Question 2: Language, sexuality and music – discuss the relationship between language, sexuality and popular music production (you can focus on one song or several, up to you)
Music is prevalent in our lives. As a matter of fact, all cultures have their own type of music. Popular music production these days are centralized around the notion of sex. Research has shown that about 92% of the 174 songs studied, contained ‘reproductive messages’ (Grandoni, 2011). Reproductive messages here would, of course, be referring to messages about sex. It was also noted that songs that made it to the top ten chart have more sexual messages(Grandoni, 2011).
The song Bed by J. Holliday is one of the many popular songs that contain sexual messages. There is an excerpt of lyrics which says “wrap me in your legs, and love you til’ your eyes roll back, I’m tryna put you to bed” . Even though it is a short sentence of lyrics, it is clear that the song is trying to draw a mental picture of the sexual activity so that listeners are able to imagine the situation. The lyrics are clearly and perfectly describing the sexual activity in detail. Therefore, when listeners are able to imagine the sexual activity, it will arouse the listeners.
Another song that we can take a look at is Peacock by Katy Perry. The lyrics to the song is “Are you brave enough to let me see your peacock? Don’t be a chicken boy, stop acting like a beeotch”. From the lyrics, the peacock is definitely not referring to the animal peacock but it is an innuendo for penis. Even Katy Perry said that her song Peacock is like the world’s biggest innuendo and stated that songs with her would have a lot of double entendres. Hence, innuendos are used in lyrics of popular music to make the song more enjoyable and to let the listener’s imagination run wild.
In conclusion, popular music usually contains explicit sexual messages in their lyrics be it in the form of a description of the sexual activity or as an innuendo. The play with listener’s imagination and arousal through words is the key factor in making the song successful. Hence, there is definitely a relationship between language, sexuality and popular music production.
Question 3: Give a brief intro to the notion of ‘performativity’ to someone who’s got no clue about it. Illustrate with examples pertaining to language and sex(uality) and/or desire.
Performativity can be defined as the underlying conditions that make performance possible (Cameron & Kulick, 2003). In addition, according to Austin (1997), performatives are language as action. Examples of performativity utterances are such as ‘I hereby now pronounce you husband and wife’ or ‘I promise you’. Therefore, performativity is an action that is conveyed through words in speech. In other words, performativity is a speech act. The difference between performativity and performance is that performativity is a process through which a subject is creating while performance is what a subject does and it is only one dimension of performativity.
An example of a performative act in relation to sexuality can be seen in male conversations which involve gossiping about gay men. The gossiping about gay men is a performative act of speaker’s heterosexuality (Cameron & Kulick, 2003). They are trying to validate their sexuality as a straight man by showing strong dislike for gay men and by bringing gay men down. Another example of performativity can be seen in drag queens who uses linguistic styles that index socially conflicting positions (Cameron & Kulick, 2003).
Austin, J. L. 1997 , How To Do Things with Words, 2nd edn, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Cameron, D., & Kulick, D. (2003). Language and Sexuality
Grandoni, D. (2011). 92% of Top Ten Billboard Songs Are About Sex. The Atlantic. Retrieved 18 April 2018, from https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/09/92-top-ten-billboard-songs-are-about-sex/337242/
J Holliday bed lyrics – Google Search. Google.com.sg. Retrieved 18 April 2018, from https://www.google.com.sg/searchq=J+Holliday+bed+lyrics&oq=J+Holliday+bed+lyrics&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.4359j0j1&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
katy perry peacock – Google Search. Google.com.sg. Retrieved 18 April 2018, from https://www.google.com.sg/searchq=katy+perry+peacock&oq=katy+perry+peacock&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i60j0l4.6230j0j9&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
Vena, J. (2010). Katy Perry Says ‘Peacock’ Is ‘The World’s Biggest Innuendo’. MTV News. Retrieved 18 April 2018, from http://www.mtv.com/news/1646372/katy-perry-says-peacock-is-the-worlds-biggest-innuendo/