Monday, August 8, 2011

Got about 20 minutes before the work whistle blows..

So let's talk about censorship.  Well, an part of censorship that is often not talked about:  Radio edits of popular songs.

Ever listen to a song on the radio, find it really catchy, then get the album and go "Whoa, wasn't expecting THAT!"  Maybe it was hearing Thom Yorke sing "You're so fucking special" for the first time in Radiohead's  Creep.  When I first bought Hawksley Workman's Lover/Fighter (well, actually my friend bought it and burned it for me, and burned herself a copy of Between the Beautifuls that I had bought after his show at the Danforth Music Hall back in 2007, but I digress) and popped in my car stereo, I *may* have nearly driven off the road when the first line of We Will Still Need a Song chimed in with a resounding "Fuck you, you're drunk and acting tough...".  Up until then, I had heard only the radio-friendly lyrics "Baby, you're drunk etc etc"

On occasion I find the radio edit preferable to the uncensored version.  For years, I loved the innocent first-gushing-mooshy-puppy love feel of Liz Phair's Why Can't I with lines like:

Here we are, we're at the beginning
We haven't kissed yet but my head is swimming

When I heard the unedited version that replaced 'kissed' with 'fucked' I just felt kind of... bleh.  Like some of the uncynical, unjaded innocence I had always read into the song was lost.  Of course, I wasn't totally aware at the time that Liz Phair was all about jaded cynicism.  To this day, when I play this song, I refused to sing the original lyrics.

The album version of Eminem's breakout hit Hi, My Name Is was another one that left me cold.  I found the radio edit fun and mischevious.. Eminem was a troublemaker, a bit of a miscreant but in a likeable way, kind of like a grown-up fucked up Dennis the Menace.  Of course the album version is a lot closer to what we were to expect from Eminem.. violent, mysogynistic etc.  Meh.

The latest one to get my goat is Enrique Iglesias' Tonight I'm Loving (Fucking) You (depending on the edit). The radio edit is irritating at best, but the album edit is creepy and downright rapey.  Come on, Enrique.  What happened to you?  Once upon a time you were all "Oh, I could be your hero, baby" and now this?  I guess the bloom is off the rose and all attempts at romance have gone right out the door.  Now you just sound like the asshole boyfriend who was all nice and sensitive and on his best game in the beginning but now his idea of foreplay is "Hey, wanna screw?"

What would your dad say, Enrique?

Addenendum:  In response to this piece, I got the following string of text messages from The Danno and I felt I should share:

"Oh poor, sweet, innocent 'Drea - if only you'd heard the original cut to "Hero" it may not have come as such an ugly revelation... I can be your hero baby (with my cock) I can kiss away the pain (with my cock)"

"Enrique has always been a rapey pig and a disappointment to his father-soft core conservative radio edits only masked it from us for the last few years ;-)"


  1. Most of the time I'm not a fan either.. especially when it's a pretty innocuous phrase they're taking out (ie. our local station used to take out the line "Let's roll another joint" from Tom Petty's You Don't Know How it Feels)

    But I sometimes I get really used to the radio edit and have a hard time coming to grips with the actual radio versions. Sometimes swearing brings a point home, but other times it just seems superfluous. wooo, shock value. Blah.

  2. I don't listen to the radio, and language doesn't bother me. Quite honestly, the majority of music I listen to has no lyrics so I don't get distracted while writing. Except when I write blog posts. For some reason, when writing them, I need 80's hair rock.

  3. Some places sell an explicit version and a clean version. I'd rather have the explicit.

  4. "Enrique has already been a rapey pig" That line killed me. The worst is when you accidentally buy the family friendly edited version of an entire CD. As a child i mistakenly bought a Wu Tang edited CD. It was missing...something.

  5. Radio edits suck. I don't listen to music that customarily has a lot of cuss words in it (read that as rap), so when an occasional word is there it is for a reason.

  6. Being offended by language is a choice that adults make. I blame the censors for editing out the lyrics. Don't albums have stickers on warning of explicit lyrics.

  7. Ah, radio edits... the hip hop-head's nemesis. 90% of radio edits are bastardizations of the authentic album cut... but that other 10% are actually BETTER than the album cut, either from a lyrical standpoint or from a musical standpoint (or both). For artistic merit, I will ALWAYS prefer the album cut, even if it's not the version of the song that I'd really prefer to listen to on a regular basis.

    I don't think I have a single radio edit amongst the 3815 songs I have on my drive, unless that's the version that was actually ON the CD (which happens occasionally). A lot of times, the radio edit makes the song sound ridiculous (Cee Lo's Forget You is a clear example, as Fuck You rolls a lot better of the tongue, as well as fitting the cadence of the song better), or there are SO many edits that you wonder why the song is being played in the first place.

    I DO see your point, however, and I'll occasionally sing/rap the radio versions while listening to the uncut versions, but mostly out of habit.

  8. @Tony .. it's not about being offended by the album edit, just about how sometimes (in the cases cited above) I might like the radio version better. Believe you me, if you saw my cd collection, I'm not one to be offended by swearing... just every so often I think it could have been done better without.

  9. I'm hoping that at some point we tire of being crass and go back to having some nuance...


  10. bizarre that there are two versions. I don't listen to the radio either so its really news to me.


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