If you are a dedicated fan of Olly Murs and don’t like to read a negative word about him then you may want to look away now. If you have an open mind, read on.
First, let me just state for the record that I am a fan of Mr Murs myself and am thoroughly enjoying his new album Never Been Better but there is one track on the new album that pricked my ears up when I heard the lyrics. The track in question is Can’t Say No (suspicious already, no?) and features various lyrics that could be easily misconstrued and deemed offensive by certain people. The song starts off quite up-beat and bouncy but the subject of the song swiftly becomes sexual with fairly provocative lyrics, especially when you take into consideration the average age of his fan base. The main lyrics that caught my attention were “I can’t wait to get you home, so many ways to turn you on. Just let your fears come off like clothes, I know you feel what I’m feeling. So no, you can’t say no. Give it to me now.” Those are the lyrics in the chorus, therefore they are repeated the most which is increasingly dangerous as lyrics in a chorus are the part that people tend to sing the most (as it tends to be the catchiest part of the song). Of course, these lyrics could be simply seen as complimentary to a woman and could just be perceived as meaning he can’t resist her, however, do these lyrics not seem a tad demanding and almost pushy?
Olly may not be solely to blame for the lyrics as, according to his Wikipedia page (yes, I know, not the most accurate of sources but still quite helpful), the track was co-written by Steve Robson (Take That, One Direction, 5 Seconds of Summer) and Claude Kelly (One Direction, Jessie J, Britney Spears). So he may only be due one third of the blame for the writing of the lyrics, but that is still a large portions that he is responsible for.
When I first heard this song, my first thought was of the popular but controversial 2013 hit Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke, featuring Pharrell Williams. That track was banned from various universities and received its fair share of negative press due to its lyrics appearing to trivialise rape. Some media outlets went as far as referring to the track as a “rape song“. This was mainly because of the lyrics “I know you want it, you’re a good girl. I hate these blurred lines. The way you grab me, must wanna get nasty.” Those lyrics and the equally controversial music video mixed together caused the track to be widely known as the most controversial song of all time. If you want an idea of the publicity it received, just google the song and you’ll be presented with more articles about it than you will ever have the time to read.
Anyway, back to my question. Why is Murs’s song not being picked up as being the slightest bit offensive? Is it simply because he’s viewed as “that cheeky chappy from Essex and the X Factor”? Maybe because it’s not a single, so it’s not as publicised as other tracks on the album? Because he’s more established, whereas Thicke was relatively new to everyone’s radar? Or, I hate to say it, because we’ve all become so desensitised to this subject in popular, mainstream tracks and society in general? It could well be a mix of all those answers and if so, will anything even be done about it? I think this is an area that the music industry really needs to look at, especially with increasingly more youngsters listening to pop music and becoming more exposed to sexual topics through easily-accessible media devices and explicit music videos being shown in the daytime. However, I feel I may be digressing into the age-old argument about censorship in the music industry (on which you can already find hundreds of different articles and points of view) so this is probably an appropriate time to end this blog post.
For more blog posts from Rob Caple visit his blog here: http://robcaple.wordpress.com/category/music-industry-2/