There is no shortage of misogynist, pervy, douchy and rape-y songs out there. Compiling them all into a list would be a Sisyphean Task, and yet, dear reader, here you are, reading a listicle of 9 songs that deserve special notice for their disturbing content. How, you must be asking, did I manage to wade through the ample waters of disgusting musical content and filter out the exceptionally offensive droplets? It’s not easy, I have to admit.
1. BLAME IT (ON THE ALCOHOL)
Blame It (On the Alcohol), the 2008 song by Jamie Foxx and T-Pain. is another obviously rape-culture reflecting/ endorsing anthem. And it’s the story of a boy encouraging a girl to stop acting like she doesn’t want to have sex:
Ay she say she usually don’t But I know that she front
Cause shawty know what she want
But she don’t wanna seem like she easy
Foxx clearly states his intention to use alcohol to get the girl he’s wooing to have sex with him: “Just one more round and you’re down I’d know it.”
Foxx demonstrates his familiarity with various alcohols and their various rape-facilitating qualities:
Blame it on the goose
Got you feeling loose
Blame it on Patron
Got you in the zone
Blame it on the a a a a a alcohol (x2)
Blame it on the vodka
Blame it on the henny
Blame it on the blue top
Got you feeling dizzy
Blame it on the a a a a a alcohol (x2)
OK. So, I’m already uncomfortable with finding any song by Dave Matthews appealing. But I have to admit I like this song, which came out in 1996. I realize I just lost a lot of readers, but I have to be true to myself and the musical taste I share with frat boys nation-wide. But it gets worse. Not only am I moved—yeah, I said it—by a Dave Matthews song but it’s a Dave Matthews song about a peeping Tom. To me, the melody just sounds like a typical love song and a lot of the words pass as your standard romantic, if somewhat sexual, fair. The chorus, in fact, makes it sound like the song is about a consensual mutually satisfying orgasmic exchange:
And you come crash into me,
And I come into you.
The song becomes a little bit voyeuristic, but there is nothing to suggest any violation, per se:
Hike up your skirt a little more
and show the world to me [x2]
In a boys dream… In a boys dream
But any delusions of a healthy dynamic are crashed against the rocks of reality, so to speak, at the end of the song, when Dave croons,
Oh I watch you there
through the window
And I stare at you
You wear nothing but you
wear it so well
tied up and twisted
the way I’d like to be
For you, for me, come crash into me.
In case you think I’m “reading too much into this,” an extremely perved-out Dave Matthews said the following during a Vh1 Storytellers live recording:
this song is about the worship of women but this is a bit of a crazy man. He’s the type of person that you’d call the police on. Some guy who’s just peering in keenly at his neighbors. At this young girl, staring [makes gross sound.] And she’s calling up the police: [in stereotypically feminine voice] “You’ve got to get down here. he’s looking right in the win… he saw me. I didn’t have a shirt… he was looking at me. I don’t know what he was doing.” So I wrote this song about it rather than actually peering in the window for fear of being arrested.
Stalking, peeping toms and impersonating a scared woman calling the police? HILARIOUS!
3. PROPUESTA INDECENTE
Lest we be anglocentric in our exploration of rape-culture-boosting ballads, let’s turn to this extremely catchy Tango-Bachata fusion song, which came out in 2013. Romeo Santos doesn’t mince his words in this hit I’ve taken the liberty of translating. I think you’ll thank me for it because this poetry is not to be missed!
If I lift up your skirt, would you give me the right [note, the order here. In his scenario, her consent, if it’s even there, comes AFTER he lifts up her skirt. I like the way he thinks!]
To determine your judgment, to play with your body,
If this indecent proposal seems OK to you.
Let me appreciate your nakedness.
Relax, this martini will make you less shy. [If all else fails, intoxicate]
An adventure is more fun when it smells of danger.
That line must work every time.
4. EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE
I have to admit, the lyrics in this 1983 song are fairly transparent, definitely intelligible, undeniably in English and present throughout the song. And yet, up until very recently I just considered Police hit a romantic ballad about a man missing his girlfriend and perhaps a little infatuated and obsessed. In other words, a harmless obsession which harms the obsessor more than the obsessee because it is a time suck. Kind of like my obsession with Waiting for Guffman. I just thought Sting was having a hard time:
Since you’ve gone I’ve been lost without a trace.
I dream at night, I can only see your face.
I look around but it’s you I can’t replace.
I feel so cold, and I long for your embrace.
I keep crying baby, baby please…
But it was recently brought to my attention that it’s pretty stalkerish. I think Sting comes off as so well adjusted and so in touch with his chakras, it didn’t even occur to me that he would be capable of this. But in the music video he comes off not so much as obsessed but rather possessed. Plus it looks like he’s humping his cello. And his duck face is striking.
Then there are the lyrics, which communicate to the person being sung to, you will never be able to escape me and my gaze:
Every breath you take [you have to be pretty close to observe someone’s breathing]
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you.
Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I’ll be watching you.
He definitely comes off having that self-pitying stalker who is too busy feeling hurt to realize he’s actually a threatening, menacing, scary stalker je ne sais quois!
Oh can’t you see
You belong to me?
How my poor heart aches with every step you take.
Poor guy has to deal with an unreasonable woman who doesn’t realize she’s his property.
5. LOVE IN THIS CLUB
This beautiful Usher 2008 slow jam can easily pass as a love song, thanks to its aesthetically pleasing melody and title, which cleverly omits the “make” which appears in the chorus, thus allowing the possibility that the song refers to falling in love and not doing it. Usher’s falsetto adds an operatic quality to it. And his youthful face adds an air of innocence. Indeed, at the opening of the song Usher sounds like a mature, astute good listener, who is listening to a woman express what she is looking for in a partner. He’s so attentive, he synthesizes what the woman says and repeats it back to her. It’s all very Imago therapy, actually:
You say you’re searching for somebody that will take you out and do you right. [active listening]
Well, come here baby and let daddy show you what it feels like. [pervie potential but he could mean he’s going to show her what being respected feels like]
But then things shift:
You know all you gotta do is tell me what you’re sipping on.
And I promise that I’m gonna keep it coming all night long.
Now, her happiness lies in his intoxicating her. And thanks to Romeo Santos and Jamie Fox, we know what that means.
The chorus gives slight hint of what it is Usher is looking for
I wanna make love in this club
In this club [where?]
In this club [I know, I was just kidding]
In this club [because you’re being so adamant about it]
I wanna make love in this club.
In this club
In this club
In this club
And then there’s the “pre-chorus”
Looking in your eyes,
While you’re on the other side,
(I can’t take it no more baby I’m coming for you) [slightly predatory]
You’re doing it on purpose, wind it and work it. [cock tease]
If we close our eyes it could just be me and you
That last line suggests that the two of them are not alone but they could easily pretend to be alone. Some people enjoy exhibitionism. But you usually don’t have to try to convince them to close there eyes and imagine other people aren’t there if that’s already their thing.
Might as well give me a kiss, if we keep touching like this [pressure based on a pretty weak argument that would look very silly written out as a logical proof]
I know you’re scared, baby, they don’t know what we’re doing.
Let’s both get undressed right here, keep it up girl, and, I swear.
I’m gonna give it to you non-stop.
And I don’t care, who’s watching. [well at least he’s down with the exhibitionism thing, even if she’s not]
6. TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT
So, you don’t have to be a critical reader to realize that this 1976 Rod Stewart hit is about sex. But the title and melody don’t do justice to the predatory perviness of the song:
C’mon angel my hearts on fire
Don’t deny your man’s desire [predator pressure]
You’d be a fool to stop this tide [don’t be stupid, have sex with me]
Spread your wings and let me come inside [gross in any context]
In case you didn’t get the older-younger, father-daughter subtext, this verse should drive it home:
Don’t say a word my virgin child [ew]
Just let your inhibitions run wild [ew]
The secret is about to unfold [ew]
Upstairs before the night’s too old [ew]
At the very end of the song, Britt Ekland, a Swedish actress who was Stewart’s girlfriend at the time and appears in the video, whispers in French that she’s scared and, “what will mother say”?
In case you think I’m being to hard on Rod, here’s what he had to say about Ekland: “I remember I got her drunk, pissed as a fart to sing that old French bollocks on the end, because she didn’t want to do it.” When asked if he paid her a royalty, Prince Charming said, “Bollocks! I bought her a nice frock.”
7. FATHER FIGURE
So, this George Michael song from 1987 makes Rod Stewart’s sketchy ballad seem like the most wholesome love song ever, by comparison. In this case the paternal dynamic isn’t subtext, it’s text-text. Yet, as in the case of Tonight’s the Night, it’s much worse than you thought. George Michaels is pretty pedophilic in this 80s hit, which I remember listening to as a child. Ew. The song starts out OK, sexual but nothing inappropriate. Just some good old fashioned reciprocal desire to be naked and adjacent.
That’s All I Wanted…
To be bold and naked
At your side
That’s all you wanted…
To be warm and naked
At my side
So far so good. And then, shit gets Freudian:
(baby) I will be your father figure [ok. Suggestive of a not very equitable relationship]
Put your tiny hand in mine [Really?]
I will be your preacher teacher [really? Preacher and teacher role? Two of the most child-abusing professions? Good stuff]
(be your daddy) [ Wow. Preacher, teacher and daddy? I think you’re overextending yourself.]
…I have had enough of crime [Wait, what?]
(please let me)
Because all i ever wanted
It’s in your eyes baby, baby
And love can’t lie. No…
(greet me with the eyes of a child) [ok. Really embracing the child love them, once again]
The fact that Michaels was arrested makes this even more disturbing. Looks like he wasn’t able to kick that crime habit, after all.
8. BLURRED LINES
Blurred Lines, the 2013 number one hit by T.I., Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke, was immediately called out for it’s rape-condoning lyrics and even banned at several British universities. Sung mostly by Thicke, It’s a typical boy meets girl, boy tells girl how much she wants to have sex with him, even though she’s a good girl, and girls don’t have sex story:
And that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl
I know you want it
I know you want it [got it the 1st time]
I know you want it [got it the 2nd time]
You’re a good girl
To be fair, it’s also a story about a boy meets girl, boy gets girl drunk, boy gets really frustrated by things that aren’t black and white and, like, the whole concept of consent.
Talk about getting blasted
hate these blurred lines
I know you want it [just in case you missed it the 3rd time]
I know you want it [just in case you missed it the 4th time]
I know you want it [just in case you missed it the 5th time]
And it’s also a story about boy meets girl, boy knows girl wants to have sex or she wouldn’t have touched him the way she did, and girl likes painful sex.
But you’re a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty…
… Do it like it hurt,
do it like it hurt.
And then there’s the wonderful interlude from T.I. who raps poetic:
Yeah, had a bitch, but she ain’t bad as you
So hit me up when you passing through
I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two
That is such a sweet, generous and giving gift, T.I. A huge penis violently and destructively inserted into a woman’s anus is every girl’s dream.
9. BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE
This song’s content is especially hard to detect, given that it was written during the 1940s. Luckily, the author gave us more than enough hints throughout the duet. The first one is that the male part is called “wolf” while the female one is called “mouse.” If that doesn’t spell predator and prey, I don’t know what does. And there’s more. The whole song can be seen as a date-rape ballad in which the “wolf” attempts to coerce the “mouse” into staying in the house by reminding her, “but baby it’s cold outside”. The mouse tries to escape offering one reason after another for why she must leave. Some seem to be for the sake of appearances:
MOUSE: The neighbors might think…
WOLF: But Baby it’s cold outside
MOUSE: My mother will start to worry
WOLF: Beautiful, what’s your hurry?
MOUSE: My father will be pacing the floor
Other times, the mouse is more insistant
I really can’t stay
I’ve got to go away
The answer is no
Enter the date-rape assist sung about in several of the songs above: alcohol
MOUSE: Maybe just a half a drink more
WOLF: Put some records on while I pour
MOUSE: Say, what’s in this drink?
WOLF: No cabs to be had out there
Uh oh? Did someone spike mousey’s drink? Well, whatevs. Even if the wolf did, it’s not like a non-roofied mouse could have gotten home in this weather anyway.