The Newfound Appeal of the F-Bomb in Pop Music 


Nick Jonas, Nick Jonas © Island

Nick Jonas becomes the latest former teen-pop star to turn to the dark side. In other words, he dropped the bomb – the f-bomb (cue foreboding, twisted music now)! For the millennial and younger folk, most of us don’t give a flying ‘you-know-what’ about the f-word. In fact, eavesdrop on a high school or college students conversations in particular, and what’s generally considered ‘salty’ language is prevalent – sometimes every other word. Part of it is because, we’ve grown immune to it and culturally, it’s considered acceptable (right or wrong).

What’s the point of this f-bomb tangent? Well, it seems that these days that musicians are buying into casually dropping it, particularly those trying to switch-up the formula or like Jonas, trying to shed the ‘kiddy’ image. No, it’s not like the word has suddenly just made its way into anybody’s vocabulary or that it’s completely brand new to music (ask the rappers), it’s just that in the 10s, it has become fashionable and expected as opposed to surprising. It’s not contained to urban music – it has made its way into pop.

Yes, let’s all admit, when we found out Nick Jonas’ self-titled album donned the often common place parental advisory, explicit lyrics, we knew that he was going to drop ‘the bomb.’ Sure enough, the newly buffed-up pop star slipped it into single “Numb,” featuring Angel Haze. How did he use it – as follows my friends: “F*ck with my head like it’s nothin’ at all.” Ah, the old mind-f*ck reference – so charming. When Joe Jonas told all, he kept it ‘all the way real.’ So much for purity rings apparently.

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But returning to the point, something about the f-bomb and making yourself risqué and edgy seems to be the formula for breaking through or at least earning listeners interest these days. So many artists, aside from young Jonas, have moved to the dark side. There’s currently a desire for shock value. Honestly, it’s nothing that hasn’t happened previously in music, it’s just reincarnated in a different form.

Jennifer Hudson’s “Walk It Out” found her talking some trash when she confidently sang, “F*ck it, let’s do this today.” Usher, who has always been sexual, took it to the brink on the oral sex themed “Good Kisser,” where he boasted, “You do it so good, you f*ck with my mind.” Original right – Wow! Of course, Miley Cyrus has dropped as many bombs of all kind since her transformation in 2013. “F*ckin’ bangerz!”

Next, we all expect Justin Bieber to go there – he’s dropped enough profanity to ‘float a boat’ outside of his music (“I’ll f*ckin’ beat the f*ck out you!”). And let’s not forget, he slipped in an innocent ‘damn’ into “Die In Your Arms” on 2012 LP Believe as he sang, “Loving you is so damn easy for me.” If sexually mature tracks like “PYD” from Journals or his guest spot on oral-sex themed Maejor Ali banger “Lolly” are any indication, it’s only a matter of time.

The question is, is using this newfound liberal use of the f-bombs in music really a good or viable thing? Obviously Evangelicals, Christians, and the majority of mature, responsible adults will say no. Quickly, how music “didn’t used to be the way” will come right off the tongue, as the parent comes out and says the previously it was implication as opposed to being just plain overt.

Personally, just dropping an f-bomb is not going to set up a career for enduring success, mostly because after a while, the f-bomb loses its edge and allure. People will continue to flaunt something more intense than damn, but eventually it’ll lose its luster like everything else.

Sure, to my parents (mom especially) and folks from the past generation, the f-word will never sound comfortable and honestly, that’s notable from a moral perspective. But to the younger generation where rebelliousness is dominant these days and overtness is the trend, eventually, the casual f-bomb will fade. Will it ever die? No, but eventually, the excitement of such naughtiness won’t matter, just like molly-rap has faded (thank goodness).

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