Musical Purgatory

Ke$ha–taken from The 305.

Mississippi is a bit like alien country, and by alien I mean I wouldn’t be surprised if I met someone there with an extra set of slimy, bulging eyes underneath their armpits. It’s a place that I’ve never understood, and when I’m there I’m astounded by the amount of cowboy boots and the bodies that fill them spitting out brownish crud from their crooked mouths.

It’s also difficult to find music in the area, but since the blues essentially came to fruition in the Mississippi Delta, it is always an overwhelming presence. However, it is a ghostly presence, and if anyone wants to experience musical purgatory, go to Mississippi.

The variety of music found in Mississippi is perhaps a step-up from what one would find in Walmart: top 40 pop and country, with a bit of rap thrown in on the side, and then some obscure local roots music that people hear in bars but never buy on disc.

Yesterday, I was in Bay St. Louis for a wedding, and the last time I was there it had been bulldozed by Hurricane Katrina and nothing existed except for a Waffle House. Since that time businesses have reopened, a quaint community hall has been built, and it has slowly returned to the relaxed beach community it once was. The town even has a popular ska band.

The coastal region of Mississippi is definitely different from the rest of the state, but when surrounded by my relatives and their friends who come from the surrounding areas, it doesn’t make any difference.

A second-rate band was hired for the wedding, and before they played stereotypical wedding music and Fats Domino covers, I stood by the stage and watched them set up. A little girl came up to me and told me she loved rock ‘n’ roll, and I instantly became curious as to what little kids in Mississippi were listening to, especially ones that claimed they loved rock.

I asked who some of her favorites were. “Kesha,” she said. I was immediately disappointed, but at the same time intrigued. She was only eight years-old, and it was startling to me that she knew who Ke$ha even was. I attempted to test her knowledge of the artist and asked her to sing one of her songs, and without hesitation she spit out the lyrics to the song “Cannibal.” It was especially hilarious to hear the girl sing the line: “But now that I’m famous/you’re up my anus.”

“Do you know what that song means?” I asked. “No,” she said. “I only know that she likes to eat people.”

During my series of questions, the little girl told me that she had learned of Ke$ha through Nickelodeon, on the show Victorious, in which the song “Blow” was performed. Now she listens to Ke$ha on youtube and knows all of her hits, but there’s one song–that she knows of–that she’s not allowed to listen to because it has a curse word in it: the song “Blah Blah Blah.”

It was a confession that left me perplexed, because basically if the songs “Cannibal” and “Blah Blah Blah” are compared, one could find that the lyrics both display promiscuous, skanky behavior, yet the meaning is more direct in one song than it is in the other. “I eat boys up, breakfast and lunch/Then when I’m thirsty, I drink their blood,” is merely a horror story version of “Don’t be a little bitch with your chit chat/Just show me where your dick’s at.”

That may be a stretch, but because a song contains curse words, does that make it worse than a song with veiled references and images that potentially mean the same thing?

Johnny Depp turning kid’s brains into mush at the 24th Annual Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards. It’s sad that children choose such things–taken from Zimbio.

Nickelodeon, a network famous for snot and slime, is watched by children who are still developing cognitively, and when Ke$ha is marketed to them their brains literally turn into snot and slime. The network is an influence, and even if a cleaner song about partying, such as “Blow,” is played on a television show – while the plot of the episode is to desperately scrounge for tokens that lead to a grand prize of a private Ke$ha concert – kids are still going to be interested in seeking out that music, leading them to find out the not-so-Nickelodeon version of their new found artist.

It made me think of all the times I had felt that time had stopped or never began while I was in Mississippi, and made me wonder if the state is a small representation of how ass-backwards the entire country is.

  1. tygoff said:

    I really enjoyed this blog! It was very entertaining. I think it’s interesting that Nickelodeon would even play a song by an artist like Ke$ha; usually their songs are by their child actors or America’s sweetheart types of kids. Personally, I don’t think that a song with curse words is worse than a song with veiled references; songs can still be explicit without the use of vulgar language. Nice post!

  2. I love the way you start this post with a colorful description of Mississippi. That place doesn’t make any sense to me either. I agree with Ty about songs being explicit even without the use of vulgar language, however I think veiled references do more harm than blatant swearing.

    For instance, when I was ten my mom confiscated my copy of Limp Bizkit’s Chocolate Starfish and Hotdog Flavored Water because of the obvious use of swearwords. Yet she took me to see NSYNC three times throughout elementary school. It wasn’t until the summer after 4th grade that she noticed NSYNC’s use of veiled sexual references, but it was too late. My camp friends and I choreographed a dance to NSYNC’s “Digital Get Down,” and performed it in front of all the parents on visiting day. My parents were mortified. I genuinely thought this was a futuristic song about the benefits of living in a digital world. I had no idea this was a lewd song about web cam sex until my mom told me so. I knew the Limp Bizkit album was bad news (I kept it hidden in my sock drawer) because the constant use of swear words made it obvious. But that’s why I listened to it in private and never dared to quote it. Had I known “Digital Get Down” was about sex, I wouldn’t have danced to it in front of my entire camp and everyone’s families. I doubt I would have even learned about what digital sex was, had it not been for NSYNC’s veiled references.

    I wish I could say this sort of thing only happens in a place like Mississippi, but I’m from Connecticut. Little girls everywhere listen to and watch inappropriate material featured in children’s television. Three years ago, Disney star Miley Cyrus released the music video for her song “Can’t Be Tamed,” which featured the 17-year-old star of the children’s hit show Hannah Montana brazenly cage dancing half-naked. Her fan base ranges between six and 13-year-old girls. Unfortunately it seems the entire country, not just Mississippi, is ass-backwards.

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