USA: American pop singer pressured to rerecord song

15 April 2009
When American pop singer Britney Spears’ hit song ‘If U Seek Amy’ risked censorship on radio stations because of a controversy over its use of a ‘sexually offensive’ double entendre in the chorus, she decided to rerecord the song and publish a less offensive version.

Say it quickly: ‘If U Seek Amy’.
It sounds as ‘f. u. c. k. me’.

Radio stations across the United States and United Kingdom deemed the track too offensive to broadcast, and in response to the criticism — in order to avoid being blacklisted — Britney Spears announced in January 2009 that she would change the title and amend the allegedly offensive sections of the song.

A new radio edit single was created, entitled ‘If U See Amy’ where the ‘k’ in ‘seek’ had been muted and the chorus speeded up, resulting in a thirteen seconds shorter duration of the song.

The decision meant that the lyrics no longer made any sense, but “the realities of the global record industry meant that she was probably left with little alternative,” wrote The Independent.

The amended version of the song was released as the third single from Britney Spears’ platinum-selling album ‘Circus’ on 10 March 2009 in the US, and is to be released in the United Kingdom in May 2009.

The offensive lyrics
The original chorus line says:

    • “All of the boys and all of the girls are beggin’
    to If U Seek Amy”

and in another part of the chorus, Britney sings:

    • “Oh baby, baby, If You Seek Amy tonight
    Oh baby, baby, we’ll do whatever you like”

Radio stations ‘irresponsible’
The private, non-governmental and self-appointed American media watchdog group The Parents Television Council was among the first to caution radio stations and cable music channels about broadcasting the song and the music video for this song.

The United Kingdom’s biggest radio station, BBC Radio 1, banned the song — something which prompted many fans to complain to the station.

An Australian mother’s group slammed the song as ‘horrifying’ and ‘objectionable’.

The Australian music site quoted parents as saying, “I was astonished and totally taken aback when I heard my 5 and 7 year old kids walking around the house singing ‘F-U-C-K’ … When I asked them what it was, they told me it was Britney Spears. I was horrified.”

Angry parents were reported to have “swamped the Australian Family Association with complaints about risque hits on the radio,” which also includes the English pop singer Lily Allen’s songs, ‘Not Fair’ and ‘F*** You’.

Ken Francis, president of Australian Family Association Queensland, said the radio stations were being irresponsible:

“There are many parents who are concerned about what is being played on the radio. Radio has a responsibility for the wellbeing of children and teens who listen. I really don’t understand why those sexually explicit songs need to be played at all,” the Courier Mail quoted Ken Francis as saying.

Defended the song
Estelle Paterson of the Australian radio Nova 100 FM, said: “The Britney song isn’t swearing. It’s a cheeky play on words. If we had to ban that song until late evening, we’d have to do the same with most songs we play.”

The American magazine Rolling Stone defended Britney Spears, arguing that parents should have been aware of the singer’s musical themes.



Thaindian News – 5 April 2009:

‘Explicit Britney Spears, Lily Allen songs leave Oz parents livid’

The Independent – 21 January 2009:

”Squeaky-clean’ Britney falls foul of lyric censors’

Wikipedia, the open encyclopedia – continously edited by its users:

‘If U Seek Amy’

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