Flipping through the iTunes Store today, in the music section, I was intrigued by how many albums have “Explicit” labels. Among the top-selling albums, four of the top five have explicit labels, and 26 of the top 100 albums feature such labels.
It made me wonder why so much music is labelled as explicit? Is the labeling changing, becoming more strict, or are more artists writing songs with foul language?
I’d not bothered by this; quite the contrary, I think “explicit” language is part of language in general, and some of the great works of literature have been labeled as obscene before being exonerated (Leaves of Grass, Ulysses, Howl and many others).
I’m just a bit surprised that so many of these albums feature explicit songs. And I wonder about artistic integrity for those artists who also sell “clean” versions of their music. If an artist has something to say, can they really clean up the lyrics and still say the same thing? Or do the lyrics simply not matter that much?
For those who are not aware of how this all started, it was Tipper Gore, wife of the former Vice President (and nearly President), who spearheaded a movement to label music with explicit lyrics. I’m on the fence about whether this really serves any purpose. I’d rather see limits to violence in movies and TV shows than worry about a few curses on popular songs; the words don’t touch kids the way filmed violence does.