WARNING: LT80s tries to keep the site and our articles
clean and quasi family-friendly whenever possible. However, the subject
matter of this piece makes that impossible. Understand that this article
contains content that is sexually explicit at times. If that is not
something you want to read, hit the back button.
is easy to think back on the 80s as a more innocent time – a time when
middle school didn’t include sexting, girls weren’t supposed to call
boys, and AIDS was scary enough to keep you in line (for a while). And
while that innocence may be true in some ways, 80s music provided plenty
of material to corrupt our not-always-so-wholesome minds. I know in my
house, there were
certain songs that my mother just wouldn’t tolerate. To my mom’s
thinking, they weren’t “nice” and certainly weren’t “appropriate” for a
13 year old girl. But, man, that’s what made them so much fun. You’ll
notice that most of these songs are clumped into a 3-5 year period in the
early to mid 80s. The reason is simple: those were the years when I was
old enough to be into music, but still young enough that Mom felt she
had a say in the content.
is our run down of the top 10 songs that made 80s moms cringe. We won’t
tell your mom, if you won’t tell ours.
Sugar Walls by Sheena Easton (1984). Written by Prince,
this song made it into the list of the “Filthy Fifteen” developed by the
PMRC (Parent Music Resource Center), a committee formed by Tipper Gore
and others in 1985 to try to help parents control kids’ access to music
they decided was inappropriate. I guess they didn’t want their little
girls singing lyrics like, “blood races to my private spots.” At least
we know what she was up to after her baby took the morning train!
Nasty Girl by Vanity 6 (1982). This song was strictly
forbidden within ear shot of my mother. It was “filthy” and she didn’t
need Tipper Gore to help her figure that out. Happily, my best friend
was able to procure a copy of the entire album from her older sister,
which we proceeded to listen to until we had the whole thing memorized.
There’s just no denying that the beat in the opening bars is catchy. The
mention of “7 inches or more,” I think, may have been the deal breaker
for my mom. Just guessing.
(I’m a . . .) by Berlin (1982). The first word of the song is
“sex” and that just about sums it up. The offending lyrics in this one
stretch from start to finish, and let’s face it, no one’s mom wants them
singing about being a bitch, a bi, a geisha, a slut, a slave, or a one
night stand. And, you can’t help singing it—it’s too great a song not
Like a Virgin by Madonna
(1984). Probably the beginning of innumerable uncomfortable
conversations between parents and younger children throughout the 1980s.
Sample: “Mommy, what’s a virgin?” “As long as you stay one, darling, you
never have to learn the words to ‘Papa Don’t Preach.’”
Darling Nikki, Prince (1984). Prince was clearly
responsible for much of the off-limits music in the 80s. He is the
composer of 3 out of our 10 songs. Also on the “Filthy Fifteen,” and
perhaps the song that initiated Gore’s campaign for advisory labels,
Darling Nikki was steamy, explicit, and mentioned masturbation, which
was weird, because that was something girls apparently never did until
the mid-1990s when Seinfeld and the DiVinyls made it okay. By
the way, when Nikki was in that hotel lobby masturbating with a
magazine, was she looking at it; or was she masturbating with a
magazine? Seems like a good way to get some nasty papercuts.
by Olivia Newton-John (1981). No question about it, this was a
side of ONJ that we hadn’t seen before when this hit the air waves in
1981. She was the sweet and innocent Sandy from Grease and sang
all those wholesome 70s love songs like “I Honestly Love You.” And now,
here she was inviting the listener to get physical in no uncertain
terms. The song was wildly popular despite being censored and banned on
some radio stations. It spent ten weeks at #1 in the US. While, the
video tried to re-direct the meaning of the song by having it play out
in a gym, I’m pretty sure that didn’t fool anyone.
Never Say Never by Romeo Void (1982). Anthem for toxic
relationships everywhere. “I might like you better if we slept
together.” Yeah, maybe. For, like 10 minutes; then I want you the hell
out of my apartment. And don’t you dare try to steal any of my T-shirts.
Touch Me by Samantha Fox (1986). It was hard to choose
between this and Naughty Girls Need Love Too. Ms. Fox’s 80s
oeuvre offered much to make moms cringe. But, Touch Me is a
little more direct in its purpose. “Like a tramp in the night, I’m
begging for you to treat my body like you wanted to . . . , Touch Me,
Touch Me, I want to feel your body.” Also, it is hard to deny the appeal
of the simulated orgasmic grunts that she adds in for a little extra
emphasis. You know, just in case you otherwise missed the point.
She Bop by Cyndi Lauper (1984).
This song is a little more subtle in its approach. So subtle, in fact,
that I didn’t know it was about masturbation until about 4 years ago.
For some reason, I thought it was about dancing. Instead, it
out to be about dancing with yourself (see, e.g., Idol, Billy). But,
apparently I was the only one that didn’t get it because it also has the
dubious honor of having been featured in the Filthy Fifteen. And, in
polling readers of Like Totally 80s, there were plenty of parents out
there that put this on the NO list. Those parents were fighting a losing
battle, though, as the song hit #3 on the US charts.
You Shook Me All Night
Long by ACDC (1980). From their most successful album,
Back in Black, this song is a classic. Angus Young is quoted as
saying that they strived to make the video as “politically incorrect as
possible.” Certainly, the mechanical bull riding doesn’t leave much to
the imagination. And with lyrics that include, “Taking more than her
share, had me fighting for air, she told me to come but I was already
there,” we can certainly understand the parental hesitancy on this one.
Did we miss your favorite? Let us know which
songs made your Mom fear for an entire generation.
I Want Your Sex by George Michael (1987).
C-c-c-c-c-c-come on! The video starts with a sexy black teddy and black
satin sheets and proceeds to just come right out and state its
intentions: I Want Your Sex. This song has all the hallmarks of a mom or
dad’s worst nightmare for their daughter. The lyrics emphasize the whole
struggle about giving it up, “you tell me you’re going regret it, I tell
you that I love you, but you still say no.” How many times did you hear
that speech from your dad, “they only want one thing; they’ll say
anything to get it.” When controversy erupted over the video, Michael
appended a kind of preface in which he assured viewers that the song
wasn’t about casual sex. It was about monogamy. Judging from the video,
it was also about light bondage and someone’s Asian fetish. And that
great dance he does when he sings, “What’s your definition of dirty
baby/What do you consider pornography?” The preface did nothing to
assuage parental fears.
Me So Horny by 2 Live Crew (1989). 24 years ago
(January of 1989), 2 Live Crew hit it big on the charts with "Me So
Horny" (#1 on the rap charts and #26 on the Billboard Hot 100) and
subsequently landed themselves in hot water with obscenity charges in
Florida. And, if you listen to the song, you'll understand why; it
leaves so little to the imagination. Unlike other songs that had veiled
references to sex (Think "Dress You Up" by Madonna. I always thought she
wanted to take him shopping for better clothes!), "Me So Horny" put it
right out there. In fact, the first line of the rap, "Sitting at home
with d**k on hard," makes it hard to veil what you're rapping about. The
whole song talks very openly about sex ("I know he'll be disgusted when
he sees your p***y busted"). Raps today pale in comparison when they
talk about sex. Even now, at the ripe young age of 40, I still fear my
mother's wrath if I put this song on.
Reader Contributed – By Gina M.