This is my first time posting as part of Jen Kehl’s Twisted MixTape blog hop.
I’ve been reading some of the entries on this blog hop for a few weeks. Anyway, today’s assignment was a perfect way to jump in.
Here is it: Make a mix, any mix! Whatever speaks to you is AOK with me. Maybe you have a theme in your head, an idea to showcase. WHATEVER YOU WANT!
Wow. A few things jumped to mind.
And then I went to UTube and didn’t come out again for 3 (okay 4) hours (there was wine involved).
But here’s where I landed: The Miley Cyrus/Robin Thicke performance at the MMVAs a few weeks ago. I read a lot of the backlash as well as some of the more thoughtful writing about it. But I have to admit, mostly? I just felt OLD watching it. Disconnected. I didn’t GET it. On many levels.
And as the mother of two very young girls, I want to “get it”. Because they are going to be tweens engaging with our pop culture in – what’s going to seem like – a blink of an eye. I’d like to think when they are younger, I can keep them away from stuff aimed at older audiences, but I also know the odds of it “seeping in” are also pretty good.
And then, of course, I blinked.
And thought, hey!
Haven’t parents always felt like this about the next generation’s music and pop culture?
Wasn’t I ever edgy? Didn’t my parents ever fear what I was being exposed to as I sat listening to music and watching music videos?
And so with that introduction, MixTape25ers, I give you my five favourite songs when I was eleven and twelve, circa 1987-88:
My first pop princess was Tiffany:
I love, LOVE, LOVED her cover of “I Think We’re Alone Now.” And, looking back, I suspect my father – being a Beatles fan – was probably pretty tickled about me latching on to this song.
As for the video? She spends most of it running about and singing and dancing in jeans and a sweatshirt. Heck! They even do a beach scene and she doesn’t wear a bathing suit, let alone a bikini!
As far as Tiffany is concerned? Edgy is rocking it at the mall.
Boys? She likes them, sure. But they’re in no way the focus. This is a video about her being happily, fully, successfully, herself.
And that must have worked, because she TOTALLY dated a NEW KID, right?
So as far as defining “girly” in 1988 goes, I give you video #2. New Kids on the Block’s You Got it (The Right Stuff):
I first noticed the existence of the New Kids in Grade 6 with this song. By Grade 8, they were hanging in my locker. Of course I LOVED them. But mainly because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. I had a girlfriend who vowed to love them FOREVER!!! Even AFTER everyone else had moved on. I suspect I was supposed to be awed by the devotion. Instead, I remember thinking, why?
But as far as corrupting influence goes? NKOTB here was pretty benign. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen the E! True Hollywood Story. But as far the Kids at this stage go? Based on the video, the worst that might happen is, after playing a game of tag in the “edgy” cemetery (or if you watched the Tiffany video, maybe ROCKIN’ it at the mall – because she’d totally hinted there that there was some guy in the wings who’d, like, just drive her places because she rocked the acid wash and sweat tops), they are old enough (with the exception, perhaps of Joey) to drive me home.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. That’s the teenybopper stuff. Of course it’s tame. Fear not! In Grade 6 I also fell in love with the Escape Club and their (one and only) hit single “Wild, Wild West”.
We had a talent contest in Grade Six, and my friend and I chose to do a dance to this song.
Everything went fine in my Roman Catholic classroom until we hit the line about how the singer wanted women to “gimme, gimme safe sex”.
At which point our teacher smirked and my friend and I figured out we weren’t going to win the competition.
I’d point out it was also the first time I gave the lyrics of the song any thought whatsoever. At any rate, I now also wonder, having re-watched the video if the line “I don’t care as long as she comes tonight” also played a role in my teacher’s offence.
But that brings us to the “s” word. SEX. At that age, I must have been looking for naughty songs, right? Sure. I wasn’t unfamiliar with the fine stylins’ of 2LiveCrew. We played them on a Ghetto Blaster on the far hill at recess mostly with the aim of getting in trouble (we were successful).
But the album I really wanted to buy? George Micheal’s Faith! Aside from liking the other songs there was, of course, I Want Your Sex!
Let’s recap, shall we? The song is about him TOTALLY wanting to have sex with you. But only if you are okay with it. Because, as he sings out to a generation of men listening: “Sometimes you think you’re gonna get it. But you don’t. And that’s just the way it goes.” The need for consent? One of the lines in the song actually asks, “Can we do it?” Not really any blurred lines there.
Sure, the woman in the video struts around in her underwear; but he’s also busy writing the word “monogamy” all over her and singing about how sex is best when it’s “one on one”. Granted – I’m pretty sure I didn’t SEE the video until years later - but the messaging in the song - once you got over the flash of it – was positive.
Which brings me to my last pick. I remember trying to find this slightly older song, specifically because I thought it was “bad” and “edgy”.
With that intro I give you Janet. And Miss Jackson if you’re Nasty!
I know what I loved about this song in my teens. It was catchy. The older kids liked it. It was about bad boys. What’s not to love?
Listening to this song and watching the video as a parent? Here’s what I LOVE about it now: Janet is so obviously confident about herself and comfortable in her surroundings. There is no fear as she moves between groups of people. She is fabulously and fully clothed but still so obviously feminine and sexy.
And then there’s her rules for engagement: “I’m not a prude, I just want some respect. So close the door if you want me to respond. ‘Cause privacy is my middle name. My first name is control. No. My first name ain’t Baby. It’s Janet. Miss Jackson if you’re nasty!”
As a mom? Carry on Miss Jackson.
So let’s recap, shall we?
I’m thinking my mom, if she’d been listening closely to my music, might have surmised that, once I was old enough to fully understand all the messages, I probably got something like this from my early musical selections:
Sweetie, it’s a big world out there. And when you’re older, some man might ask to have sex with you, while using a condom, within a monogamous relationship, while focussing on your pleasure as much as his own. That said, you can say no and that’s acceptable. And if he ever makes untoward advances? Well, you just go all Miss Jackson on his ass. Or instead just throw on your favourite pair of jeans and sweat top, hit the mall, rock out, and be true to you!
I know I’m oversimplifying. But, looking back, that’s a good chunk of the messages I got from the music I listened to during my Wonder Years.
I figure when they hit their tweens, my daughters could do worse than to find music with that type of messaging. They are currently three and one – so we aren’t there yet. But my eldest has already faithfully loved Nicki Minaj’s “Pound the Alarm” since first hearing it on the radio about a year ago. So it isn’t like they aren’t already noticing pop culture. I just hope I’m ready when we hit it full tilt.
And when that happens? Maybe I’ll play them my five favourite songs from when I was that age.