The loudmouthed, large lunged songstress Adele made headlines for all sorts of reasons last year, with her comeback album 25. And of course, the lead single Hello with its accompanying video. But while Adele was smashing records, and record sales, and we were all having a good laugh as she hung up on poor old Lionel Richie, college students in Oklahoma, US, looked on with concern.
The University of Oklahoma’s Gender + Equality Centre have flagged a Hello lyric as potentially normalising stalking behaviour. Utilising the line “I must have called a thousand times” as part of a poster campaign, Gender + Equality Centre director Kathy Moxley commented that, “The music examples were used to demonstrate how aspects of popular media could be interpreted to normalize unhealthy relationship behaviors”.
The posters were produced by a student group to promote “Stalking Awareness Month”, featuring lyrics from artists including Adele and Maroon 5. The sentiment of the words taken from Maroon 5’s Animals is admittedly somewhat more aggressive; “Baby I’m preying on you tonight, hunt you down, eat you alive”. But, realistically, I think we can make allowances for poetic license at play given the title.
Moxley was quick to clarify that the posters were not intended as criticisms of artists, nor of their songs, but as examples of how music can desensitise audiences to certain issues. However, I can’t help but feel that these students fall a little short in their research. The Police’s Every Breath You Take is universally recognised as a great love song, despite having intensely creepy, and most definitely stalker promoting, lyrics. And not forgetting Andy, You’re A Star by The Killers – by those standards, Adele’s phone number isn’t even worth blocking.
Admittedly, I’m making light of this – personally I feel that maybe whoever it was old Adele was trying to call, should maybe have had the decency to pick up. And I would be more inclined to haul in Adam Levine on assault charges given his cited intentions. But seriously, the concerns that music can influence, and normalise unacceptable behaviours, are really quite real and reach back over decades. But to pin up such mild examples, when songs like Blurred Lines are topping charts? Clubs have been heaving to Sexy Bitch? And Rick Ross’s idea of a love story is “Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it/ I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it”? Now that isn’t funny.
Image via Stage Door