We are a filthy nation. Three songs currently in the Billboard Top 10 feature the most vile of vile words. That’s right, the F dash dash dash word!
Cee Lo’s song is a big hit in this house. Dad prefers the original version, not because it’s dirty but because it’s a hell of a soul song. Mom enjoys the original, the radio version, and the Glee version, which featured Gwyneth Paltrow on vocals. Because of that, each time we hear it the girls will shout, “This is the song from mom’s show!!” C. thinks that Cee Lo is the kid in the wheelchair.
Anyway, none of this bothers me. Yet. I listened to a lot of fithy music in high school, even tricking my step-dad into buying Too $hort’s Born to Mack album for me because the record stores in San Leandro, CA wouldn’t sell it to anyone under 18. It’s just a word.
But get back to me in a couple years, when M. is old enough to begin hearing some of the explicit versions of these songs and accidentally drops an F-bomb in front of her parents or sisters. I’d like to think I will be like my mom, and figure the values I’ve taught my daughters will help them to understand, too, that it is just a word. I’d like to think I will continue to listen to music that is aimed at much younger audiences and I will at least tolerate whatever nonsense my girls are listening to.
Don’t hold me to that, though.
Mr. Green, Mr. Iglesias and Pink got their competitive advantage by making a relatively early breach of pop’s (thinly maintained, mostly illusory) decorum. But any kind of bandwagon effect is going to get boring fast, even if radio stations never play that scary word. Deploying the f-bomb also defuses it; give or take a few copycats in the months to come, it’s going to sound about as potent as a popgun.