Musicians have always pushed the boundaries when it comes to censorship. However, there is a big difference between musicians who create vulgar music and artists who understand when to use expletive-laden lyrics to challenge societal standards and to provoke emotions. Nina Simone’s “Mississippi G-d–n” was a response to the murder of Medgar Evers and the four black girls who were killed in a church bombing in Birmingham, Ala.; John Lennon’s “Woman is the N—r of the World” shed light on the mistreatment of women around the world; and N.W.A.’s “F–k tha Police” brought attention to police brutality four years before the infamous Rodney King beating.
Although it doesn’t have the political focus of the songs performed by Simone, Lennon and N.W.A., Cee Lo’s expletive-titled single has also provoked passionate discourse. Titled “F–k You,” the song’s initial karaoke-style video became an instant Internet sensation after receiving four million views in two weeks. It inspired 50 Cent to record a remix and video editors at the Dallas Observer synchronized the song with several memorable scenes from the movies Shawshank Redemption, Say Anything and Dirty Dancing. Co-written and produced by Bruno Mars, the song features a catchy hook and 1960s era sound that is more rousing than André 3000’s undeniable hit, “Hey Ya.”
“F–k You” invites listeners to share a painful moment when a man sees his ex-girlfriend in a car with another guy who appears to have more — well, everything; money, power, prestige, etc. Cee Lo projects a wide array of emotions similar to a thespian performing a one-man stage show. Within three minutes, Cee Lo’s character displays bravado, self-pity, remorse, forgiveness, condemnation and downright agony.