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Explicit music, crass, or powerful?

Just about every song has curse words, swear words, expletives, and vulgarity in it nowadays, even those aimed at younger audiences. This may not top the list of controversial subjects, but there's certainly debate about censorship and what's aimed at children.

Some people argue that their rude meanings shouldn't be taught to children while others believe they're just words, but I'm not going to question people's moral standpoint on this issue. The true concern I have with it is the overuse.

The more risqué words in the English language do serve a purpose. They are powerful words in meaning and sound. They're the very first words to come out when we're excited, angry, or surprised. In this effect, we associate them with emotions, and strong ones at that.

In music, as well as every day speech, this is true. But it seems that whenever I listen to any song's unedited version after hearing it on the radio, I'm practically laughing from how stupid it sounds when these words are forced into the lyrics. The most recent one I heard was Enrique Iglesias' "Tonight (I'm Loving You)." Outside of the radio edit though, loving is replaced with a very different word which I'm sure you can figure out, and playing into the chorus as it does, it makes the song seem more like the comedy music of Stephen Lynch or Adam Sandler than anything that's meant to be taken seriously.

Another contender is the Black Eyed Peas. Their song "Imma Be" sounds safe on the radio, and then in the unedited version, every line of the chorus ends with the N-word. Is there a point? Absolutely not.

Perhaps it’s a counter culture sort of thing, from when everyone is kids and told not to say these words. Perhaps it’s because they realize these are powerful words that evoke emotion and try to make their song better with them, but as is, they just sound ridiculous.

People jump on these things quickly, I realize, and perhaps they want to provoke bad publicity, as it’s better than no publicity. But if you're already famous in the music world, shock is something hard to provoke.

Swears are overlooked in movies, music, and some TV shows, because they are a natural part of speech and make it feel more real. In speeches, they can provoke the strong emotion that they are meant to. But there is a difference between repetition and abuse, and songs lately take it to that extreme that I can't help but make fun of the artist or even listen to the song seriously.

If you're an aspiring writer or musician, really think the next time you try to make something very emotional. Don't be crass, don't be crude, and don't make yourself sound silly unless you're really trying to. You might even scare a fan off by giving them the wrong impression of what genre you play.

Just say it out loud and really ask yourself, “Does this provoke what I want, or would I laugh if I heard it coming from someone else?” If the former isn't what you have, just take it out.

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