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I’ve been writing a lot about date rape in popular culture lately, particularly in music. Most of my treatment has involved parsing the lyrics of popular songs with rape-scenario undertones: Asher Roth‘s soft indictment of college date rape; A Tribe Called Quest‘santi-date rape, menstruation-joke opus; Slick Rick‘s anal-themed rape song. But do the songs at least sound good? And does that make them worse?

Yesterday, commenter Jelita Jane made a good point about date-rape songs: some of them are terrible (Britney Spears‘ “Blur”), some of them are awesome (Rod Stewart‘s “Tonight’s the Night’—-don’t deny it)—-and the success of the song often has little to do with how positive or negative its message is. Jelita Jane writes:

[The Toadies] have a song called Tyler that fully outlines a stalker/rapist’s nighttime jaunt into his obsession’s home. I don’t remember all the lyrics but I clearly recall, “I stumble in the hallway, outside her bedroom door/ I hear her call out to me, I hear the fear in her voice/ she pulls her covers tighter, I press against her door/ I will be with her tonight” it’s the creepiest song but somehow it’s still pretty awesome too . . .

A Hierarchy of Date Rape Jams:

Sweet, Positive Jams: Ever since Tupac “died,” artists with the ability to craft sweet jams with positive messages have been few and far between. The best bet in crafting a song about rape that’s good (and good for you!) is to go heavy on the social satire: i.e. babies being fed malt liquor; period jokes. See: Amanda Palmer’s “Oasis”; A Tribe Called Quest’s “The Infamous Date Rape.”

Sweet, Neutral Jams: These songs are heavily date-rapey, but are, at least, mitigated through storytelling devices: i.e., told from the perspective of a creepy rapist/murderer; told through a fucked-up dream about rape and murder. See: Toadies’ “Tyler”; Prince Paul’s “Beautiful Night”

Meh: Just about anyone can write a middling track with date rape undertones. Pass. See: Sublime’s “Date Rape”; Ludacris’ “One More Drink”; 50 Cent’s “She Wants It”; Asher Roth’s “I Love College”

Terrible, Neutral Jams: Britney Spears should never write “message” songs! Like the rest of her songs, they still don’t mean anything, and with Brit-Brit, it’s about 70-30 that the song also totally sucks. See: Britney Spears’ “Blur”

Terrible, Negative Jams: The hottest place in Billboard chart hell should be reserved for really, really, really bad songs that don’t just condone—-but advocate—-rape.One readersuggested that listening to Slick Rick’s ode to raping women in the butt is “more like actually getting date raped.” Listening to Anal Cunt is, similarly, an unpleasant experience, but at least you can’t tell what the fuck they’re talking about. See: Anal Cunt’s “You Were Too Ugly to Rape”; Slick Rick’s “Adults Only”

Sweet, Negative Jams: These songs—-which are fucking sweet except for their terrible date-rape themes—-are the most dangerous of all. Oftentimes, the jam is so sweet, the hook so catchy, Rod Stewart so awesome, that the underlying rape message gets by without comment. I listened to Jamie Foxx’s “Blame It (On the Alcohol)” three times before I realized how noxious it was. And it took CP movie reviewer Tricia Olszewski to reveal that epically sweet jam “Tonight’s the Night” is actually about holing a virgin in your house in order to have sex with her. See: Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night”; Jamie Foxx’s “Blame It (On the Alcohol); Frank Loesser’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”

Terrible, Positive Jams: Still on the lookout for terrible jams with really positive date-rape messages. While a really sweet jam might cause record labels to overlook the song’s date-rapiness, a positive message can never make up for a really bad song. Might Kelly Osborne’s “Don’t Touch Me While I’m Sleeping” qualify?