Thursday, November 1, 2007

Sean Kingston is "Suicidal" on Black Radio, "In Denial" Elsewhere

So, I'm playing with AverageToddler (he is too big and too scrawng to still be referred to as AverageBaby anymore) last night, and since I'm trying to kick the TV habit but can't quite do it cold turkey, I flipped to the Radio Disney music channel so some noise was droning in the background. You know you can't just play with Matchbox™ cars without some sorta soundtrack. AverageFamily is just cinematic like that.

Radio Disney is usually a pretty "safe" station to play when you've got kids in the house or car. Most of the songs are goofy Hanna Montana and That's So Raven type stuff that the suburban tweens in my cul de sac probably bump in their iPod Nanos. It's obviously not my bag, but hey, you can't exactly "SuperMan that Ho'" around your kids either. Thus, I tend to have this station on whenever I feel the urge to listen to something around my son, nephews, or niece that won't make me feel like the corrupted ghetto-monger I really am deep inside.

Anyways, after one of those usual generic Suite Life of Zach and Cody songs goes off, I hear a familiar song from the Power/Hot/Jammin'/Kiss side of the FM dial cued up. It's that godawful Beautiful Girls song by that chubby kid Sean Kingston. I know you've heard this crap before, even if you're like me and don't even listen to Power/Hot/Jammin'/Kiss stations either. It uses the beat from the classic Ben E. King tune Stand By Me and is "sung" (recklessly into a vocoder) by this kid who looks like a young Biggie Smalls. Peep the video below if you've been living under a rock the past 6 months.

The song itself is pretty plain vanilla tween' puppy love fare, but the hook is what really, really annoys me. Sing along, kiddies...

You're way too beautiful girl
That's why it'll never work
You'll have me suicidal, suicidal
When you say it's over
Damn all these beautiful girls
They only wanna do you dirt
They'll have you suicidal, suicidal
When they say it's over
Yes, this dude is saying he basically wants to off himself when these beautiful girls inevitably kick him to the curb. Real positive message, dude.

Songs like Beautiful Girls remind me why I love AM radio so much, and only venture to the FM dial for traffic and weather.

Now if you're like me, you're wondering, how in the ham sammich can Disney, makers of all things beautiful, loving, and wonderful about this world, play a song about offing yourself at 7pm?

Answer: They don't.

The hook for the kid-friendly version of Beautiful Girls is different.
You're way too beautiful girl
That's why it'll never work
You'll have me IN DENIAL, IN DENIAL
When you say it's over
Man all these beautiful girls
They only wanna do you wrong
They'll have you IN DENIAL, IN DENIAL
When they say it's over
I'm not naive about how radio-edits work. Of course Kingston's record label makes a clean version for the kiddies, as they should. After all, you don't want suburban tweens offing themselves. That's not good for the Disney image or bottom line, because these same kids need to buy those ridonculously overpriced Hannah Montana Live In Concert! tickets for Disney to keep turning a profit.

That said, I guess it does raise one question: why couldn't the hook on the original version of the song have simply said "in denial"? Would the kids who do like this song, assuming any exist, have really missed the whole "suicidal" angle had they not known it existed? How hard would it have been to simply make the cleaner version in the first place?

This question is obviously rhetorical, since I noted myself that the only reason the song was memorable to me is because of the word "suicidal". But really, why is it necessary? Without that word, the song would have been a nice, generic piece of radio-friendly drivel. With the word, it becomes a nice, offensive, potentially dangerous generic piece of radio-friendly drivel. Why was that really necessary?

Some digging around on this topic lead me to this not-so-startling discovery.
As rapper/singer Sean Kingston enters his third week at the top of Billboard's Singles Charts with his hit, "Beautiful Girls," MTV's popular video countdown show, "TRL," continues to edit out the word "suicidal" from the song's chorus, even as many radio stations and networks, including BET, air the original version.

"Because we know suicide is an issue that so many members of our audience struggle with, we do not take any references to suicide lightly," a spokeswoman for MTV explained to the New York's Daily News.

"With regards to Sean Kingston's 'Beautiful Girls,' we knew that the label had a version substituting 'suicidal' with 'in denial' so we gave them the option of submitting the version with 'in denial'," the rep continued.
So basically, MTV says it doesn't want to send bad messages about suicide to its' core viewers (ie: white suburbia), yet BET doesn't mind because its' core audience (ie: black kids) isn't nearly as effected.


Newsflash!: Suicide among black teens, the demographic that this song obviously was made for, has been on a dramatic rise of late. This is a conveniently hidden health crisis in the black community, since we love to dwell on the illusion that suicide is a "white problem". Such naivety allows us to deny the epidmic, while stupid and unnecessary songs like this might be encouraging misguided youth in ways one could only imagine.

Reverend Delman Coates and Enough is Enough!, get your pencils and paper ready.

Why did the song just have to include the word "suicidal"? Repeatedly.

This is a quandary to me, sorta like Crank Dat Soulja Boy. Why do artists always seem to take the low road when a neutral one could be just as effective? As much as I like the song and it's generally inoffensive dance, I can't shake the image of the Soulja Boy/SuperManning That Ho' as an ode to ejaculation. An ode to ejaculation getting thousands of spins a week and being played at professional, collegiate, and high school sporting events on a nightly basis. What. A. Country.

How hard would it have really been for Soulja Boy to just keep it clean? How come it's okay for Kingston to drop subliminals about suicide in the version of his song being played for urban audiences, but he has to clean it up for MTV and Disney? The world may never know, but I'm not about to stick around while they figure it out. I've got a future Rhodes Scholar to raise, so I don't have time for this kinda foolishness anyway.

Thank God for XM Kids.

MTV Kills Sean Kingston's "Beautiful" Lyrics, "We Do Not Take Any References To Suicide Lightly []

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