Justin Bieber lately you get a temporary pass from me buddy… at least until the Miley Cyrus phenomenon, machine or whatever it is ends. I’m hoping it ends soon, for all of our sakes. My new favorite person to scrutinize for irresponsible actions is Billy Ray’s daughter, and rightfully so. Basically, all the criticism and jeering is justified. Miley Cyrus is going through a ‘shock’ phase to get attention and the saddest part is that it is working and that is sad. I understand she needs attention to give her a decent stab at a comeback, particularly after Can’t Be Tamed was pretty tame in sales from start to finish, but still, she’s taken it to a new level.
Sex always garners attention, so Cyrus has decided to sex up her image. Fine, seems the natural course of action for any teen star… good or bad. Add some hip-hop culture to the mix and now Miley has ‘swag’ (“We Can’t Stop”). Perform given breakout single at VMAs, wear provocative clothing, scar children’s minds for ever by destroying the sanctity of the teddy bear, spank someone’s butt, strip, twerk on Robin Thicke and change the purpose of a foam finger forever…Hmm…Okay… Then throw in tears, a wrecking ball, a sledgehammer, nudity, and plenty of tongue action, and you have a number one single (“Wrecking Ball”). Well, the song’s good at least.
Now Miley has taken a page out of Green Day’s book at the I Heart Radio Music Festival by making it more buzz worthy on internet traffic than it would’ve been. Congratulations, maybe? I dunno. Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong had a breakdown on the 2012 festival that led to a stint at rehab and certainly didn’t help propel sales of the band’s trio of albums released in the fall of the same year (they basically bombed). At the 2013 edition, it was Miley’s outrageous outfit that drew attention, though certainly didn’t have quite the disturbing effect that Billie Joe’s um issues. Still, the outfit seems so unnecessary. Why does Miley have to go so, um, trashy? That’s the aspect of the new Miley I just can’t wrap my brain around.
I mean, Miley has a song I actually like in “Wrecking Ball” and I didn’t mind “We Can’t Stop” that much (could’ve done without all the processing and that “molly” lyric). So why can’t Cyrus’s endeavors be about the music and promoting it in a more refined manner? Why does everything have to become sexual innuendo? What makes it worse is that it’s clumsy and awkward at that. I mean there’s nothing wrong with a little naughtiness, but Cyrus’s ‘means’ to achieve a successful album and reinvigorate career seem a bit irresponsible to me. Maybe it’s just hunger for stardom or renewed stardom, but still, the shock value is offensive, at least in my opinion.
- Miley Cyrus Twerks, Puts on First Live Performance of “Wrecking Ball” (thehollywoodgossip.com)
- Miley Cyrus performs at IHeartRadio music festival (thenewstribune.com)
- Miley Cyrus Performs at IHeartRadio Music Festival (abcnews.go.com)
- Miley Cyrus Wears Pasties for iHeartRadio Music Festival Performance (finejoeyoung.wordpress.com)
- Miley Cyrus poses with the Kardashians at iHeartRadio music festival (nydailynews.com)
- Miley Cyrus performs at IHeartRadio music festival (miamiherald.com)
- Miley Cyrus Breaks Down Crying During Post-Split “Wrecking Ball” Performance (finejoeyoung.wordpress.com)
- Miley Cyrus twerks yet again at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas (myfacehunter.com)
- Miley Cyrus Live iHeart Radio Music Festival (coreygman.wordpress.com)
- Miley Cyrus Flaunts Body at iHeart Radio Music Festival Village! (justjared.com)
First things first, Kelly Rowland keeps showing R&B listeners she is no Beyoncé. Often
stuck in the shadow of the more popular chanteuse, Rowland’s musical direction as of late has smartly trended opposite of her contemporary. Perhaps the first time this adjustment truly garnered some deserved attention was when some (including myself) considered 11′s Here I Am a better album than Beyoncé’s 4. Yep, I said it. Continuing, Rowland has opted for a more sensual direction. While sensual can be dangerous, it works well for Rowland. Why?
Keep in mind that there is huge merit to the phrase “sex sells”. It can work for/against and artist, but Rowland has manipulated it to her advantage. Janet Jackson made it work throughout her career, until the infamous Super Bowl “Nipple-gate” and 2004′s oversexed Damita Jo which featured such overt numbers as “Sexhibition” (“I wanna sex-plore you…), ”Strawberry Bounce” (use your imagination), “Moist” (…) – you get the picture.
The reason why sensual has been so good to Rowland is because she does it suggestively as opposed to overtly. Her approach is more innocent bad girl than oversexed freak. She is more subtle about her desires, even if the effect is still one of embracing the more sensual side of womanhood. Examine some of her lyrics.
On 2011′s excellent “Motivation” featuring Lil Wayne, she had a gargantuan R&B hook by embracing innuendo, but without over pushing boundaries:
- “Oh lover, don’t you dare slow down / Go longer, you can last more rounds / Push harder, you’re almost there now/ So go lover, make my momma proud…” (Verse 1)
- “And when we’re done, I don’t wanna feel my legs / and when we’re done , I just wanna feel your hands all over me…And you’re almost there/ I believe in you baby…” (Chorus)
- “…Girl I turn that thing into a rainforest…I like to taste that sugar, that sweet and low…” (Lil Wayne)
Sure, it’s DIRTY – don’t get it twisted – but Rowland’s performance approach is ‘gentler’, even if the content is as/not more so potent than if she’d said the same thing with less tasteful, less poetic language.
On 2012′s “Ice” also featuring Lil Wayne, she takes the same, subtle approach:
- “You’re like ice / I-C-E, feels so nice / Scorching me, you’re so hot…./baby your love is so hot…” (Chorus)
- “Pull up, she been purring like a kitten…” (Verse 1)
- “And watch what I do / and that’s my favorite angle / my legs are numb now / your loving be giving me chills” (Verse 1)
- “You put the pillow (right there) /underneath my back / Got me up against the window (right now) / We got no shame we going…” (Verse 2)
I’ll spare you of Lil Wayne’s lyrics, which are more explicit this go-round. Kelly keeps it right on the edge as always, while just being one lyric from crossing the edge.
Similarly, 2012′s excellent Mike-Will-Made-It produced “Kisses Down Low” takes the exact same approach lyrically:
- “…But nothing can compare when you kiss me there” (Verse 1)
- “So boy just take your time, send chills down my spine / You’re one of a kind, that’s why I gotta make you mine…” (Pre-Chorus)
- “I like my kisses down low / makes me arch my back / when you give it to me slow / baby just like that” (Chorus)
- “Baby get a little rough that’s okay / baby go ahead do your thang, ride away…” (Verse 2)
- “Speed it up, heat it up, let it go, let it go…” (Bridge)
What can you draw from Rowland? She doesn’t abstain from topics of lovemaking. She
embraces it and pushes the envelope, which is a more bold approach for a female R&B artist. Sure, Miguel already made reference to “arch your back” popular with his sensual “Arch & Point” but Rowland almost approves of such territory already tread by male artists. Beyoncé sings about love as well, but she certainly ‘minds her step’ more than Rowland.
Is Rowland going TOO left-of-center? Only time will tell.
There is something uncannily irresistible about Nelly Furtado’s single “Big Hoops (Bigger The Better)” from her upcoming album The Spirit Indestructible due September 11, 2012 (The Spirit Indestructible (Deluxe Edition)). The question is, do you really know WHAT you are listening to and singing along as you are driving in your car and this sick beat starts your head a nodding? While the title of “Big Hoops” suggests that it is about bling-bling (an innocent, clean topic I suppose), Furtado clearly creates one of the more clever sensual songs in sometime without using three or four letter words (well she does mention ‘sex’ at some point but not even necessarily in the context you’d expect).
The first reason why we know that ‘earrings’ are only secondary to Furtado’s message is that Furtado keeps repeating “bigger the better, bigger the better…” over and over. Why would anyone ultimately give a care about how big Nelly’s hoops are? That would be ‘so what’ fodder easily. I mean don’t get me wrong, fashion is important and even relevant in the screw-ball video for the song (linked below), but obviously Furtado is referring to something else (Think Joe Nichol’s “Size Matters” if you are confused by the reference). Let’s just say that Ms. Furtado is picking up where she left off in 2006 after being “Promiscuous” with Timbaland, after being a “Maneater,” and after “Say It Right.”
“…Bigger the Better…” repeated over and over is most definitely sensually derived; earrings are just a clever, radio-friendly reference. Furtado goes on to sing “…I don’t wanna talk about sex/Wanna express myself tonight…” Well, I guess that’s fine, since she’s got her popping, big bling bling on, Um ok… But then I have to ask the question, why does Furtado even mention ‘sex’ lyrically? All part of her ‘motives’ for this song. Then, Furtado goes on in the next breath to say “I can go fast, I can go slow/I can go places nobody else goes/I can move fast/I can move slow/I can go places nobody else goes/Everybody say hey, they goin’ at it all night and day…” So, apparently everything has to do with tempo, though after several references to the sensual, you know what Nelly is getting at. I mean, what does tempo have to do with ‘big hoops’? The ‘high road’ suggests Furtado is talking about being ‘patient’ or being ‘quick’ in reference to going about life. That said, I don’t think Furtado gives a flip about a ‘high road in life,’ considering her numerous uses of double entendres. I mean, the title is a double entendre is nothing else – “Big Hoops (Bigger The Better)” c’mon peeps!
The second verse makes her points more obvious – “The boy going to feel my poison/I know he can’t stand the rain…” Um ok, we’ll leave that at that… She then continues on in her ‘innocent’ lyricism to sing “…You got my rum rum shaking them another back… and I never have to fake it fake it…” Yep, definitely not about earrings by any means. I believe Britney Spears put it best in her classic ”Oops (I Did It Again)” when she sang “…I’m not that innocent…” (and she wasn’t). A song proposed and posited to be about earrings is one of the most clever dirty songs on radio in 2012… The question is, how many will be able to decipher Furtado’s sometimes indecipherable lyrics/vocals and understand her hidden agenda. There’s a lot to them-there hoops y’all!!!
Here are all of the lyrics…
Check out the music video:
Here is the audio with lyrics: