This post is about the use of profanity in music.
It is likely to use words that some people may find offensive; such offence is not intentional, albeit such offence is possible considering the potential demographic of my readership.
If you find the use of profanity offensive or even just distasteful, you may want to skip this post. There are plenty of other posts that I have written without the use of profanity but this isn’t one of them.
Hopefully, like me, you aren’t turned off by so called “bad” language.
Some people say that the use of profanity, in conversation, is a sign of a poor education or an unimaginative mind – these people have obviously not encountered some of the profanity that I have. In my opinion, profanity can be an artform; not least the use of profanity itself.
From the choice of profanity to the timing and delivery, there is a lot of skill to the proper use of profanity. Waiting to the count of three or four before appending the word “cock” or even “cunt” to a final statement is the verbal equivalent of delivering the killing blow to an argument – or at least teabagging an already defeated opponent.
I appreciate that some people don’t want to hear profanity and I am careful to curb my language around children but I have to admit, I can and do make use of profanity in day to day speech an awful lot.
I was going to title this Top X Uses of Profanity in Popular Music but I realised that I am discovering new profane tracks all the time and that my musical taste isn’t necessarily what you would class as “popular”.
It was almost a decade later, when access to the internet broadened all of our horizons, that I discovered censorship had gone much further than adhering black and white stickers to obscure an album’s artwork.
F is for Fighting,
R is for Red, ancestor’s blood in battle’s they shed,
E we elect them,
E we Eject them, in the land of the free and the home of the brave,
D for your dying,
O your overture,
M is for Money, you know what that cures;
This spells out FREEDOM,
it means nothing to me,
as long as there’s a P.M.R.C.
That last M was also sung as “M they will cover your grave with manure” earlier in the song but I prefer the second, less scatological, rendition. Now I love a good acrostic or acronym as much as the next person but for years I was baffled as to what the song meant by the phrase “as long as there’s a P.M.R.C.”.
Access to the internet taught me that the P.M.R.C. was the Parents Music Research Centre. These were the douches that instigated the practice of ruining awesome album artwork with those tedious black and white stickers!
These members of America’s political right claimed to be “frightened” by the graphical violent and sexual content they perceived in some of the music of the day.
When the debate eventually hit the courts the P.M.R.C. cited a handful of albums whose lyrical content they interpreted as having an inappropriate content.
Whilst a number of the musicians of the day defended the proposal, using a defence along the lines of “Beauty” or in this case “Profanity is in the Eye of the Beholder”, the P.M.R.C. won out and we have those little black and white warnings on albums to this day.
I guess this explains why Tipper Gore gets the abuse she does in so many tracks through the eighties and nineties.
What surprises me though, is the lack of parental advisory labels on just any old profane track.
Maybe I am listening to music that predates the labelling motion but I’m fairly sure that some of my favourite instances of profanity in music are not labelled. Maybe the track has to be made up of truly diabolical content to be labelled.
Certainly the label seems to be mainly awarded mainly to hip-hop, rap and death metal these days.
Billy’s joined the National Front,
He Always was a little runt,
Got his hands in the air with the other cunts,
You gotta humanize yourself…
Now to my mind this is a perfectly acceptable use of the “C” word. It certainly wasn’t hidden from me in my youth, although I’ll accept that I had a good enough upbringing to not notice the word in common day parlance – let alone the works of one of the world’s greatest musical institutions.
This isn’t the only Police track to contain the “C” word and to be fair, I haven’t picked up on any of the other classic musical profanities.
Over the next week or so, I would like to list some of my favourite “profane” tracks. I may do so in one large post or I may break it up into smaller single posts.
Honestly, I have an almost childish appreciation of profanity; that being said, many of these tracks stand on their own merit – both lyrically and musically.