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Do kids need to be saved from lyrics?


Despacito-AFP pix

Despacito-AFP pix

The saying goes that ‘the more you forbid someone from something, the more they would want that something’. 

“OH OH. Wee-ell-Now! Relax don’t do it. When you want to go to it. Relax don’t do it. When you want to come.”

It was 1984. I was in Form Five. And there I was shouting (singing) at the top of my lungs the song Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

Relax was number one on the UK singles chart on Jan 22, 1984. Frankie Goes To Hollywood, a British band, dominated 1984 with three singles; the other two were Two Tribes and The Power of Love.

A few years later, I found out that the song with the pulsating beat is widely considered a gay anthem.

On Wednesday, I remembered Relax when The Star Online reported that Angkatan Wanita Amanah Nasional (Awan) demanded radio stations in the country to stop playing Despacito, the Spanish hit song, because of its supposedly sexually explicit lyrics.

Awan’s Arts and Culture chairman Atriza Umar said she viewed it seriously as many young children were singing the song without actually understanding the lyrics.

The next day, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak announced that Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) would cease broadcasting the song on all its radio and television stations immediately. Salleh said the RTM evaluation panel decided to withdraw the approval to play it after a re-evaluation.

Despacito is a single by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi and Puerto Rican rapper Daddy Yankee, and it features Justin Bieber.

Last week, I began to notice the unavoidable song when it started to pop up on my Facebook feed. I ignored it. But the song was so viral that it couldn’t be ignored.

The catchy song is the most-streamed song in the world. On Wednesday, it was streamed 4.6 billion times across all platforms.

It seems Despacito is sexually suggestive. Translated to English, despacito means slowly.

And those Spanish lyrics that you have been singing means: “Let me trespass your danger zones/ Until I make you scream.”

Another example: “Come try my mouth and see if you like its taste/ I want to see how much love fits in you.”

Till now I don’t know what “danger zones” are.

Back to Relax. Did that song make me gay? Don’t think so.

Interestingly, when I googled Relax, I found out that the BBC had banned the song from radio and TV after Radio 1 DJ Mike Read objected to its saucy artwork and lyrics.

The ban was counterproductive. Relax climbed to No 1.

Growing up in the 1980s was growing up in the age of innocence. There was no Internet, YouTube or WhatsApp back then.

If we wanted information, we either went to the library or asked daddy. Information was sloooooow to trickle.

For example, it took me perhaps a decade to realise that Boy George, the lead singer of Culture Club, led an alternative lifestyle.

It didn’t occur to me that the androgynous Boy George, who wore makeup and occasionally skirts, was a cross dresser. I thought it was New Wave.

To get an idea of what New Wave was, watch music videos by Duran Duran and Wham!.

And boy oh boy, why didn’t my parents slap me for watching Culture Club music videos on rented Top of The Pops video tapes? Their only son could have turned gay.

I was Boy George’s No.1 fan in Kota Kinabalu but that didn’t make me get into drag or cause me to lead a massively alternative lifestyle.

Move to the 1990s. I was less innocent. From a smalltown boy, I was now living in Kuala Lumpur.

The sexiest ballad of that decade or ever was I’ll Make Love To You by Boyz II Men. The lyric goes: “Close your eyes, make a wish. And blow out the candlelight. For tonight is just your night. We’re gonna celebrate, all thru the night.”

The song didn’t make me into a sex addict or sex fiend. For me, it was just a song. While writing this article, I’m watching the video of the song on YouTube. And I’m reminded of how sexy this song is.

Wonder if we should ban I’ll Make Love To You as it is sexually suggestive.

Apsara, my nine-year-old daughter, sings Despacito. Should I forbid her from singing or listening to the sexually-charged song?

No, I won’t. I’ve learnt that the more you forbid someone from something, the more they would want that something.

(There are many examples of this on YouTube. I shall not go into details. But the forbidden fruit can be so tempting.)

Plus, although Apsara knows a bit of Spanish from watching Dora The Explorer, I don’t think she knows what the lyrics of Despacito mean. And what she doesn’t know, won’t harm her.

I hope I’m right.

I don’t want her to grow up messed up because her daddy failed to forbid her from singing and listening to Despacito.

If not, Apsara might be singing Tears for Fears’ Shout, one of the most iconic 1980s songs. The lyrics, according to Quora, refers to the use of “a therapeutic form of screaming to ‘let it all out’ in dealing with psychological baggage from childhood trauma”.

“Shout. Shout. Let it all out. These are the things I can do without. Come on. I’m talking to you. Come on.”

One Man s Meat , Philip Golingai

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