Throughout the history of music, we’ve always had a knack for uncovering subliminal messages hidden in our favorite songs. Sometimes the discovery was subtle and unexpected, like playing the Beatles’ record backwards to hear “Paul is dead.” Sometimes the messaging was not as subtle, like hearing Britney Spears beg for someone to “If You Seek Amy” in her new salacious (and radio-censored) song.
Most of the time, pop music is like Brit-Brit: it’s quite literal. Thus when the pop diva asks us to satisfy her penchant for four-letter words, we know what she means. When Beyonce implores the male species to “put a ring on it,” she’s giving our deadbeat boyfriends a pretty clear directive. And when Lady Gaga sings “Just Dance”, well, we…just dance. But for every straight shooter in the music business, there’s always someone out there who just wants to if-you-seek-ay-with our heads.
The following are some examples of masterful, even Shakespearean, trickery; behind the poppy lyrics and tempo beats, we have discovered their true intentions:
Burnin’ Up (Jonas Brothers): “I’m slipping into the lava / And I’m trying to keep from going under / Baby who turned the temperature hotter / ‘Cause I’m burning up, burning up”
- Take it literally: The musically-gifted but awfully-coiffed trio is on the precipice of an exploding volcano. An exploding volcano of love.
- Think about it: If the brothers were to actually slip into lava, they would immediately die. So this song isn’t about love at all; it’s about an extreme fear of love. After all, who wants to burn to death in a pool of flaming magma? Not anyone I know.
Right Now (Akon): “I wanna make up right now na na / I wanna make up right now na na / Wish we never broke up right now na na / We need to link up right now na na”
Right Round (Flo Rida ft. Katy Perry): “You spin my head right round / Right round / When you go down / When you go down down”
- Take it literally: So yeah, it sounds like he maaayy be talking about fellatio… Or stripping. Either way, adult activities.
- Think about it: It’s a recession, people. And Katy Perry clearly has a thing for girls. So what else is going down down, and making our heads spin right round? Of course… the stock market. The Dow just can’t keep it up, and with all the painful pullbacks, it’s been one wild ride on the Street. There’s nothing sexual about it. And if you seek proof, just ask for Amy.
- Exxon Mobil sponsoring CNN’s broadcast of the VP debate last night, especially given that both candidates embraced the populist approach of bashing “big oil”. (1)
- Sarah Palin’s performance in the debate being considered a success because she was able to (mostly) complete coherent sentences. (2)
- When being smart and knowledgeable is actually a handicap to winning an election… Who knew?
- So, conservatives are conservative when it comes to the economy (favoring less government intervention), but not when it comes to social issues (favoring more intervention in the areas of women’s rights, stem cell research, gay marriage, censorship, etc.) Liberals are exactly the opposite, favoring more government oversight on policy, but less intervention when it comes to social issues. Thus, neither party can claim consistency in a truly conservative or liberal approach.
In the Economy
- In Rihanna’s hit song “Umbrella”, Jay-Z raps: ” No clouds in my storms / Let it rain / I hydroplane in the bank / Coming down like the Dow Jones…” Prophetic.(3)
- Wall Street bigwigs pushing for more government intervention in the market through the bailout. Yes, it’s necessary, but still, weren’t these the same guys who argued that Adam Smith’s invisible hand would solve all worries? Well, the invisible hand has struck.
- Even though the Republicans are supposed to be the pro-business party, the two wealthiest men in the U.S., Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, are Democrats. So is billionaire George Soros, Lloyd Blankfein (CEO of Goldman), Steve Jobs (Apple), and several other money-making businessmen too. So the argument that Democrats (and their policies) are totally anti-business may fall flat…
- While on the topic of the financial crisis, President Bush is the only president in history to have received an MBA… and from Harvard Business School no less. Bush most likely will fall into the same chute as Jeff Skilling (convicted CEO of Enron) when it comes to disreputable HBS alums.
In Everyday Life
- Non-drowsy Mucinex commercials making mucus seem cute. Talk about putting lipstick on a pig.
- The Jonas Brothers succeeding. How come Hanson flamed out ten years ago? Hmm…bop.
- The Tampa Bay Rays are in the MLB playoffs while the Yankees are sitting at home.(4) And the Rays made the playoffs a year after they got rid of the “Devil” in their name. Coincidence? I think not.
- Britney making headlines for a song, of all things. Where did all the K-Fed, hair-shaving, alcohol abusin’, baby mama drama go? I think I prefer that to her singing.
(1) If you were wondering, the Exxon Mobil PAC has contributed 87% to Republicans this year, vs. 13% to Democrats.
(2) Sidenote: When did we start celebrating mediocrity and requiring down-home folksiness as a path to the Presidency? Shoot, I haven’t prepared for this question… help! Maybe I can just wink my way out of this one. Or divert the question to something about energy… Think it’ll work? You betcha!
(3) “Umbrella” was released on March 29, 2007. Since then, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen 2,195 points, or about 17%.
(4) Yankee payroll: $207m (#1 in Major League Baseball)… Tampa Bay payroll: $43m (second to last). In fact, the 3 other AL playoff teams are #4 (Red Sox), #5 (White Sox), and #6 (Angels) in payroll.