Editor’s Note: This story contains some very graphic language.
Turn on the radio this Valentine’s Day and you will hear some strange messages of what love means. Drunk, high, gay, straight, a fling, or the true thing, love is described many ways in today’s popular songs.
According to many songs on Billboard’s “The Hot 100,” love is basically sex. Not with commitment behind it, but as an “addicting,” drug-and-alcohol fueled whirlwind experience. The line, “You’re an animal” from Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” best reflects the nature of love in these songs: hedonistic, and mindless.
The second-most popular song on the list, “Drunk in Love” by Beyonce, most blatantly celebrates drunk sex. The song describes a drunken lust-filled night of depravity with graphic descriptions of all kinds of sex.
Other songs like “Timber” by Ke$ha chant, “End of the night, it’s going down/ One more shot, another round/ End of the night, it’s going down,” and “Show Me” by Kid Ink with Chris Brown also uplift drunk sex with the lyrics, “Oh baby show me, show me something/Tomorrow I might be hungover, that don't mean nothing.”
Some songs sent the message that you could enjoy sex without any kind of emotional or mental consequences. Lady Gaga’s “Do What U Want,” chants:
“Do what you want with my body
Sometimes I'm scared I suppose
If you ever let me go
I would fall apart
If you break my heart
So just take my body
And don't stop the party”
Similarily, Zedd’s “Stay the Night” praises sex without commitment:
“Are you gonna stay the night?
Doesn't mean we're bound for life
So oh oh oh, are you gonna stay the night?”
Drake’s “The Language” talks about love as a one-night-stand:
Not surprisingly, in the popular rap songs women are described only in physically, sexual ways and called “bitches,” “hoes,” and “broads.” “Paranoid” by Ty Dolla Sign was one of the worst songs on the list, calling women “bitches” or “hoes” 14 times and bragging about using two women at once:
“I'm fuckin' around with two bitches
But I never made them hoes my misses.”
“Talk Dirty” by Jason Derulo and 2 Chainz lives up (or down) to its name and also demeans women as nothing more than body parts:
“Her pussy so good I bought her a pet
Anyway, every day I'm trying to get to it
Got her saved in my phone under "Big Booty."
A few songs also embraced homosexuality. Like Macklemore’s gay anthem at the Grammy’s, “Same Love,” Kacey Musgrave’s song, “Follow your arrow” equates any kind of love as equal in goodness:
"Kiss lots of boys
Or kiss lots of girls
If that's something you're into
When the straight and narrow
Gets a little too straight
Roll up a joint, or don't
Just follow your arrow
Wherever it points"
There is still hope though that the culture hasn’t completely forgotten what love is. Though several songs equated love to lust, several songs also celebrated love in better ways. Songs like “Compass” by the country group “Lady Antebellum,” celebrate loyalty in relationships with the lyrics, “No matter what, you’ll never be alone.” Katy Perry’s “Unconditionally” and The Fray’s “Love don’t die” both honor the faithfulness and honesty of love. Dierks Bentley’s “I Hold On” describes love as a commitment:
“There ain't never been no doubt
Without you I'd be nothing
So if you ever worry about
Me walking out
Yeah, let me tell you something,
I hold on.”
It’s heartening to see a few well-liked songs spreading good messages about love this year, though too many songs spread false notions about love within our culture.