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Friday, June 14, 2024

Double entendres, sexual innuendos and clever marketing.

As children and tweens, those words were — to us — unintelligible, unpronounceable and definitely unimportant. However, we were consuming a healthy dose of all three every time we sang along to pop songs.

Sold to us and our wildly negligent parents as innocent music, the pop tunes we all knew and loved in the 1990s and early 2000s were subtly filthy enough to impregnate a child’s ear canal. Everybody pointed fingers at rap music, but the real culprits in the collective corruption of America’s youth were the likes of Britney and Justin, and not just because of their matching, all-denim outfits at the American Music Awards in 2001. 

Take a trip down memory lane, and revisit the filthy ditties we knew and loved during our more chaste years. 

“...Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears (1999)

It would be remiss to not mention Britney Spears right off the bat in a discussion of sexually charged pop anthems. She practically invented the “pseudogenre.” The Princess of Pop exploded into our collective subconscious with “...Baby One More Time.” In the video for the album’s title track, Spears writhed around on lockers and shimmied her virginal rack at a camera all while sporting a schoolgirl uniform fit for bedroom foreplay.  Oh, and this went down while Spears swore she was a virgin. 

Plus, the racy video foreshadowed what was to come for Spears: “Slave 4 U,” the  infamous Madonna kiss at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards and Kevin Federline. 

Hats off to Spears’ marketing team for pulling a fast one on all our parents. 

“Genie In A Bottle” by Christina Aguilera (1999)

“Hormones racing at the speed of light / But that don’t mean it’s gotta be tonight.” 

These words sound like they came from a grammatically incorrect pamphlet at Planned Parenthood. Alas, they are the lyrics to Aguilera’s “Genie In A Bottle” in which the then-barely legal singer pleaded, or demanded, to be “rubbed the right way” so she could make someone’s wishes come true. 

Hey Christina, can I make a wish? Go back in time and undo the video for “Dirrty.” I had to purchase Plan B for my eyes. 

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“Who Let The Dogs Out” by Baha Men (2000)

The Baha Men obviously thought they would get away with making offensive music by singing in what could be mistaken for a foreign language, but the jig is up. I won’t deny “Who Let The Dogs Out” is a catchy tune, but let’s just say it wouldn’t be Gloria Steinem’s favorite. 

The “dogs” in question are of the human variety if you catch my drift. There’s a lot of talk about “nuttin’” and “bones,” and they’re definitely not talking about PB&J and dog treats. 

In a perfect world, there would exist an episode of “The Office” where Michael Scott leads a sexual harassment workshop with “Who Let The Dogs Out” as PowerPoint background music. 

Fun fact: This song was featured in the “Rugrats in Paris” movie. Let that sink in.

[A version of this story ran on page 7 on 9/18/2014 under the headline "‘I’m not that innocent’: a look at 90s pop songs"]

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