Dole took some hard shots at entertainment industry, but his aim was a little off Facing the MUSIC

June 09, 1995|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

When Senator Bob Dole attacked the entertainment industry in a fund-raising speech last week, he pulled no punches. Popular music, movies and television were responsible for "mainstreaming deviancy" in our society, he said; they are "bombarding our children with destructive messages of casual violence and even more casual sex."

Music was particularly criticized by the presidential candidate. "A line has been crossed -- not just of taste, but of human dignity and decency," he thundered. "It is crossed every time sexual violence is given a catchy tune. When teen suicide is set to an appealing beat." The worst pop groups, he fumed, "revel in mindless violence and loveless sex."

L Dole didn't just rely on righteous rhetoric. He named names.

Trouble is, those names weren't terribly current.

For instance, none of the rap acts he mentioned -- Ice-T, the Geto Boys and 2 Live Crew -- have recorded in the last two years. In fact, Ice-T, whom Dole saw as emblematic of a lack of conscience at Time Warner, was dropped by the conglomerate's music division in 1992, a year after it pulled "Cop Killer" off the shelves. 2 Live Crew has been inactive since releasing a greatest hits album in 1992, while the last Geto Boys release hit the streets in '93.

All of this led many in the music industry to argue that the presidential hopeful was running a campaign based on issues leftover from the last election. Warner Music Group chairman Michael Fuchs was quoted as dismissing Dole's speech as purely political, and "not directed toward getting results."

Is Dole's argument really as out-of-date as his examples? To find out, we decided to take a look at what Billboard magazine listed as the Top 15 singles for the week Dole gave his speech. Determined by both radio play and consumer sales, the Billboard chart is as accurate a measure of what America is listening to as can be found.

Our survey examined each single (and, in many cases, the accompanying music video) for traces of sex, violence and depravity. Each was then rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being as wholesome as "You Light Up My Life," and 10 being as bad as Bob Dole's worst nightmares.

How did they fare? Should we be afraid? See for yourself:

No. 1: "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman," Bryan Adams (A&M)

What's it about? Written for the film "Don Juan de Marco," the flamenco-tinged "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman" is a celebration of romance that flies in the face of the music Dole says champions "loveless sex." It's accompanied by a video that plays off Don Juan imagery while presenting Adams as a man looking for something more enduring than the pleasures of the flesh.

Sexual content: "To really love a woman, hold her 'til you know how she needs to be touched" is about as racy as it gets.

Violence involved: None

Depravity quotient: Nothing, unless you think there's something kinky about the masks people wear in the video.

Overall rating: 2

A Time Warner release? No

No. 2: "This Is How We Do It," Montell Jordan (PMP/RAL)

What's it about? A celebration of style, "This Is How We Do It" talks about the way young people in South Central Los Angeles party on a typical Friday night. Despite its talk of "O.G. macks" and 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor, Jordan paints a surprisingly wholesome picture of a night in the 'hood where "all the gangbangers forgot about the drive-by" and even the party crowd has its share of designated drivers.

Sexual content: A passing allusion to "honeys in the street" out to make money.

Violence involved: None

Depravity quotient: None

Overall rating: 4

A Time Warner release? No

No. 3: "I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By," Method Man featuring Mary J. Blige (Def Jam)

What's it about? A declaration of love, although in somewhat unconventional terms. As Mary J. Blige sings the refrain from the old Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell hit "You're All I Need to Get By," Method Man offers his version of love talk, telling his woman he'll always be there for her and thanking her for bearing his babies and not asking for a ring or a wedding. Not exactly traditional family values, but a far cry from sexual objectification.

Sexual content: Never gets more explicit than lines like "I've got a love jones/For your body and your skin tone."

Violence involved: None

Depravity quotient: Limited to having children out of wedlock and a few marijuana references

Overall rating: 6

A Time Warner release? No

No. 4: "Total Eclipse of the Heart," Nicki French (Critique)

What's it about? A cover of the 1983 Bonnie Tyler hit, it's an overblown tale of lost love that finds the protagonist pining extravagantly for her departed lover.

Sexual content: Includes the line "I need you now tonight," but never specifies for what

Violence involved: None

Depravity quotient: Well, they did remake it as a disco number. . .

Overall rating: 3

A Time Warner release? No

No. 5: "Water Runs Dry," Boyz II Men (Motown)

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