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Are Popular Music Too Sexual?

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Title: Are popular music too sexual?

Aim: To examine whether the sexuality in popular music is too explicit by analysing the image, choreography and lyrics of Beyoncé's music

Music in these days, especially popular music, has always had a close association with sex or love. We can see many songs with lyrics related to romantic love and physical attraction. Some are so clear and exact in their references to sex. Some singers exploit their own sex appeal in order to attract fans. Music nowadays also widely connected with dancing and nightclubs. The sexuality of popular music becomes more obvious that the portrayal of it has become less subtle but more explicit, it is too obvious to such an extent that make people think artists start to use it as a selling point of their music.

A research was done recently by Department of Psychology in State University of New York, they examined the lyrics of 174 songs from three Billboard charts: Country, Pop and R&B. Approximately 92% of the 174 songs that made it into Top Ten in 2009 contained one or more reproductive message, and there was an average of 10.49 reproductive phrases per song. In the research, the four most frequent reproductive categories in pop songs were sex appeal, reputation, short-term strategies and fidelity assurance. The top four most frequent reproductive categories for R&B songs were sex appeal, resources, sex act and status. Apparently, popular song contains more reproductive message nowadays. But is the portrayal of sexuality too explicit in popular music?

There are a lot of popular stars like Madonna, Lady Gaga, Rihanna amd Beyonce that people symbol them as a sexual tool to sell music. The reason is mostly about the way they dress and the way they interpret their music. Their images were often considered to be too sexually provocative. But other than that, the message they try to express through the music also matter a lot.

There is no doubt that Beyonce is popular in the pop music industry and she is symbol as a sexy popular star. There is a website called AskMen that has 20 million readers worldwide did a Top 99 Most Desirable Women list in 2007 and Beyoncé ranked No.1, and she consistently ranked high on the list in the following years. Also Beyoncé was chosen as the " World's Most Beautiful Woman" in 2012 by People Magazine. It shows that she has a kind of image that most of people think its perfect, flawless and attractive or even sex appeal. By observing her image in music video, she defiantly is a great representative of sexuality because she always wears clothes that complement her curves in her music video and live concert. She epitomised the independent and sexy post-feminist woman. Also, her dance moves are always considered as sexy and seductive.

Beyoncé Giselle Knowles, known as Beyonce, was born on 4 of September in 1981 in Houston, Texas. She rose to fame in the late 1990s as the lead singer of Destiny's Child, one of the world's best-selling girl groups of all time. In 2003, she released her first album, "Dangerously in Love" with two no.1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. She won five Grammy Awards in the same year. Her second album "B-day" was released in 2006, which spawned three top ten singles. The third album "I am... Sasha Fierce" helped her won six Grammy Awards in 2010. The fourth album was released in 2011, which debuted at No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 chart. She is becoming more and more popular in the pop music industry.

From her first album " Dangerously in love" to the latest album "4", the song are mostly about love, sexual appeal. Her music videos are mostly presented in a svelte way. The choreography and the image are always sexy and attractive. By simply looking at her first albums cover, she can be considered as naked because she is just wearing a piece of accessory.

Starting from Beyoncé's first album, her music starts showing the sexuality intentionally from the start of her career. One of her song "Naughty Girl" in her first album " Dangerously in love" won Best Female Video at the 2004 MTV Video Music Awards. If we analyse the lyrics, we will see the clear depiction of sexual attraction. As she sings "Tonight I'll be your naughty girl...I know you want my body" and " you're so sexy, tonight I am all yours, boy. The way your body moves across the floor feeling kind of NASTY, I might just take you home with me", these lyrics are showing the sexual attraction between two sexes overtly. Beyoncé did not involve in this song writing but she was the co-producer of the music video.

At the beginning of the music video, there are Beyoncé and a few dancers on stage showing the shade of their dance move. Then Beyoncé strips the dress off. The images are seductive and it is showing the body shape of her and the dancers. Then she took off the red coat and dance flirtatiously with Usher in a club. After that, she was playing around in a massive champagne glass. The choreography in this song is very sexually provocative. The dance moves involve a lot of hip movement. Also, she sings in a breathy way in order to express the seductiveness in this song. Beyoncé and dancers are both scantily clad in the video.

For her current album, "4", the album has sold over 1 million copies in the U.S. since it release. The first single in the album "Run the world (Girls)" was released in 2011 that reached the top ten in several worldwide charts. Being a writer and producer of the song, Beyoncé is clearly promoting female empowerment, which seems to work. Because people tend to think she changes the style of her music as she used to sing. When the song is released, the music it self was not what most of the people talking about. Instead, It was the overt "girl power" message. By analysing the lyrics, it is clear that they are polarizing as she sings, " Run the world Girls" and "Strong enough to bear the children then get back to business". But if we analyse the image and choreography of the song, it seems contradict to what she is trying to express. Clearly, it shows a strong female empowerment that is against patriarchy but the sexy image and the dance moves seem as similar as the music she was selling before. Critically saying, the music still appears to be sexual in a visual way. The proclamation of girl power did work in this song, but if we think about it deeply, will this song be as popular as other song without the sexy image and choreography? Beyoncé's lyric aim to prove the role of woman is not just raising children at home but also



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