Sexist, demeaning and deeply inappropriate lyrics have been embedded in pop songs for decades. Ashley Davies has rounded up some of the best and worst.
Remember when Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams released that catchy wee number about the blurred lines surrounding sexual consent? And how Thicke seemed to have been taken by surprise that millions of people thought it was all a bit, you know, rapey?
Well, it sure wasn’t the first song laced with WTF: pop has a rich tradition of smuggling unacceptable shit inside some damn fine grooves. Here are some of the worst offenders.
Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon by Neil Diamond
Oh man, this one’s as creepy as a massage from your granddad. Our Neil is frustrated and angry about being ‘misunderstood’ by society, particularly as the object of his desire will soon reach the age of consent.
“Girl, you’ll be a woman soon
Please, come take my hand
Girl, you’ll be a woman soon
Soon you’ll need a man.”
Interesting story: after serenading a woman at one of his concerts, Neil Diamond turned to the bloke she was sitting with and said: “She’s ready for you now.” #sickinmymouth. I still love him though.
Young Girl by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap
It’s hard to work out whether or not this is worse than Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon. On the plus side, he’s trying to resist his revolting urges towards an underage girl. But he’s also kind of blaming her for being alluring, and using the old “but she looked 18, your honour” defence. “You led me to believe that you were old enough to give me love, now it hurts to know the truth.”
“Beneath your perfume and makeup
You’re just a baby in disguise
And though you know
That it is wrong to be alone with me
That come on look is in your eyes, oh
Young girl, get out of my mind
My love for you is way out of line
Better run, girl
You’re much too young, girl.”
Come Live With Me by Heaven 17
Oh dear, here’s another icky one about an older guy having feelings for a teenager. Except he’s taken it much further.
“I was thirty-seven
You were seventeen
You were half my age
The youth I’d never seen
Unlikely people meeting in a dream
Heaven only knows the way it should have been.”
“Dinner parties followed
And all my age implies
My friends began to talk
I began to realise
If half the things they say
Are quarter true of me
Then how can I eclipse the youth
You gave to set me free.”
My Sharona by The Knack
Oh God, there’s more. I used to love this song, and when someone recently pointed out this grim line it’s really bloody spoiled it for me. Gutted.
“Never gonna stop, give it up, such a dirty mind
I always get it up, for the touch of the younger kind.”
A Little Bit More by Dr Hook
Ostensibly a love song, what this is really saying is: “You don’t want to have any more sex – in fact, you’re probably a bit sore – but I want some more so we will be having some more. You know it’s because I love you.”
“When your body’s had enough of me
And I’m layin’ flat out on the floor,
When you think I’ve loved you all I can
I’m gonna love you a little bit more.”
Please don’t, Dr Hook.
Wives and Lovers by Andy Williams
This smoothie is crooning some solid gold advice to wives (addressed here as “little girl”) about how their husbands will definitely cheat on or leave them if they don’t have perfect hair and makeup at all times. Women: it is your duty to be decorous!
His top tips include running into the fella’s arms the moment he comes home from work: “Wear something pretty, something you’d wear to go to the city” and basically create the right shagging conditions for him.
“Day after day, there are girls at the office
And men will always be men.
Don’t send him off with your hair still in curlers
You may not see him again.”
Under My Thumb by The Rolling Stones
This song’s trunk is overloaded with funk, but is lyrically sinister, man. It’s about a once-confident woman whose boyfriend has ground her down into a position of cowering submission. It’s a bit like a recent plotline from The Archers, but easier to dance to. Good friends of mine had it as the first dance at their wedding.
“It’s down to me
The way she does just what she’s told
The change has come
She’s under my thumb.”
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Ashley Davies is an Edinburgh-based writer and editor and the human behind animal satire website thelabreport.co.uk.