Entertainment Music

Friday 15 November 2019

Songs with inappropriate lyrics that probably would not be written now

Times have changed, but some of these problematic songs will live on forever.

Some songs with inappropriate lyrics probably would not be written now (PA)
Some songs with inappropriate lyrics probably would not be written now (PA)

By Lucy Mapstone, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

John Legend and Kelly Clarkson have recorded an updated version of classic Christmas song Baby, It’s Cold Outside, after its lyrics were deemed controversial in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

But the festive tune, which was originally written in 1944, is not the only track that is outdated now thanks to inappropriate themes or words.

Here are 10 other popular songs that have problematic lyrics:

Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams featuring T.I.

The 2013 pop track that became popular at parties and topped the UK charts is considered one of the most controversial songs of the decade thanks to its sexist overtones, with some critics suggesting the lyrics referred to non-consensual sex.

Despite its popularity, the song was banned at several universities and was the subject of campaigns from women’s rights groups after some said the lyrics were derogatory, sexist and promoted a culture of date rape.

Lyrics:
I know you want it,
But you’re a good girl,
The way you grab me,
Must wanna get nasty.

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Robin Thicke (Ian West/PA)

Good Morning, School Girl – Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and others

A classic blues standard that was first written and recorded in 1937 by American blues harmonica player Sonny Boy Williamson, the song has been re-recorded and tweaked over the years, including by Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and Rod Stewart.

While much-loved and highly regarded, its lyrics could be deemed inappropriate today.

Lyrics:
Good morning, little schoolgirl
Good morning, little schoolgirl
Can I go home with you?
Tell your mother and your father,
I once was a schoolboy too.

Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen – Neil Sedaka

American singer Neil Sedaka’s 1961 song sees the narrator sing to a childhood friend who is celebrating her 16th birthday. She has shed her tomboy ways to become a beautiful, young woman, and he now wants to be romantic with her.

But there’s a fair chance the song would not be approved to be released in 2019.

Lyrics:
Tonight’s the night I’ve waited for
Because you’re not a baby anymore
You’ve turned into the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen,
Happy birthday sweet sixteen

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Neil Sedaka (Max Nash/PA)

In The Summertime – Mungo Jerry

A summer classic that is often played at BBQs and garden parties year in, year out, includes some lyrics that modern listeners may find troubling.

Released in the 1970s by the British rock group, the single appears to give the thumbs-up to drink-driving, and also to treating women differently regarding consent depending on their financial backgrounds.

Lyrics:
When the weather’s fine
You got women, you got women on your mind
Have a drink, have a drive
Go out and see what you can find
If her daddy’s rich take her out for a meal
If her daddy’s poor just do what you feel

Run For Your Life – The Beatles

The late John Lennon once described Run For Your Life as his “least favourite Beatles song”. The rather lyrically violent track, included on the Fab Four’s 1965 album Rubber Soul, was inspired by a lyric from Elvis Presley’s song Baby Let’s Play House.

Lennon told Rolling Stone in 1970: “There was a line on it – I used to like specific lines from songs – ‘I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man’ – so I wrote it around that but I didn’t think it was that important.”

The Beatles’ track has received very mixed reviews since its release.

Lyrics:
Well, you know that I’m a wicked guy
And I was born with a jealous mind
And I can’t spend my whole life
Trying just to make you toe the line

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The Beatles (PA Wire/PA)

Brown Sugar – The Rolling Stones

In 2015, American magazine Vulture said that The Rolling Stones’ song Brown Sugar “is gross, sexist, and stunningly offensive toward black women”.

Sir Mick Jagger was inspired by his former partner Marsha Hunt to write the 1971 track and, while the song is considered a timeless classic, it has long been a subject of debate and controversy because of its topics, which include slavery, rape, drugs and sadomasochism.

Sir Mick is now reported to change some of the lyrics to the song when he performs it live.

Lyrics:
Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields,
Sold in the market down in New Orleans,
Scarred old slaver knows he’s doing alright,
Hear him whip the women just around midnight.

Katy Perry – Ur So Gay

The US pop star has previously been accused by critics and fans of being homophobic and for “boyfriend skewering” in her song Ur So Gay, which featured on her debut EP of the same name in 2007.

Perry has previously said that the song – in which she repeatedly slates the subject for their appearance, weight and clothes and sings “You’re so gay and you don’t even like boys” – is about a “metrosexual man”.

Lyrics:
You’re so sad maybe you should buy a happy meal
You’re so skinny you should really super size the deal
Secretly you’re so amused
That nobody understands you
I’m so mean ’cause I cannot get you outta your head
I’m so angry ’cause you’d rather MySpace instead

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Katy Perry (Danny Lawson/PA)

Money For Nothing – Dire Straits

A much-loved classic rock song with a memorable guitar riff… and lyrics that appear to be homophobic? The repeated use of the anti-gay slur “little faggot” in the second verse has left a sour taste in listeners’ mouths since it was released in 1985.

In 2011 the unedited version of the song was deemed unacceptable for air play on private Canadian radio stations, as it breached the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ code of ethics. However, the ban was later lifted.

Lyrics:
See the little faggot with the earring and the make up
Yeah buddy that’s his own hair
That little faggot got his own jet airplane
That little faggot he’s a millionaire

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