MusicApril 7, 2011 at 3:23 am

Musical Notes: Fuck Censorship

It can be heard blasting at frat parties, blaring at bars and pumping from dorm room windows. By now, you’d have to be living under a soundproof rock to not be able to complete this ubiquitous line: “I see you drivin’ round town with the girl I love, and I’m like…Forget You!”
Sound a little different than how you remembered it? After a summer of basking in the bright lights of viral video fame, Cee–Lo Green’s infectiously popular single “Fuck You!” became a little less recognizable to America’s listeners once it cracked the Top 40.
Upon clearing that final hurdle, the sassy single was sanitized by the powers that be; the empowered “Fuck You!” that we’d grown to love had devolved into a passive, wimpy “Forget You.” When I first turned on the radio and heard it I was pissed, along with everyone else. Had swag been sacrificed for sales?
The story of “Fuck You!” represents yet another chapter in the long history of musical censorship, which continues to be a consistent barometer for American social sensibilities. In 1967, when The Rolling Stones were set to play “Let’s Spend the Night Together” on the Ed Sullivan Show, Sullivan famously demanded that Mick Jagger change the lyrics to “Let’s Spend Some Time Together.”
Clearly, America seems to have loosened her famously stringent cultural mores a bit since then. If history is any indication, 50 years from now, we might be having an entirely different debate — maybe cursing will be commonplace and we’ll be debating whether hard–core porn is acceptable in a mainstream music video. For now though, we can rest assured knowing that no power can take away our right to smirk, scoff or just roll our eyes when “Forget You” plays — or from singing that original lyric instead.

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