In a week where international scientists are warning of an impending global catastrophe if we don’t address climate change, we, of course, went batshit crazy over a couple of radio stations deciding not to play Baby It’s Cold Outside.
OK, I’ll follow suit and deal with the environment later.
One thing we seem to have forgotten is that radio stations are free to play what they want. If I owned a radio station I wouldn’t play any hip-hop or The Lumineers … but that’s just me. If the radio stations had just just pulled the song, no one would have been the wiser, but they announced it, likely to get some publicity, and that worked. So here we are.
As we look at Baby It’s Cold Outside through a 2018 lens, it should be noted that the song won an Academy Award in 1949, so those looking at it through a 1949 lens thought it was a pretty good song.
But this kind of thing is nothing new. We’ve been getting twisted out of shape over music for decades.
When the Beatles jumped over the Pond many U.S. radio stations refused to play their music because they were singing about such offensive things as holding hands. Sounds silly now, but it was serious then.
Before the Beatles television stations would only show Elvis Presley from the waist up because his hips were on some pretty darn good gimbals and the Puritanical Police would have none of that. It eventually changed.
To this day, many radio stations, including some right here in Prince George, bleep the word “faggot” out of the Dire Straits song Money for Nothing.
When you start looking at music lyrics and/or musicians, you don’t have to go too far to find something that will upset someone.
Take Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. It’s about bullying and the authority figure (Santa) either doesn’t recognize the bullying or does nothing about it and the victim (Rudolph) doesn’t find redemption in standing up to the tormentors but in appeasing them. Ban Rudolph! Ban Rudolph!
The Police’s Every Breath You Take is a wonderful love song … until you sing it from the perspective of a stalker, then it’s downright creepy.
Speaking of creepy, Radiohead’s only actual hit was Creep, in which the singer talks about how he’s … a creep.
And it was Elton John who sang: “Well there’s no more sleeping when I’m midnight creeping over you.”
Alice Cooper sang: “She’s cool in bed, well she oughta be ‘cause Ethel’s dead.” Now that’s really creepy.
Queen sang about “fat bottomed girls.”
Beyonce sang: “If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it,” perpetuating the age-old matriarchal eye-roller “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”
Madonna became a sensation when she sang, “like a virgin, touched for the very first time,” at the MTV Music Awards, dressed in skimpy wedding dress and writhing around on stage like she was a virgin, touched for the very first time. However, she really got in trouble when she portrayed Jesus as a Black man in her video for Like a Prayer.
And I haven’t even got to rap, hip-hop, thrash metal, death metal and more which seem to have common themes of sexism, misogyny, violence, racism, murder, Satanism and more.
And it’s not just music. When I was in Williams Lake a mental health professional threatened to sue the newspaper for the headline “Midnight Madness at the mall,” which, of course, referred to late night sale. She said the word “madness” was offensive and actually got the mall to change the name of its promotion. Madness, I say.
So, to all those who are offended that radio stations they don’t listen to aren’t playing Baby It’s Cold Outside or whatever else, why not support those artists you like by going out and buying some of their music?
For those who are offended at the lyrics of Baby It’s Cold Outside, be careful because the offended can easily become the offensive.
Since this is about music, I’d like to end off with a couple of lyrics. The first comes from one of the original bad boys of music, Johnny Cash, and perhaps is prescient of the first issue … the environment:
Well, the hives are gone
I’ve lost my bees
The chickens are sleeping
In the willow trees
Cow’s in water up past her knees
Three feet high and rising
How high’s the water, mama?
Four feet high and rising
How high’s the water, papa?
Four feet high and rising
The other lyrics are from those bad boys from Liverpool and sum up the second issue just fine:
“There’s nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.”