comparison to the original lyric, of which I was ignorant for several years). I happen to be of the opinion that "retarded" is the equivalent of "that's gay," and am glad at least that censors (or a label's pre-emptive good taste? Nahh, who am I kidding?) have on occasion acted out of somewhat commendable social concern rather than Puritan self-righteousness.  

13. "Human Nature" Madonna (Bedtime Stories, 1994)

This song is, without question, my theme song. Everything about it pinpoints my core belief, my mantra, my most basic personal philosophy. It's also a good way to close a set called "A Fucking Badass Uncensored Pop Playlist, Bitch." And I'm not sorry.

Listen on

AddThis

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Real Time Web Analytics