Susan’s Music Talk: Oh, Adam


I don’t usually wade into controversy. While I’m usually not scared to do it in real life, I really hate being flamed here on my blog, too. This is my safe haven.
But… sometimes, I gotta open my mouth. This is one of those times. It’s about that charmer, Adam Lambert.

There are some things I need to say up front:
* I did four years of college radio, running my own radio show. Had a staff, too; it became quite the operation. I worked with the record reps in New York City and LA (and various other places. Manalapan, New Jersey, anyone?).

* I came a job interview away from making a career with a record company. And that’s only the start of the many music-related things I’ve done.

*Add retail sales and concert promotion into the list, as well as stage crew. Don’t forget the FCC Radio Operator’s license in my wallet, although I couldn’t exactly have done college radio without it.

So I’m no stranger to the excesses of the music industry. Most of them just make me shrug. Some of them (like the original hoopla over the cover of Metallica‘s Load album) make me laugh.

Adam Lambert’s AMA performance is another story.

Stop and consider the lyrics (any typos and misspellings aren’t my fault and yes, I wanted to fix them):

So hot
Out the box
Can we pick up the pace?
Turn it up,
Heat it up
I need to be entertained
Push the limit
Are you with it?
Baby, don’t be afraid
I’ma hurt ‘ya real good, baby

Hello, Bondage! Hello Domination! Hello Sado-Masochism!!!
Like THAT doesn’t violate an FCC law or two? Or more?

But wait. You lucky devils, there’s more.

Let’s go
It’s my show
Baby, do what I say
Don’t trip off the glitz
That I’m gonna display
I told ya
I’ma hold ya down until you’re amazed
Give it to ya ’til your screaming my name
No escaping when I start
Once I’m in I own your heart
There’s no way you’ll ring the alarm
So hold on until it’s over
Oh, do you know what you got into?
Can you handle what I’m ’bout to do?
‘Cause it’s about to get rough for you
I’m here for your entertainment

And more!

It’s alright
You’ll be fine
Baby, I’m in control
Take the pain
Take the pleasure
I’m the master of both
Close your eyes
Not your mind
Let me into your soul
I’ma work ya ’til your totally blown
No escaping when I start
Once I’m in I own your heart
There’s no way ‘ta ring the alarm
So hold on until it’s over

Had enough? I sure have — and I have no qualms about reading BDSM romances, either. I have a number of friends who write them, in fact. Hell, I’ve even BEEN to BDSM clubs in my time. It’s not something I want to take part in, myself, but at least I’m making an informed decision about what I am or am not denying myself.

The now infamous TV performance aside, we’ve got this song that’s all about this sexual game/lifestyle/deviance — call it what you will. It’s still coming into my house, without my permission, via the airwaves (or cable wire, such as it is). As a parent, I’m glad I wasn’t watching with my kids (in fact, I wasn’t watching at all. That’s how distant from popular music I’ve grown).

I have no problems saying to my kids, “Well, Adam kissed another man, yes. Some men like to kiss other men. Some women like to kiss other women. Me, I like to kiss your dad. It takes all kinds to rock the world.”

I DO, however, have problems explaning why that person is pretending to kiss (to couch it in the innocence of my kids) another person’s private area. With explaining the dominance on display when Adam yanked on his keyboard player’s hair in order to deliver that kiss. With explaining the man in the white cargo pants with the funky black straps on them and what those straps were a symbol of.

I worry about not only my kids, who are really too young to understand all this (and who I hope won’t see it until they’re old enough to get all the nuances), but about the kids who are older. The kids who get it — or who *think* they do.

BDSM isn’t a black-and-white area. The idea of pain as sexual pleasure is complex. It’s intricate. It’s a dance, and if it’s not done carefully, people get hurt. Emotionally. Mentally. Physically.

Some of those wounds will last forever. They’ll open back up when it’s least expected. They may color the way a person lives out the rest of his or her life.

Yes, this is dangerous stuff. The Tour Manager said to me that kids don’t listen to the lyrics to a song. But I disagree. I’m someone who physically clung to her stereo at times as an adolescent and young adult, wishing I could crawl inside that song and let the music soothe the pain away.

I have no doubt that there are kids who’ll hear this song and totally not get it. I’m not so worried about them. Or about the kids who get it and say, “Nah. No thanks” to trying the BDSM thing — at least until they’re older and better prepared.

Nope, it’s those other kids. The ones who are searching for a thrill. The suggestible ones. The followers. The young men who are confused about who they are, who’ll manage to get over their heads. The kids who’ll treat something as powerful as BDSM as a game.

It’s not.

During my radio years, I watched the groupies crawl across the floor, trying to seduce a jaded rocker. I’ve been around. I was at least smart enough to watch rather than experience … in most cases.

Now, as an adult who knows better, I see the danger. Not in one televised performance, but in the fact that TPTB at the record company and at ABC TV are allowing such blatantly dangerous sexuality into our lives. This isn’t a game, folks. BDSM hurts people. Literally and figuratively.



  1. Natasha Fondren

    November 29, 2009 5:17 pm

    I mostly agree. It’s why I’ve never felt the need to “come out,” to reveal my pseudonym, to do any marketing whatsoever. People who read my stuff search for it, and I love them, and that’s enough for me.

    Marketing? I fear my words falling in the wrong hands. My website has a disclaimer on every page. These lyrics make no mention of consensual sexuality, and while I have my fair share of readers in their twenties, it’s very, very important to me that people understand the emotional background. That’s why I’m not all that crazy about a lot of BDSM romances written by authors who haven’t experienced a thing.

    I wouldn’t have a problem with my kids hearing a song about BDSM, but this song does not describe BDSM to me: it describes unconsensual sex with a guy who’s full of himself and thinks that just because he gives it to her, she’ll like it. That’s rape, not BDSM.
    .-= Natasha Fondren´s last blog ..A Different Point of View =-.

  2. Ri, The Music Savvy Mom

    November 29, 2009 7:46 pm

    Agree completely.

    And y’know, as a side note…I went shopping and to lunch with my “best girlfriend, Robert” yesterday, and this subject came up. His take?

    He was mortified. Called it a career-ender. And, not because he’s a prude – far from it; he rocked it in NYC during the Studio 54 heyday…he knows stuff. But, he was frustrated that an openly gay artist chose to emphasize sexuality rather than his talent. His words:

    “Why would you give more fodder to the close minded view that we’re ALL like that – sexual deviants? Why do you need a full blown Broadway production to back your first song? You’re not David Bowie YET. Just stand there and sing. That’s what Kris Allen did – and by the way – HE WON.”

    (Just sayin’…)

  3. susan

    November 29, 2009 7:48 pm

    I’m so damn lucky to have the two of you in my life. You’re making me think deeper about this, and it’s a neat thing. Expect it to show up in some fiction down the road.

    Thanks. And keep it up! My brain needs this workout!
    .-= susan´s last blog ..Susan’s Music Talk: Oh, Adam =-.

  4. Ann

    November 29, 2009 10:14 pm

    I’m glad I didn’t bother watching the AMAs, for so many reasons (and several for just this performance). It sounds to me like he doesn’t care at all about her entertainment, just his own. As he said in the first part, I need to be entertained.
    .-= Ann´s last blog ..Weather Update and Pictures =-.

  5. Patricia Stoltey

    November 30, 2009 1:18 am

    I missed the performance but have read about it. Lambert is way too talented to pull this kind of disappointing stunt for an audience who might not appreciate his antics (or lyrics). I loved him on American Idol, but not so much since.
    .-= Patricia Stoltey´s last blog ..Selling Books at the Holiday Market =-.

  6. CalicoCrazy

    November 30, 2009 1:54 pm

    I really wondered during American Idol if he had the self control to really succeed or if his desire to be shocking would overwhelm his music. Guess the AMA performance was the answer, too bad he’s really talented. He is definitely on the forbidden list of performers in our house, as there would just be way too many questions from my little one.
    .-= CalicoCrazy´s last blog ..Monochrome Monday #16 =-.

  7. Alice Audrey

    November 30, 2009 8:15 pm

    I don’t really want to go back to the “innocence” of the 50’s, but sometimes I wish we had better control of what does and what doesn’t come into our homes. I also didn’t watch the awards, but don’t think that was the right place for the song or any of the junk that went with it.
    .-= Alice Audrey´s last blog ..I Won NaNoWriMo! =-.

  8. carol

    December 1, 2009 11:54 am

    Sounds like I’m glad I missed this performance, and especially that my daughter did. It’s hard enough to explain things like sexuality, religion, you name it, on a daily basis.

  9. Joanne Olivieri

    December 1, 2009 1:27 pm

    Well, as a published author and poet, what really bothers me is the fact that this crappy writing is masquerading as lyrics. I watched the AMA’s as I do each year and normally during these performances it’s difficult to hear the lyrics so I am glad you posted them even though they sicken me not only for the content but writing. Whoever wrote these lyrics is making a huge amount of $$$ for writing garbage. It’s very disheartening when there are so many writers out there who want to send inspirational and uplifting messages and KNOW how to write yet these idiots who cannot even spell are the ones getting kudos. Very sad. Good post though, it allowed me some time to rant 🙂
    .-= Joanne Olivieri´s last blog ..Tuxedo Island at The San Francisco Zoo =-.

  10. Jannie Funster

    December 2, 2009 8:45 pm

    Wow, I’m disturbed now reading this. But glad you wrote this, it needs to be told. I’m with you all the way on this one.

    Don’t wanna have anything to do with this guy. Yuck. Glad I missed the “performance” too.
    .-= Jannie Funster´s last blog ..Getting To Know Him… Getting To Know All About A Wonderful Blogger. =-.

  11. Dee

    December 2, 2009 9:13 pm

    I hate that everything I start to write about this makes me sound like some kind of uptight prude.

    I agree with most of what has already been said. It did seem like rape – choreographed and celebrated and wrong no matter what your sexual leanings might be. I wish he HAD just stood there and sung.
    .-= Dee´s last blog ..Nanowrimo and More =-.

  12. Bluebethley

    December 3, 2009 1:01 pm

    I missed the show but your analysis is well supported by quotes from Lambert’s performance. Pretty shocking stuff, and I agree wholeheartedly about the vulnerability of adolescents. Thanks for speaking up so eloquently. This deserves a wider audience. Did you send this to ABC?
    .-= Bluebethley´s last blog ..#191 Game . . . =-.

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