This week’s Worst of Music comes from the comments of last week’s WoM post. AbandonCulture nominated Rihanna’s S&M performance from the Billboard Music Awards last weekend for this week’s WoM. Now, I know we’ve already done S&M on the WoM before but this live performance is just a whole new barrel of laughs and AC brings up a good point in her nomination that made me rethink my initial assessment of this song.
At first, I thought that S&M was just your typical musical hyper-sexualization song that makes a splash based the controversy of the singer singing about sadomasochism. AbandonCulture contends that this song is an illustration of the dumbing down of music to in turn dumb down society. I can understand this argument. After all, we keep getting told that Rihanna and Britney are great and so is this song but they really aren’t. The popularity of this song, and just about every song that wins the WoM, shows that the decisions of music industry executives and radio station programmers are all that dictate what makes a song popular and people are willing to go along with it. S&M isn’t a particularly controversial song in the grand scheme of it. If pre-Weight Watchers Jennifer Hudson sang it, for example, no one would care because it’s not a “hot” artist singing it. That’s how this song can sell. Like one commenter on YouTube said, they’re acting like whores with this song and performance. Nobody seems to mind that but it sure doesn’t make society a better place when Britney and Rihanna say that dancing around like a slut will make you popular. At least Britney is giving off a more positive body image for kids than Rihanna or even circa-2000 Britney.
And not that it really matters but I’m convinced that while Rihanna does her own singing (or at least some of it), Britney is lip syncing her way though this performance. I know Britney hasn’t sung without the heavy aid of computers since the 20th century but even the Backstreet Boys are giving singing without autotune a try these days.
So congrats, Rihanna and Britney. You’ve won the prestigious Worst of Music award for this week.
Have a better WoM candidate for next week? Drop it in the comments.