In my latest attempt to analyze pop culture, I have translated the lyrics of the top five singles on The Billboard Hot 100 chart so those out there, like myself, who think most pop music is mindless will feel reassured knowing they aren’t missing much by turning off their radio, (television, computer, etc.)
By doing so, I don’t really intend on making a moral judgment about the lyrics, even though some I’ve read undoubtedly warrant a parental advisory sticker. My interest in analyzing lyrics stems more from a desire to productively channel sarcasm than a desire to censor poor grammar, expletives and egotism. I’m one of those people who believes if you don’t like what you’re hearing or seeing, turn it off, rather than ban it for others who do.
A couple of the songs below by the rapper Akon, who apparently has two of the top five singles on the chart, were so explicit I wasn’t sure I could offer a diluted translation without being too graphic, but I have tried my best to do so.
Here are the top five songs Americans are currently listening to:
1. “Irreplaceable,” performed by Beyonce: According to the lyrics, Beyonce uses “the ‘n’ word” in the first line of this song. She apparently believes the guy she’s with is stupid and tells him to get his bags out of the Jaguar she paid for. When he tells her she’ll never find a man as good as him, Beyonce sets him straight, telling him he’s replaceable. Then she tells him to phone the girl he’s been seeing behind her back. Basically, it’s an anthem for women who need to kick their man to the curb.
2. “I Wanna Love You,” performed by Akon and featuring Snoop Dogg: In this very explicit song, the rapper Akon sings about watching an exotic dancer in a club and says he wants to love her, hence the song title. Snoop Dogg follows, rapping about getting to know a woman more intimately at a motel, and that’s all that can be said about what occurs there. Akon also raps about getting up close and personal with a stripper, and says he’s a former drug dealer who spends money “like it dont mean nuthin.” This song also contains “the ‘n’ word.” There’s been a lot of discussion about “the ‘n’ word” lately, and I think it’s interesting that the top two songs on the Billboard chart contain it. It’s also interesting that the two rappers choose to take their “love” interests to motels, considering how much money they brag about having in the song. I mean, you wouldn’t think a Hilton or Marriott would be out of the question if you spend money “like it dont mean nuthin.”
3. “Fergalicious,” performed by Fergie: This song is pretty much an opportunity for Fergie, a.k.a. Stacy Ferguson of the Black Eyed Peas, to gloat about how great she is. She sings that she’s not easy or sleazy, countering rumors of her promiscuity, and says the boys are lining up around the block for her. She also brags about her body and says her fitness regimen helps her keep in shape.
4. “Smack That,” performed by Akon with Eminem: Akon raps about asking a woman to ride in his expensive car to his home so he can get to know her better (a very diluted translation). He also brags about how much money he has, and raps about watching exotic dancers. Strippers seem to be of great interest to Akon, who also rapped about them in the previously mentioned song “I Wanna Love You.” Eminem also raps, equating women with prostitutes.
5. “My Love,” performed by Justin Timberlake with T.I.: Justin Timberlake confesses his love, saying he’s been around the world but hasn’t found another woman like the one he’s with. He proposes marriage to the woman, singing about his vision of their future together.