The word bitch in popular music

I am not a fan of the word bitch. But it is everywhere in American society today. It used to be a “bad word” used by men to put down women, but in the past decade or so, women decided it was a term of endearment for their female friends, and you had celebs like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears happily asking “What up bitches?” or declaring “I’m Britney, bitch!” These catchphrases became popular with young women all over America, and even some young men.  While the word is still used to put down women, it doesn’t seem to have the impact it once did—women seem to have become immune to it.

In popular music, the word bitch is a staple of any credible rapper’s songs.

The list is pretty much endless when it comes to rappers who’ve used the word, usually multiple times, in a song—rappers like Jay-Z, Lupe Fiasco, Juvenile, Nas, Black Rob, Mobb Deep, Lil Wayne, Method Man, etc. The thing is, your average American doesn’t listen to rappers; they listen to some country music, some adult contemporary music, and some rock music, so when the word “bitch” pops up in pop-rock, it’s more of a surprise.

bitchToday on Buffalo’s “Rock Radio The Edge” I heard a rock band named Theory of a Deadman do a live performance of their song “Bitch Came Back.” It was co-written by none other than American Idol’s Kara DioGuardi, and contains the “F” word, along with the term “bust my balls.” The video features a girl finding ways to kill the four members of the band, from snakebite to electrocution. Our culture loves this song and video. Theory of a Deadman’s recent album went to #1 on the U.S. Rock charts and to #8 on the overall album sales chart. Any non-religious blue collar guy with girl problems would probably have this song on his iPod, raising a beer and singing along because the song expresses exactly what he thinks and feels about a past relationship.

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The other two popular bitch songs I could think of instantly include Meredith Brooks’ 1990s hit, “Bitch,” where she happily declares she’s a bitch, along with a mother, sinner, saint, etc. (female empowerment coupled with helping make the word just another word), along with Elton John’s 1970s hit, “The Bitch Is Back,” which doesn’t seem to make anyone uncomfortable anymore, since the word has become no big deal in 2012. When “The Bitch Is Back” was released in 1974, some radio stations refused to play it because it had “that word” in it. My oh my… how times have changed!

What do you think of the word bitch in music? Does it shock or offend you? My guess is the majority of people would say no. Interesting.

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