2 Shades of Grey

Songs from the soundtrack of your life

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Ain’t no love any more when it comes to pop songs

If the Righteous Brothers lost that loving feeling back in 1965 then its got worse ever since.

Pop songs now are less likely to be about love and are increasingly likely to be about sex.

An analysis of the top 50 songs in the US Billboard charts from 1960 to 2008 found that almost 60% of songs were about romance.Since then the proportion has dropped to 49%.

And male singers are increasingly singing about sex – up to 40% from only 7% in the 1960s.

No longer the Beatles vanilla “I wanna hold your hand” but Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous“, “Birthday Sex” by Jeremiah, and “Love Sex Magic” by Ciara.

And on of the greatest modern songwriters Marvin Gaye progressed from being crazy about his baby in 1963 but demanding sexual healing ten years later.

And the researchers – from 3 universities in America – blame it on male R & B and rap artists. They say “Over these five decades relational content became somewhat less common and sexual content, including objectification of women, became more common. These trends were slightly more apparent in songs performed my males rather than females.

The changes seem driven by the rap genre which did not place a song in the top 50 until the 1990s”(I would argue that rap doesn’t have songs but that’s my traditionalist view).

Song lyrics inevitably reflect the language we all use to express ourselves said a British Phonographic Industry spokesman. “Back in the fifties and sixties public morality made it difficult for people to speak as openly as they wanted and it’s likely that love was simply a euphemism for sex“.

And were songs any worse for that? Using allegory and imagery rather than misogynistic, in your face, puerile language?

I’ll leave you with a song from the great Bobby “Blue” Bland ” from 1974 (also Whitesnake’s first hit)


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Most rock stars do die before they get old

guitar_on_fire_1600_wht_12846New research has found that pop and rock musicians do die on average younger the rest of us – but only by 20 not 50 years.

Sex, drugs and alcohol play a part but suicides, murders and accidents occur more often than in the general population. They were twice as likely to die  from accidents and suicide than other Americans and six times more likely to be murdered.

You might argue there are exceptions like Keith Richards or Leonard Cohen not to mention Neil Young and Bob Dylan. But overall rock stars have the same life-expectancy of someone living in Zimbabwe. Women are more likely to make it to 60 but most male rock stars go to that great gig in the sky by the time they reach 50.

Professor Dianna Kenny, a professor of psychology and music at the University of Sydney (I’d like a job like that) who carried out the study on almost 13,000 musicians from all popular music genres (90% male) since 1950, also found that young rock stars need not fear the “curse of 27” which has no statistical significance.

This is the myth which grew out of rock musicians dying at that age:

  • Jim Morrison
  • Kurt Cobain
  • Brian Jones
  • Janis Joplin
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Amy Winehouse

Some famous musicians who died of natural causes beyond the age of 27 include Dusty Springfield (of breast cancer aged 59), George Harrison (of lung cancer aged 58), Michael Jackson (cardiac arrest aged 50), Jerry Garcia (heart attack aged 53), and Freddy Mercury (from AIDS aged 45).

Others who are still going strong and give me hope include David Bowie (67), Roger Daltry (70), Leonard Cohen (80), Paul McCartney (72), Bob Dylan (73), Keith Richards (70).