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Songs that don’t age well 😬

This post loosely accompanies Gab & Jam 301. Songs that don’t age well 😬

Here are a list of favorite songs that for WHATEVER reason have NOT aged well.

This list was enhanced by the article,

Check out the episode for the full discussion.

What do we mean when we say a song “hasn’t aged well”?

We mean songs that fit one of the three criteria, which includes:

1. Makes us cringe when we really stop and think about the implications of the type of “inappropriate” relationship they are referring to, or

2. Is a topic that is not handled with today’s sensibilities (in its handling of race, sexuality, disability, body positivity, etc.)

3. Doesn’t seem appropriate for where our headspace is now (meaning we’re at a different stage in life, i.e. Taylor Swift writing songs about a boy when she is 12 years old, but she doesn’t feel that way anymore)

Here's our newest "Clouds" Obtanium Flow t-shirt design:


So here’s our list of “songs that don’t age well”:

A. Cringey age issues:

There were SO many songs that referenced a good and grown man lusting over a teenager, but here is just a small sampling of the songs that found their way onto the pop charts—and reflected the attitude of that time. (Click the title to hear a sample of each song.)

1. “(She’s) Sexy and 17” by Stray Cats (1983)

This nouveau-retro band brought rockabilly to the 80s and this was one of their most successful songs.

2. “Seventeen” by Winger (1990)

This gem includes the line, "She's only seventeen / Daddy says she's too young, but she's old enough for me.”

3. “Christine Sixteen” by Kiss (1977)

The band’s lead singer, Gene Simmons, is giving off stalker vibes with the lyrics "I don't usually say things like this to girls your age / But when I saw you coming out of the school that day / That day I knew, I knew (Christine sixteen) / I've got to have you, I've got to have you."

4. “I Saw Her Standing There” by The Beatles (1963)

Though this band is associated with good, clean fun, one of their innocuous hits begins with the line “Well, she was just seventeen.”

5. “You’re 16” by Ringo Star (1973)

Forty year old, former Beatle, Ringo Star sang to a sixteen year old, as if THAT is a viable and laudable relationship option.

6. “Father Figure” by George Michael (1987)

This song has ALWAYS troubled us, but the folks in the 80s thought this was a pretty wonderful song. These are some of the lyrics that are concerning: “To be bold and naked / At your side” and “I will be your father figure (Oh baby) / Put your tiny hand in mine (I'd love to) / I will be your preacher teacher (Be your daddy).” For the record, one can’t be at once a father, lover, teacher, and have one put their “tiny hand in mine” without there being something worth calling the cops about, in our opinion.

Artists who are genres unto themselves:

B. Not my “headspace” anymore:

This category is for those set of lyrics that may have been written when artists are young, naïve, at a different political, or religious political position than when they are later in their artistic journey.

1. “First Time” by Bruce Henderson (1985)

When Bruce wrote this song, he was right out of high school and was being heavily influenced by Prince. This meant that it was sexy. He often mentions that if he had “made it” at that time and if THAT song had been his “hit,” he would STILL need to perform it four decades later—and THAT would unacceptable and cringey.

2. “DMSR” Prince (1999)

The title—and chorus—of the song is “Dance Music Sex Romance.” As Prince matured in his faith, he no longer wanted to sing those lyrics—along with MANY others of his songs and lyrics—because he did not feel the same way anymore and did not feel it was appropriate to pretend as if this is who he is and what he represents.


So, will we do it again? HELL, YEAH! 🙌🏾 In fact, our NEXT livestream is scheduled for Friday, August 25, where we will debut for Bourgeoisie Paper Jam’s next single “Lovely Mystic (Obtanium Flow)” We will also premiere the music video live and on-air—unless you are a member of our Patreon community. (If you’re in our Patreon, you will see the video one week earlier. Join here.)

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C. Not today’s sensibilities:

This is the category that reflect changes in how our current culture feels about social issues, etc.

1. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” popularized by Ricardo Montalban and Esther Williams (1944)

Needless to say, there are implications of a spiked drink on the part of the male duet singer. Obviously, this is not kosher with today’s awareness of date-rape possibilities. And what made it WORSE is that Bill Cosby and his tv family sang it on his popular family show. Given that Bill Cosby ended up being charged with sexual assault for putting date rape drugs into women’s drinks, this song seemed like him flaunting an “open secret.”

2. “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves” by Cher (1971)

It’s easy to see that, culturally, we no longer refer to the Ramani people as “gypsies,” so this song would be considered politically incorrect.

3. “Brown Sugar” by Rolling Stones (1971)

According to the Rolling Stones’ lead singer, Mick Jagger, he didn’t think much about the topic being about rape and slavery and that the song was written in 15 minutes. Sample lyrics include: "Gold Coast slave ship bound for cotton fields / Sold in the market down in New Orleans / Scarred old slaver knows he's doin' all right / Hear him whip the women just around midnight."

4. “Appetite for Destruction” album by Guns N’ Roses (1988)

This album—among others of Guns ‘N Roses—had homophobic, racist, and anti-immigrant language. In fact, the 2018 re-issue has removed all those references.

5. “Summer Nights” from Grease (1978)

This classic song lyrics from the musical Grease includes the line “Did she put up a fight?” which, of course, suggests a prelude to date rape and is NOT appropriate at all. However, surprisingly, the line actually remained even in 2016 version.

6. "Woman Is The N----- Of The World" by John Lennon and Yoko Ono (1972)

While the song was meant to call attention to women’s plight, it uses a derogatory word right in its title, which is not cool.

7. “Island Girl” by Elton John (1975)

This was a number one hit in 1975, but Elton John hasn’t played it live in 30 years, because it has degrading black men and women, including the line "Black as coal, but she burn like a fire."

8. “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglass (1974)

While it seems like a happy-go-lucky song, but it includes Asian stereotypes.

9. “China Girl” by David Bowie (1983)

This song includes Asian sexual stereotypes, which, as a culture, we have found are not acceptable.

10. “Ur So Gay” by Katie Perry (2008)

Needless to say, this Katie Perry is anti-gay by accusing a guy of being gay, because he does not like her.

11. “Hurricane” by Bob Dylan (1975)

This song was meant to call attention to Rubin "Hurricane" Carter’ imprisonment, but uses the n-word in its lyrics.

This is JUST the start! We are SO sure that there are a TON of songs that should be on this list. Songs that could not be CONCEIVED of being written and/or cannot be performed anymore without holding oneself out to criticism.

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What about you?

What song did you realize is cringey, but used to be popular?

Leave it in the comments below.



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