People often complain that today’s pop music is so vulgar. In actuality, it’s less vile than a lot of 60s/70s rock (gangsta rap aside). Britney Spears is singing about casual hook-ups, but the Rolling Stones sang about slave rape. So in a way, society has grown less tolerant of vulgarity.
Yet 60s/70s music was not saturated with fornication like today’s is. This seems especially true for women singers. Today a female pop singer has to whore herself in the lyrics for anyone to pay attention. Male singers also are obsessed with sex, to be sure, but it’s not the same brick-in-your-face that women singers peddle.
Bands like the Beatles and Led Zeppelin had lines referencing sex, but it was almost never the main subject of a song, and even if it was, there was a greater message and art to it beyond mere mechanical release. This was in part because before 1970s porn, sex was very straightforward and bland. But it is also because society’s expectations of relationships have changed.
The End Of The Fairy Tale
So while our sex anthems today are more gratuitous, our love ballads are far more simplistic. Why is this? Because people don’t date anymore. They hop from raft to raft, but men and women do not want the responsibility of trusting another person or of being trusted themselves. Outside the iron fist of religion, you can barely even find a woman under the age of 20 who has had less than three partners. Sure, they still embrace the tingling giddiness of infatuation, but that doesn’t make it anything long-lasting or personable.
When was the last time you met someone past high school with a girlfriend? Too much trouble. People don’t want to romance anymore. This includes both men and women. They barely even want to date. Just catch and release.
In 1965, The Beach Boys had a song, “She Knows Me Too Well.”
Sometimes I have a weird way of showing my love
And I always expect her to know what I’m thinking of
This was a break from the triteness of love songs. Very introspective and vulnerable. It feels like the singer actually experienced it, as though he wrote the song in his bedroom after having a fight with his girlfriend.
I treat her so mean I don’t deserve what I have
And I think that she’ll forgive just by making her laugh
But it wasn’t the only song like this at the time. Love was “the” topic of songs, and so bands had to find as many ways to express it as possible to keep from being stale.
…Or Lack Thereof
Today, most bands couldn’t write a song like that because they haven’t experienced the emotions the lyrics talk about. They’ve likely haven’t seen it in other people either. I mean, sure, flashes here and there, and perhaps they had a serious thing going in high school. But people don’t want to have the kind of vulnerability in that song. It’s too risky.
So there are no great love songs anymore because people do not fall in love anymore. After all, love is a choice. Infatuation can happen whether you desire it or not, but to trust yourself to someone and seek for their greater good is an action. But we still need to write these kinds of songs, so we replace love with sex. Today we have porn songs . And if the artist doesn’t want the songs to be too graphic, then he makes it into an infatuation song. Same thing.