herald

Saturday 18 August 2018

Why do talented young women have to dress like this to sell records?

GIRL power or soft porn? Music guru Mike Stock thinks modern female pop music is descending into soft porn. Recent videos by the likes of Lady Gaga are the worry: "These days you can't watch modern stars -- like Britney Spears or Lady Gaga - with a two-year-old as 99pc of the charts is RnB and 99pc of that is soft pornography."

Stock was part of the trio of producers, Stock, Aiken and Waterman, who were a hit factory for the likes of Kylie Minogue. Is this an old fogey who is out of touch or has he got a case?

Lady Gaga is certainly using sex. As a piano player I watch keyboardists and she can play. She also has a voice. Yet she has to wear a thong to sell albums.

For the music industry there is one prime market today -- the kiddie/teen market. This market is a multi-billion one and the likes of Beyonce, Rhianna and Gaga are in fierce competition.

In order to create a unique selling point these artists are outdoing themselves in their sexual explicitness. Sex appeal has always sold.

Elvis' gyrating hips were denounced and certainly his looks helped -- but it was mildly suggestive not explicit.

In the Sixties, free love and nakedness at Woodstock was part of an acceptable culture of the time. Artists were often stoned or drunk but from a performance point of view, Janis Joplin wearing a short skirt was about the limit of it.

In the Eighties, in response to artists like Prince, the Parents Music Resource Centre was formed. They wanted parental input and control over record companies output.

Are Mike Stock's comments another attempt at this type of censorship?

Whatever Stock's credibility as a moral guardian, I believe something has changed in music. Artists and their management companies are becoming increasingly explicit to try to get attention. And this is facilitated by the dominance of the music video. And that is where artists compete and set fashions.

The mothers of soft porn chic, Madonna and Cher, sold sexual explicitness through skimpy costumes and graphic videos. Britney Spears took up the mantle.

So what's the difference with Gaga and Co? The key is the age at which it is directed. Young girls are the target. The kid equates being attractive and trendy with wearing sexually explicit clothing. To lose the innocence of childhood too early is not right.

Sad too that Gaga does not trust her music enough to let it sell on its merits.

The street credibility of original hip hop and R'n'B has been replaced with an anaesthetised music that belittle women as 'bitch' and 'ho'.

Perhaps it is this commoditisation of women that is the real danger. Behind these artists are powerful music moguls, mainly men. Remember who runs the music industry and dictates its trends.

Eamon Keane's album Hang The Moon is available now

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