The charts were once dominated by pornified raunch, but in an era of identity politics and empowered women, a new kind of sexuality is emerging in pop – and warming cyberspace
When Robin Thicke and Pharrell released Blurred Lines on 26 March 2013, they had no idea (or claimed not to) that it would kickstart a debate about rape culture and misogyny in pop . The outraged response to its suggestive lyrics – particularly the refrain “I know you want it” – permanently changed the standards to which pop is held, and the way in which pop itself deals with sex.
That is not to say that sex has vanished from pop since the controversy. Jason Derulo and Bruno Mars are no strangers to objectification; ex-boybanders such as the former One Direction members are still breaking with their clean-cut pasts by letting you know in song exactly how much sex they’re having; while Brit awards nominee J Hus cackles in the face of good taste. In 2016, Ariana Grande released a classic of the form in the admirably brazen Side to Side, about the inability to walk straight after a long night at the coal face.