Love Songs Are Dying Out. Does This Mean We're The Least Romantic Generation Ever?
The Debrief: Apparently, music these days is less about love and more about sex. They're also more likely to objectify women. What does that say about us?
According to research, in our current era pop songs are less likely to be about love than at any point since the 1960s. Instead, they are much more likely to be about sex and the objectification of women.
The study, which was published in the journal Sexuality and Culture, analysed 1,250 songs that featured highly in the US Billboard charts and discovered that from 1960 to 2008, almost 60% of the songs had themes centred around romantic love, compared with 49% from 2000 to 2010. In addition to this, only 6% of songs by women and 7% of songs by men in the 1960s were about sex - this number has since grown to 21% for women and 40% for men.
'References to romantic relationships became less common over time, while references to sexual behaviour and the objectified bodies became more common,' claim the university researchers who undertook this study.
Apparently, the rise of R'n'B and rap music - which are genres often dominated by men - are a likely cause of these changes: 'these trends were slightly more apparent in songs performed by males than females. The changes seem to be driven by the rap genre, which did not place a song in the top 50 until the 1990s.' Songs like 'Lollipop' by Lil Wayne and 'Candy Shop' by 50 Cent can attest to this: both are highly sexually explicit and have very little references to love in a relationship sense. But, then again, Marvin Gaye's 'Let's Get It On' in 1973 and there's no denying that the main topic of that track is...sex.
So, does this mean that we're the least romantic generation ever? Probably not - we're just more open about sex and happy to discuss it using the medium of music. According to Gennaro Castaldo, a spokesman for the British Phonographic Industry, 'back in the fifties and sixties, public morality made it difficult for people to speak as openly as they wanted, and it's likely that "love" was simply a euphemism for sex'.
It's not just men, though. What's also interesting to note, is that in the last decade or so, the release of songs like 'Love, Sex and Magic' by Ciara and 'Promiscuous Girl' by Nelly Furtado can attest to the fact that women, in particular, are much more comfortable with openly discussing sex - and this shouldn't be seen as a bad thing.
While female singers still do sing about romantic love in a higher percentage of their songs, references to sexual relationships or associated metaphors have increased. That said, it's often music execs who have the final say on what does and doesn't get recorded and released so it's difficult to know who is driving that trend because, as the saying goes, 'sex sells.'
At least the advent of Spotify means you can access Al Green's entire back catalogue with just a few clicks if you're feeling a bit starved of romance.
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