Are suggestive songs like 98 Degrees' 'Microphone' okay on-air?

7 May 2013 / 3 years 5 months ago

Source: The New PaperHey lady, grab the microphone and say 'do-re-mi-fa-so-oh-oh-oh', yeah baby, you're warmed up and ready to blow... croon 90s boy band 98 Degrees in their comeback hit, Microphone.That's sure to raise an eyebrow or two.Last time we checked, a more common (and normal) use for a microphone involves singing or speaking and while at it, surely more words would leave one's lips than a string of sensual "oh"s.It doesn't take much for an adult to figure out that this is one song you shouldn't take quite so literally.Still, Microphone by the US pop quartet is now playing on the airwaves.With various censorship guidelines in place, what makes suggestive songs like this one acceptable?Few brows were raised when Whistle ("You just put your lips together and you come real close, can you blow my whistle baby, whistle baby") by American rapper-singer Flo Rida received radio play last year. It was also a Billboard 100 top hit.The same goes for hits such as Thong Song by American R&B singer Sisqo and Get Low by American hip-hop group Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz.The former drives home a more obvious central point while the latter talks about "playing with 'yo' panty line", among other things.Then there's Katy Perry's Peacock, which has her demanding to see "your, peacock".These songs make sexual references, but are still allowed on radio.Radio DJs The New Paper spoke to are of the opinion that innuendos are a matter of perspective."You would only know the meaning behind (an explicit song) if you are exposed to it or if you're an adult. It's ambiguous in that sense," said HOT 91.3FM radio DJ Boy Thunder (real name Gerald Koh).Koh, 28, cited Milkshake ("My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard") by American singer Kelis as an example.Power 98 DJ Jamie Yeo, who co-hosts The Power Breakfast Show with Hubert Tang and Sonja Steinmetz, said regulations for such songs might be more relaxed because guidelines lean more towards protecting children."You can take it literally or figuratively and you only get it if you take a closer listen. I don't think children will catch it so easily," said Yeo, 35.Drawing a lineThe line is drawn - for good reason - when songs contains obvious expletives such as particular four-letter words.In these cases, the words are bleeped out, "reversed" digitally to obscure the actual expletives, or replaced with other sounds to hide the expletives.According to Media Development Authority's (MDA) Free-To-Air Radio Programme Code, song lyrics must not promote promiscuity, sexual perversions and violence, among, others.They must also be free of vulgarities and sexually suggestive sounds.Although Foster The People's Pumped Up Kicks does not contain expletives, the words "gun" and "bullet" are masked with claps."That is actually quite sensitive (because of its violent reference) and I agree that it's an example of a song that should be edited," said Koh.He explained that the radio station's music programmer makes the decision on what songs can and cannot be played on radio.Most versions of songs obtained from record labels, he added, are already appropriate for radio.Otherwise, the music programmer checks that all expletives are "bleeped" out or replaced, thus ensuring the songs are "clean".If songs go on air in breach of the rules, it may result in complaints from listeners to MDA.According to Koh, MDA may issue a warning to the radio station after it receives and investigates a complaint.Power 98's programming consultant and DJ Shareen Wong, who hosts the Getaways segments every Wednesday, said that it has been a long time since the radio station received a song-related complaint, but did not elaborate further.When asked for examples of songs that would receive one, she cited Katy Perry's self-explanatory song, I Kissed A Girl."For songs where the lyrics are blatantly obvious, those, would be the kind of songs that could be sensitive," said the 37-year-old, who said that that song was later taken off-air completely.Suggestive or expletive-laden songs are not new.Did you really think Spice Girls' hit 2 Become 1 was all about numbers?But the trend probably has changed, according to Wong.She said: "Most listeners enjoy the songs for what they are - meaning they like the melody or the catchy hook. You may be surprised, but people don't always pay close attention to the lyrics.""Censoring out expletives is a given, but when it comes to the topic, it's a never-ending battle."Besides, children are pretty much clued in these days. Even if they don't hear it on radio, there are other avenues, such as digital music service Spotify," said 35-year-old Caleb Lye, who works in a professional services firm.Housewife Lily Soh, 45, said, "Kids pick up very fast these days. Even though they don't understand that what they're singing along to is wrong, it's still dangerous. It needs to be stricter."View screenshots of their music video in the gallery below.

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