Skip to main content

Top 40 Remix Decoded: Women Should Be Seen and Not Heard

pop, song meanings

Art Credit: via

Songs that treat women as sex objects have been around for some time, but America's Top 40 now features a new breed of scummy misogyny. I call it the "women shut up" genre. At the top is Jason Derulo's hit "Talk Dirty to Me," followed by Naughty Boy with his breakout song "La La La."

"Talk Dirty to Me" by Jason Derulo (feat. 2 Chainz)

On first listen Jason Derulo's song might make you think he enjoys when women talk dirty to him. But upon closer listen you'll realize he's actually saying he enjoys when women keep their mouths shut.

Been around the world, don't speak the language / But your booty don't need explaining / All I really need to understand is / When you talk dirty to me … You know the words to my songs / No habla inglés / Our conversations ain't long...

If there's any remaining doubt at the end of the song as to whether or not he cares what women have to say, Derulo throws in a mocking soundbite of a woman with a foreign accent saying, "What? I don't understand!"

The song has made the top of the Billboard list, but have we listened to the lyrics? Any celebrity going on record saying that women should be seen and not heard would probably be blacklisted. But put it to a funky beat and we're bopping along.

"La La La" by Naughty Boy (feat. Sam Smith)

Then there's that song by an artist relatively new to most of us, Naughty Boy. This song bears the other ugly flavor of misogyny—the kind that shuts up women who are assertive by simply labeling them a b****.

The vocals are faint, so it can be hard to hear what he's saying at first blush. It even sounds like he's singing a "la la la" ditty to himself, but let's take a closer look.

When you spit your venom, keep it shut / I hate it when you hiss and preach  /... I'm covering my ears like a kid / When your words mean nothing, I go la la la / I'm turning up the volume when you speak / ... I find a way to block it, I go la la, la la la la la na na na na na /...  If our love is running out of time / ... I'm gonna drown you out before I lose my mind.

"Like a kid" is right. Sounds like Naughty Boy has a hard time accepting when a woman had the legitimate authority to tell him what to do . . . say, his mom telling him to clean his room. And he never grew up.

Is it sometimes a natural urge for us to want to tune others out? Sure. Breakup classics like "Don't Speak" by No Doubt, or lesser-known jewels like "There's No Home for You Here" by The White Stripes come to mind. But the misogynistic elements in these Top 40 songs is an unsettling development. I'd rather change the dial.