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Friday, January 4, 2013

Vanishing From The Megahertz 3: Uncensored Songs

Censorship has always been alive, well and living not only in the suburbs, but in a myriad of other places as well.

Like radio for example.

For the longest time you could not hear songs on the radio that contained George Carlin's List of Seven Dirty Words You Can't Say On Television. It's only been the last 15-20 years that you could listen to those songs on the radio, and even then you were limited to college radio on the overnight .

Recently, listening to that kind of music has moved itself to satellite radio, Internet radio and cable digital music channels, which although is a good thing, you still won't hear those songs on normal commercial radio.

However I have discovered as of late, a disturbing new trend (or an old trend, since I don't pay attention enough anymore) that some conglomos are doing to the radio stations. They're tearing a page out of MTV's playbook and censoring words that 99% of America would probably consider to be mild-to-non-offensive.

To refresh your memory, MTV is notorious for applying a double standard when it comes to words vs. images. More often than not, they have no problem in showing videos by rap artists which feature scantily clad (aka video vixens aka borderline hardcore) woman prancing and dancing around, yet when it comes to certain words, they'll censor it out.

Example: The word joint from You Don't Know How It Feels.

Example: The word .45 from ".45".

Anyways, I came to this epiphany when I was listening to the song "Sweet Home Alabama". Near the end of the song, the word Goddamn was scrubbed out and simply changed to "God".

Now granted, I'm sure back in the day that the word goddamn was considered to be somewhat offensive, especially on the radio. But people, this is 2013 and language like this is considered to be so common place that it doesn't even register on a typical person's offended meter.

Anyways this has got me wondering about how many other classic songs from the early 70's thru today that got scrubbed of mild-to-non-offensive words.

Honestly, I can understand the scrubbing of swear words out because most swears are bad, although there is the rare occasion when scrubbing a swear word kills a song.

Example, Pearl Jam's "Jeremy".

Lyric He was a harmless little fuck, gets changed to He was a harmless little.

Unless you're overly familiar with the song, you won't get the implied meaning.

But I draw the line when you start scrubbing words out of songs (and videos) because of some remote possibility that some advertiser might get offended.

An old song is just that: old. And to scrub it clean is in my opinion, the worst possible thing you can do.

Now please keep in mind, I'm talking about scrubbing out allegedly offensive non-swear words and not when someone rearranges a song to suit their singing style. A good example of this would be Pat Boone's CD "In A Metal Mood". Don't laugh, because not only were the classic rock songs rearranged into a brassy big band swing sound, but some of the original performers of those songs actually joined in.

So my friends, do you have a problem when radio stations scrub a song so that certain words are eliminated (not counting blatant swear words)? Or it doesn't really bother you that a favorite song gets scrubbed?

14 comments:

  1. I definitely have a problem. I'd rather they not play the song at all then **** with it.

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  2. Charles: Absolutely agree.

    As a matter of fact, on the way home, the same radio station that scrubbed the song "Sweet Home Alabama", scrubbed the word bitch out of the song "Rich Girl" by Hall & Oates.

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  3. I'm not a music radio listener, so I'm pretty ambivalent about it. But I do think that the way this country censors language and certain images, while displaying others in full glory, is ridiculous and often puritanical.

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  4. Chris: I agree.

    What bothers me the most about this, is that most of the words that they scrub are such an integral part of the song that to remove them usually makes the unlistenable.

    Granted, blatant swear words should be bleeped from the regular radio dial during the normal hours. But I don't see why they should be bleeped in the overnight, which is what the FCC allows in the first place.

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  5. I am one of those people who, on the rare occasion I purchase a new cd, will go to Whoremart for the "clean" version.

    My wife, on the other hand, goes after the full, untouched version. Everyone goes home happy; the artist gets two sales, I listen to stuff I would not listen to otherwise, and the wife gets to hear what she wants as well.

    At the same time, I laugh like mad whenever a song plays and words like "ass" or "bitch" are scrubbed...but blasphemies such as your Alabama reference are left in.

    I find "omg" and things like that far, far more offensive than more standard curse words.

    But in either case, where standard cursing or blasphemies, I typically avoid the song anyway whether it is the "clean" version or the "dirty" version.

    If and when I have kids, I want to teach them proper language and the skills to converse in polite company and in the interests of not being hypocritical, it behooves me to do likewise so there it is.

    Then again, I am probably the minority.

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  6. It bugs me. Dubs are the worst. Radiohead's "Creep" is a prime example.

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  7. I just remember when LOUIE LOUIE was banned for lyrics nobody could even understand and their guesses were totally wrong.

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  8. Darth: I don't think that you're in the minority.

    People react differently when it comes to certain words being used, whether its in music or in normal conversation, which I think is based on one's upbringing and one's environment.

    Personally, I believe there's a time and a place for all kinds of language. Long story short, I have multiple conversation/language skills which are directly tied into a given situation I might be in.

    M: Not much into Radiohead or dub-style music, but I think I understand your point.

    Let me know if my example dovetails into what you're saying:

    I have the dirty version of "As Nasty As They Want To Be" on cassette, and in one of the songs they sample CCR's "Down On The Corner". Now whenver I hear that CCR song, I immediately hook back into that 2 Live Crew Song.

    G.A.: I think with "Louie, Louie", it was more the ginormous assumption that people made when they were able to hear some of the few clear words that were on the song (love the song, btw).

    I think between the nascent rock beat, the fact that semi-influential people were saying that rock music was evil, and the semi-incoherant lyrics, people jumped to the conclusion that it was obscene.

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  9. For the love of... they censored "bitch"? That's just getting silly.

    You make a good point about the double standard of words vs. images. I've never heard of images of guns being censored on TV, so why bother taking out ".45"? Ack. Of course it's too much to ask for humans to ever make sense.

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  10. S.R.: Yup, they censored the word bitch. Be interesting to see if they censor Elton John's song that contains the lyric "The bitch is back", although I don't think that they will.

    Elton John is much bigger artist in the classic rock/pop world than Hall & Oates.

    As for censoring images of guns, I belived that Steven Speilberg bowed to the wishes of anti-gun nut Drew Barrymore and tweaked the movie E.T. and replaced the FBI agent's guns with walkie talkies.

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  11. Censorship, sadly, will always be with us. Too many small minds.

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  12. David: You sure got that right. Too many small minds in control of what we listen, what we read and what we see.

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  13. One of the most confusing censored songs I've heard is the Eminem/Nate Dogg song "Shake That" (which is pretty much offensive from start to finish, but ridiculously catchy... therefore, I always end up listening to it, censored or not :)). When it's played on the radio, the word "retarded" is left out -- lest someone take offense. However, an entire line in which a guy says to a girl, "I told him how you like it from behind" is left in. How is "retarded" MORE offensive than talking about how a girl "likes it from behind"???

    That's pretty much my favorite example of the insanity of radio censorship. :)

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  14. Lisa: I can see your point, but in the sample you gave me, while it may be considered offensive to you and somewhat offensive to me, still doesn't provoke the same hypocritical outrage that the word "retarded" does.

    For the record and for anyone who happens to be passing by, the word "retarded" is actually a proper medical/pyschiatric diagnosis for someone whose IQ is below 70, and I might add, regardless of whether that person has Down's Syndrome or not.

    "Retard" is also a musical term which means "slow the tempo down".

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