Updated: Nov 15
There are times when we think back on a song and realize, “Wow, that didn’t age well,” or “Yikes, this sounds bad now.” What song comes to mind for you? There are so many songs to choose from that fit into this category, so I had to make a part 2 (you can read part 1 here if you missed it). In part one, we covered songs that ranged from problematic to just plain bad. In this second edition, we’ll be covering songs from across the board including disrespectful lyrics and lyrics that should have put people on a watchlist. So without further preamble, here are 7 more songs that haven’t aged well.
7. Come on Eileen” – Dexy Midnight Runners
This is a popular, well-loved song, but how many people pay attention to the lyrics? This is an entire song devoted to trying to wear poor Eileen down until she agrees to sleep with him. It’s full of thinly veiled kind words that are actually just creepy. Plus, the line, “you’ve grown up” makes it seem that this is a newly legal woman, and now that she’s “grown up,” his thoughts “verge on dirty.” It just gets more aggressive as the song continues, with the singer begging “Take off everything, that pretty red dress.” I’ve loved this song for years but never knew all the lyrics. It wouldn’t be so yikes if it wasn’t about a newly legal woman (or maybe even still underaged). Once you know, the song is tainted forever. Come on, Eileen. Tell this guy to leave you alone.
6. “Undead” – Hollywood Undead
This song is a sign of the times and what you could away with saying in the 2000s. Full of slurs and cringy lyrics beyond belief, this is a relic of its time. Hollywood Undead’s single “Undead” put them on the map, playing on radio stations across the country in 2008. I remember thinking this song was so cool upon its release. But looking back on it 15 years later, I can’t help but cringe.
In the late 2000s, it was considered edgy to throw around the f slur. If a song like this came out today with that language, the band would be considered homophobic. They also tell a hater to slit his wrists, which is just…yikes. In the original version of the song, there’s also a moment where they talk about killing a gay person and stuffing the body in their Cadillac. The released version you find online doesn’t include this part at all. In recent years, Hollywood Undead has said they regret some of the stuff they said on their first album because they see now some of the stuff they were saying to push the envelope can also lead to people hearing those lyrics and hurting others. It’s good to know they regret it, but it doesn’t change that a lot of those "f slurs" are still in there and are majorly cringey if you listen to it today.
5. “Do What You Want” – Lady Gaga ft. R. Kelly
Anyone who knows anything about R. Kelly and the charges against him can already discern why this song hasn’t aged well. For those who don’t, Robert (R) Kelly was convicted of three counts of producing child pornography and three counts of enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity. Any song featuring him has been tainted by his conviction. “Do What You Want” is about Gaga fighting back against society trying to control her life. While the song itself doesn’t have a bad message, having R. Kelly on a track with lyrics like “Do what you want to my body” just puts a bad taste in your mouth. His verse even explicitly states he’s going to do what he wants with her body. Yikes.
There’s also an American Music Awards performance from 2013 with the two that’s just awful to watch ten years later. Someone uploaded the performance on YouTube and edited jail bars over top of it, which is so fitting because... what in the world?
4. “Let’s Get It Started” – Black Eyed Peas
If not for the vastly popular radio edit of this song, this song may not have taken off like it did. The original version of this song uses an r-slur that society chooses not to use anymore, and rightly so. How the word is used in the song refers to being very carefree and having a good time - and sometimes meaning intoxicated, similar to the colloquial use of getting "blind", "wasted", or "smashed." I know the slur is meant to be just about getting crazy and ready to party but using that word to get the point across has not aged well. The first line of the verse does say, “In this context, there’s no disrespect” but it doesn’t really make it any better. I’m glad the edited version hit it big because the song is great and doesn’t need to use that word to get its point across. Still, knowing it started out differently can ruin the song for future listeners.
3. “Him & I” – Halsey Ft. G. Eazy
If you listen to the song knowing nothing about who’s singing it, you may think of “Him & I” as a love song about devotion. Halsey and G. Eazy may have felt this at some point during their relationship, but not anymore. The song came out in November 2017, and by July 2018, the pair had broken up. Although it was never explicitly said, Halsey left clues that the reason they broke up was because he cheated, even going as far as showing apology messages from him as a backdrop for an SNL performance. Knowing the history between these artists, the song has aged like milk. With lyrics like, “ever catch me cheating she would try to cut my (ha ha ha)” and “to my lover, I’d never lie” you can’t help but cringe at the song. Much of the song talks about how devoted Halsey is to him, and it’s a shame she was betrayed like that. The song doesn’t hit the same once you know how it ends for the two.
2. “Seventeen Forever” – Metro Station
Metro Station itself is a product of a different time. The 2000s Myspace electro-pop sound is one you don’t hear as often these days. Back in 2008, they were one of the “it” bands in the scene with their hit “Shake It.” While most people’s knowledge of the band starts and ends with “Shake It”, the album the song comes from is full of cringey and poorly aged tracks. The worst offender is “Seventeen Forever.” This is a song about having sex with a 17-year-old despite the lyrics, “This is wrong, but who am I to judge” and “Let's not ask why it's not right.” It’s pretty clear from the first line that this is a grown man trying to sleep with a teenager, despite knowing it’s wrong. They try to justify it by saying the girl is “Wise beyond [her] years” and the man pursuing is also “young.” But if it were okay, why would he be questioning if it’s right? This whole song gives me the ick and has not aged well at all. Heck, it wasn’t even good back in 2008.
1. “I Wanna Love You” – Akon
If I may add some personal context to this one…when this song came out, I loved it. This was my favorite song when I was 12. If you know the lyrics, you may be wondering where my parents were when I listened to this raunchy song. But the thing is that I didn’t listen to the original. I only knew the radio-friendly version that changed, “I see you windin’ and grindin’ up on that pole. I know you see me looking at you and you already know I wanna f*ck you.” to (at least to my ears) “I see you whining and crying up on the floor. I know you see me looking at you and you already know I wanna love you.” It sounded romantic to me as a kid, and with the changed lyrics, it can be perceived that way. But the original version that’s extremely graphic hasn’t aged well either. A whole song devoted to Akon and Snoop Dogg wanting to have sex with strippers. By today’s standards, it’s bordering on misogyny, seeing women only as sexual objects. This one may be a stretch compared to the others, but I think the lyrics haven’t aged well.
From criminal performers to lyrics that are borderline criminal, what do you think of these songs? Do you agree that they’ve aged badly, or are there any you don’t see any issues with? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. I still listen to these songs on occasion, but they’ll never be the same knowing the context or true lyrics behind them. Some songs come out and you wonder how they were accepted in the first place. As I said in the introduction. There’s a huge well of songs that fit into this category, so be on the lookout for a part 3. What songs do you think will be in the next edition? Comment any predictions. Thanks for reading.
Written by Kristen Petronio