Saturday, January 24, 2009

If U Seek Not-So-Hidden Meanings

Every once in a while, a musician comes out with a song that causes trouble getting airplay on the radio because of questionable taste in lyrics. The Kingsmen song, Louie Louie, was one such song, even thought he published lyrics were quite innocent. As sung, they were a bit unintelligible, so many people thought they were risque, and many stations refused to play the record.

But it goes back further than that. Benny Bell, a Jewish-American comedian recorded songs with double entendre back in the 1940s, and had somewhat of a revival in the 1970s when Dr. Demento featured Bell's Shaving Cream on his show. The song took off, and was a hit all over again.

There was no hidden meanings in a few other I recall from my days in radio. Back when Elton John came out with the song, The Bitch is Back, Elton is belting out "I'm a bitch, I'm a bitch, oh the bitch is back", but the management at WCUM would not allow us DJs to announce the title of the song. If we wanted to, we could say "The Witch is Back".

Then there was the Pink Floyd song Money, which became a huge hit, but contained the words "bull shit". The record company issued a sanitized version for airplay that stretched out the syllable "bull" to fill the entire phrase. Of course, it no longer rhymed with the previous line "Money, it's a hit".

The most blatant song I recall was Star Star by The Rolling Stones from the album Goat's Head Soup. The song was about a groupie who, shall we say, was quite affectionate with the stars. The song repeated a version of the big, bad "f" word over and over in the chorus.

So now, we come to sweet, innocent Britney Spears (ha ha). Her album, Circus, has a song titled If U Seek Amy. Clear Channel Communications, one of the largest radio ownership groups, is playing a sanitized version of this song. What is wrong with it? Well, just say the lyrics out loud. The chorus has the line, "All of the boys, and all of the girls, are begging to if you seek Amy." Cute, huh?

This all is reminiscent of the false stories about Soupy Sales working dirty jokes into his children's television program in the 1960s.