A while back, I decided to watch the VMAs. I was shocked after the first five minutes. Arianna Grande, Jessie J and Nicki Minaj did the opening act. It was the usual girls wearing almost nothing and grinding on stage. Obviously Nicki Minaj 's performance was so raunchy it was censored whether by MTV itself or the Indian channel, I would never know.( Judge for yourself here and while you are at it watch the whole thing for more raunchy performance by female singers including Beyonce).
And watching the real Anaconda video recently, I understood why. (it is a must see to say the least)
But it got me thinking about female singers lately. They are all so oversexual. Last year we all screamed when the former Disney child actor turned pop singer Miley Cyrus twerked in Robin Thicke groins. We were equally shocked when Beyonce opened with her butt hanging in the air at her performance for the AMAs. But this has become common practice. Now if you want to be a successful female singer you gotta lead with your butt or do something sexily shocking (like performing a lap dance on stage) . It is becoming the norm so much that it doesn't shock anymore. However it is sad that these young stars feel the need to de-robe to sell albums. Why can't they rely on their voice only? Or maybe they lack the talent?
I am a child of the 80's. I grew up listening to Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, TLC, Monica, Brandy and such. But I also enjoyed older tunes because of my Dad who was listening to Etta James, Nina Simone and such. Back in those days, there was no MT, music videos were rare. Even if we had them they were mostly recording of artists at their concerts. Plus in my country we had to wait from six months to a year to get the videos from USA or other places. Things were faster on the radio. That way we would hear a new artist and fall in love with his voice and the song before we actually knew what the singer looked like. I can still remember the first time I heard Mariah Carey on the radio. I thought her voice reassembled Whitney Houston. Needless to say that I was hooked long before I even knew what she looked like.
Back in the 90's, with the arrival of cable in my country and the exposure to Western culture, we watched more videos. Women singers were sexy but they were never over the top. The raciest of the bunch was Madonna for me. I did not understand her lyrics because I could barely speak English back then but her videos were crazy. At close second came Salt and Peppa and TLC But although they had raunchy lyrics their dress style would be considered demure compare to now. I think the first bad sexy chicks that appeared back then were Lil Kim( her pasties at the VMAs. That was shocking!) and Foxy Brown at the beginning of the 2000s. Those women started to act like men rappers by saying it like it is and throwing their sexuality in the mix. And it changed the game. They paved the way for Nicky Minaj and other female rappers nowadays.
Videos changed the game. Before artists were too busy singing, making records and touring. They would interact with their fans on the stage and that was about it. People did not expect them to be beautiful and wear trendy clothes. They were not mega stars and triple threats. Some even managed to keep their day jobs and live a normal family life. But with the arrival of videos, people concentrated more on the aesethics rather than the acoustics. Women had to be beautiful, skinny, and own trendy but skimpy clothes. And with HD, skin even had to be flawless, no breakout, no wrinkles. It puts so much pressure on artists that it is no wonder why most of them wind up in rehab or have eating disorder. I remember watching "Bootilicious" on the computer once with a male friend of mine. The Internet connection was slow so the video would stop every five seconds. At one point it stopped on Beyonce while she was dancing and we could see her love handles. My friend just said :"euuww! ". He was shocked that Beyonce was so fat. His words. Not mine. Another time I was watching Mtv with a group of friends when Indira Arie appeared. One of them (male) exclaimed:" Oh my good! Look at that ugliness! " Ironically, it was her song :"Videos"
But to blame videos only would be unfair. With so many new female artists popping up every year, skinnier, more beautiful, not necessarily talented but sexier and eager to do anything to make it, things took a turn for the worse. To keep up older artists have to do something drastic. Did anyone noticed how Beyonce became raunchier after the arrival of Rihanna. Sure Queen B is still on top but I am sure that having Rihanna on her tail pushes her to the limit. And what about Jennifer Lopez wiggling her forty year old butt on the cover of her new single weeks shy of Nicky Minaj dropping hers on Anaconda cover. It is so sad but that is what women artists are reduce to do these days to stay relevant.
Album covers in the 80's and 90's
Album covers now
Most people think that this is perfectly normal. They applaud Rihanna for expressing herself through her music and not being afraid to show her sexual side. I applaud too. More power to her for being a sexual being and doing whatever she wants. But where I have a problem is that her attitude and other female singers affects more than just them. It affects a whole bunch of young girls who see them as a role models (whether they like it or not). They think that they can act like them and get away with their I do not give a fuck attitude. If I had a daughter I would not want her liking Rihanna or her likes and thinking that she could emulate them. Because I know how it is to be young and be impressed by a female figure. I know what it is like to want to do everything the same as her and I also know the dangers. And back then my role model did not post naked pictures of herself on Instagram. She did not even have "leaked" sex tapes.
Because of all that ( and other issues) I no longer listen to music like I used to do. I do not try and find out what the latest hit is. Sometimes when I go somewhere and hear something that I like, I will try and find out more about it. I still do not know all the songs to Beyonce's latest album. And the first time I heard Arianna Grande on the radio, I did not think that she was all that. I miss voices like Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Tracy Chapman and Lauren Hill. I miss voices that will pierce your heart, and make your goose bumps. Some are still fighting and are still relevant while keeping their clothes on like Alicia Keys. And new ones are warming my heart to tears like Adele (once I watched on of her concert on a flight and I was wailing like a child) But Music as I knew it is dying and it is all because of music videos and the sex sells antics.