Does Censoring Profanity in Music Diminish the Musician’s Message?

I picked up the new Pink cd the other day for her album, The Truth About Love. What I noticed is that a lot of her music this time around is filled with profanity. Personally, I don’t mind because I really like her music. But then it got me to start wondering about the purpose behind swearing in music, whether it was necessary, and whether or not the song would change its meaning by filtering out the swearing. This was brought home to me on the shuttle bus trip from the parking lot, when I heard “Blow Me (one last kiss)” on the radio speaker playing on the shuttle. The song, from Pink’s new album, is the first release, and the words “fuck” and “shit” appear quite frequently, including a part where the chorus sings: “I’ve had a shit day/You’ve had a shit day/We’ve had a shit day”. The radio version doesn’t even try to address this, basically sounding like: “I’ve had a it day/You’ve had a it day/We’ve had a it day”. In other words, they just removed the voiced part of the song to make the word miss the “sh” sound to it. This got me to wondering if the song actually still maintains the same meaning. The complaint in the song is that she wants to break up with whomever it she’s with and it’s part of the realization that she had a bad day, he had a bad day, and they both had a bad day, but she still needs to pull the trigger on the relationship. With “I’ve had a it day”, I’m not sure the point is completely made.

But going back to her previous album, Pink Greatest Hits…So Far, her hit F***** Perfect was probably the best example of the problem inherent in a musician trying to be mainstream, sell records, AND be played on the radio.  The actual song was titled Fucking Perfect, and she sings those words throughout the song, but in the radio version, the word “Fucking” is aired out, and all you hear is silence during that moment while she’s saying “Perfect” so you get the impression the song is called “Perfect”. What’s significant about this is that the whole song is about forced conformity, and her real dilemma is that people are forced to be “fucking perfect”, not just perfect. It’s somewhat ironic that the song is changed on her to conform to radio standards, and I would not have been surprised to hear that there were probably radio and studio executives who might have been advocating for her to call the song “Perfect” just to avoid the problems of disc jockeys not being able to say the correct name on the radio when announcing the song. What I did notice on the few radio stations I listed to was a tendency to just call it “Perfect.”

So, my question is: Does changing the author’s wording also change the meaning of the song? Granted, in some genres of music, and with some musicians, there is a tendency to add profanityjust to look cool or hip, but one thing I’ve always noticed about Pink’s lyrics is that she doesn’t appear to be doing it just to get a reaction. This latest album appears to have more blatant profanity than the previous one, but I’m still left thinking that that is just a part of her writing style, and that she probably talks a lot like she writes lyrics.

duaneDoes Censoring Profanity in Music Diminish the Musician’s Message?

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