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Darling Nikki -- where's the outrage?

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Darling Nikki -- where's the outrage?

Old 01-27-04, 10:27 AM
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Darling Nikki -- where's the outrage?

About 20 years ago, a 12-year-old girl brought home a record album that her mother thought was crude and offensive. That sort of thing has been happening since before Elvis first swung his hips, and continues to this day, but this incident was different, since the girl was Karenna Gore, and her mother, Tipper, founded the PMRC as a result of the offensive lyrics she heard in the song "Darling Nikki."

20 years later, the song is back, and nobody seems to give a damn.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/featur...isuretempo-hed

'Darling Nikki' is back, but where's the outrage now?

By Jim Abbott, Tribune Newspapers. Jim Abbott is the Orlando Sentinel's pop music critic
Published January 27, 2004

"Darling Nikki" came back, but no one really noticed.

Maybe we were too busy ogling the Paris Hilton video.

In case you don't remember, "Darling Nikki" is a song about a "sex fiend" and the dirty things she does in a hotel lobby with a magazine.

It was pretty racy stuff in 1984, when Tipper Gore heard her young daughter listening to the original version on Prince's "Purple Rain." Because of "Darling Nikki," she started the Parents Music Resource Center in 1985 and a movement that eventually succeeded in putting content labels on albums.

Two decades later, the new "Nikki" has made nary a ripple on rock radio, where young listeners are surprised to learn that the Foo Fighters version isn't the first.


Nikki still likes to grind, but it doesn't sound that shocking anymore. Besides, the world is full of real-life Nikkis -- Paris and Britney and Christina, for starters.

Pornography is a mammoth and legitimate business. Violence and sex have been transformed into critically acclaimed art on HBO's "The Sopranos" or low-brow farce on Comedy Central's "The Man Show.

The old girl is more of a nostalgia act now, which is just the way it goes.

"Every generation's mores shock the previous generation," says Ken Paulson, executive director of the First Amendment Center, a free-speech advocacy organization based at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. "Just look at Cole Porter, who wrote that a `glimpse of stocking was once thought of as shocking.' That's a song writen 70 years ago about how shocking the new generation is.

"That's what happens with popular culture, so it's really important to maintain a sense of perspective. The song `With a Little Help From My Friends' was denigrated by Vice President Spiro Agnew in a speech in Las Vegas, in which he told the audience that the Beatles were trying to subvert kids through code.

"Now that song is in elevators and in frozen-food sections."


Though Gore was maligned by some corners of the media and by rock stars, Paulson says he has no quarrel with her instincts as a concerned parent.

Not good for free speech

But he doesn't think the PMRC was ultimately good for the record industry or free speech.

"The moral of the story is that today's dangerous music is tomorrow's Muzak," he says. "It's just the rhythm of life."

Gore stepped down from the PMRC when her husband became vice president in 1992, and the group maintained a low profile in the 1990s. She couldn't be reached for comment, but other organizations are still busy monitoring an exponentially expanding media landscape that is still pushing the boundaries of taste.

Everything from rapper 50 Cent to the language and situations on TV reality shows to Internet porn vindicates Gore's foresight two decades ago, says a 10-year staff member of the conservative advocacy group Focus on the Family.

"Tipper was definitely on the right track all along," says Bob Waliszewski, manager of Focus on the Family's entertainment-review department. "I'm not sure if the culture as a whole is ready to accept that. If we were, there wouldn't be this collective yawn right now over `Nikki."'

Waliszewski says that, in 1984, "Nikki" was "kind of the worst thing that was out there, and now this kind of stuff is way too commonplace, but that doesn't make it right. What it does say is that parents have been desensitized and have delegated that area of child-raising to kids themselves."

As a CD reviewer for Focus on the Family's Web site, Waliszewski praises groups such as Lifehouse, Creed, Train, Jimmy Eat World and singer Michelle Branch, but says that he can't endorse the vast majority of music he hears.

"When Eminem speaks of raping his mother, or when Trent Reznor sang a few years back that he wants to `blank' you like an animal, it's all about perverse sex. Where is the outrage? It shouldn't be just from conservative groups like Focus on the Family. It should come from women's groups, men's groups, parenting groups, PTAs. This should be your mechanic in the local garage saying, `What is this garbage?'"

Even if such images are shocking, there's no evidence that outrageous or profane lyrics have ever permanently scarred young listeners, says writer and radio commentator Eric Nuzum, author of "Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America" (HarperCollins, 368 pages, $15), a book on the rise of the PMRC. Nuzum was 18 when Gore first heard "Darling Nikki" and was outraged by the congressional hearings that called stars such as Frank Zappa, Twisted Sister's Dee Snider and pop star John Denver to defend their music.

"There was a widespread belief at that time that rock musicians were Satanists and worshipped the devil. My girlfriend remembers a lecture that she had in her junior high class about the evils of satanic rock musicians, so it was a very mainstream belief at that time. One of the most terrible things about the PMRC was that it legitimized that for the first time."

Heavy-metal focus

Heavy-metal bands were a major focus of the PMRC, but it was another form of pop music that ultimately was more affected, says Paulson.

"Hearings about heavy-metal rock 'n' roll actually had modest impact on rock 'n' roll and had maximum impact on music of African-American hip-hop and rap performers. In 1991, Wal-Mart decided it wouldn't carry stickered CDs, and that has affected a disproportionate amount of music from African-American performers. So, sometimes, the target is not the one that gets hit."

To get around the roadblock, artists and record labels release both "clean" and explicit versions of labeled albums, which dilutes the credibility of the advisories.

No label

The Foo Fighters' "Darling Nikki," a B-side to the band's "Have It All" single, does not carry a label.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that society has become more shock-proof in the intervening years, says Paulson. He says that there are many groups lobbying the Federal Communications Commission to tighten the constraints on language and situations on television.

Still, Paulson says, the explosion of media in the last 20 years will make it harder for any group to wield the influence once carried by the PMRC.

"For outrage to build, it takes one guy saying to another guy at the water cooler, `Hey did you see that last night?' More often than not today, the answer is `No.'"

"A program like `The Man Show' wouldn't have existed 20 years ago. It wouldn't have lasted 10 minutes on network television, but you build a niche audience through excess, and that means there's not a consensus of outrage. The person who tunes into `The Man Show' is not the person who will call the FCC."

The most powerful forces affecting content now are economic, Paulson says.

In the 21st Century, the new dirty words are politics and religion.

"The most censored group of this past year was the Dixie Chicks, and it had nothing to do with sexuality or profane words," Paulson says. "It had to do with politics."

The multiplatinum country trio found itself shunned by country radio after singer Natalie Maines made remarks critical of President Bush to a London concert audience. There were rallies at which the band's albums were burned, and the group was vilified by some corners of the media. Singer Toby Keith, who had a hit with the jingoistic "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)" projected images of the Chicks to spark boos at some concerts.

The Chicks aren't alone. Bruce Springsteen incurred the wrath of New York City's Fraternal Order of Police for performing "American Skin (41 Shots)," a song that decried the controversial police shooting death of Amadou Diallo. Singer-songwriter Steve Earle was called a traitor for "John Walker's Blues," his song that attempted to go inside the mind of the American Taliban.

So, while sex sells, politics often is bad business.

"There's a reluctance in the record business and the radio industry to embrace a song that actually makes a point about anything," Paulson says. "When was the last time you heard a popular song that said anything about the human condition, injustice or political change. Contrast that to the 1960s, when seemingly every song was on one side or the other and recording artists were free to express themselves politically in music.

"No one wants that anymore. They are afraid of boycotts."

It's equally rare to hear a mainstream hit that alludes to faith.

"Did they stop writing those songs? Or did they just decide they aren't particularly good for business?" Paulson asks. "There's no question there's a market for Christian music, but it's not on mainstream radio. Anything that might divide us gets left out of the mix."

So until she makes a political endorsement, Darling Nikki fits right in.
Here are the lyrics to Darling Nikki:

I knew a girl named nikki
I guess u could say she was a sex fiend
I met her in a hotel lobby
Masturbating with a magazine
She said how’d u like 2 waste some time
And I could not resist when I saw little nikki grind

She took me 2 her castle
And I just couldn’t believe my eyes
She had so many devices
Everything that money could buy
She said sign your name on the dotted line
The lights went out
And nikki started 2 grind

Nikki

The castle started spinning
Or maybe it was my brain
I can’t tell u what she did 2 me
But my body will never be the same
Her lovin’ will kick your behind
Oh, she’ll show u no mercy
But she’ll sho’nuff sho’nuff show u how 2 grind

Darlin’ nikki

Woke up the next morning
Nikki wasn’t there
I looked all over and all I found
Was a phone unmber on the stairs
It said thank u 4 a funky time
Call me up whenever u want 2 grind

Oh, nikki, ohhhh

Come back nikki, come back
Your dirty little prince
Wanna grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind

{backwards at the end...}
"hello, how r u? I’m fine. ’cause I know
That the lord is coming soon, coming, coming soon."
Important parts (including reference to a water cooler) bolded for the convenience of kvrdave.

Last edited by JasonF; 01-27-04 at 10:30 AM.
Old 01-27-04, 10:34 AM
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I dont' think I've heard that song. Reading the lyrics, it doesn't look like the greatest, but why would it cause any sort of outrage in a remake when there is far worse stuff out there now already?
Old 01-27-04, 10:35 AM
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Music Talk!?! Nuts! This is a thread about changing social mores, not a thread about Prince Lyrics. I demand to be moved back to Otter!
Old 01-27-04, 01:04 PM
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Dave Grohl singing it today and Prince singing it back in 1984, when he was visible in Purple Rain doing his thing made it that different. Possibly?
Old 01-27-04, 01:21 PM
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"Reading the lyrics, it doesn't look like the greatest, but why would it cause any sort of outrage in a remake when there is far worse stuff out there now already?"

I believe that was exactly his point. Todays 'satan worshippers' are tomorrows 'Hit Reality TV Show'. Osbournes anyone?
Old 01-27-04, 02:12 PM
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Originally posted by C_Fletch

I believe that was exactly his point. Todays 'satan worshippers' are tomorrows 'Hit Reality TV Show'. Osbournes anyone?
Clearly showing that we are truly skipping towards Gommorrah.
Old 01-27-04, 03:02 PM
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The only thing that shocks me about this thread is that "Darling Nikki" is 20 years old!

I can remember jumping on the trampoline listening to the Purple Rain soundtrack with friends and we would all discuss how "dirty" the lyrics were (even though we didn't understand them).

As far as the Foo Fighters version of the song...I am not impressed. It really sounds no different from the original. If you are going to cover a song at least make it sound new.
Old 01-27-04, 03:15 PM
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The Foo Fighters did a great cover of this song.
Old 01-27-04, 04:04 PM
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"Clearly showing that we are truly skipping towards Gommorrah."

That's exactly what they said 2000 years ago. Guess what? We're still here.
Old 01-27-04, 04:07 PM
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My milkshake is better than yours...

Last edited by slop101; 01-27-04 at 04:14 PM.
Old 01-27-04, 09:00 PM
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the purple rain soundtrack is still released in where i live minus darling nikki ...
Old 01-28-04, 02:20 AM
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Originally posted by slop101
My milkshake is better than yours...



Makes Darling Nikki seem tame
Old 01-28-04, 02:50 AM
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Darling Nikki was nothing compared to Erotic City.

The Foo Fighters version is ok, but I'd rather listen to the original. Seems like way too many covers are being done these days and that the only thing they have going for them, is that most kids (those I would say that are born after '84) have no idea they are covers. And the artist doing the covers offer nothing new to make it their own sound. I have a friend who's band used to cover Berlin's Metro and gave it their own twist by making it punk. Much like Alien Ant Farm and Smooth Criminal.

Some examples of unoriginality...
Mariah Carey/Brenda K Starr - I Still Believe.
Allure&112/Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam - All Cried Out.
No Doubt/Talk Talk - It's My Life.
Old 01-28-04, 04:32 PM
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A girl I worked with asked me yesterday if I had heard the new Foo Fighters song because everytime she heard it she thought of my wife (because her name not the actions ). She said it was called Nikki something and the lyrics were kinda nasty. I almost had to cry as I shook my head and had to explain to her that it was a 20 year old song, and one that my wife hates to this day as she has been teased about this song for years.
Old 01-29-04, 12:19 PM
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The Foo Fighters did an awful cover of this song.
Old 01-29-04, 03:00 PM
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Times change, so does the outrage. During the last Pres elections I couldn't decide which candidate to vote for. Then I remembered that Tipper started the entire PMRC movement so I voted for Dubya!
Old 01-29-04, 03:11 PM
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There is no outrage because it is the year 2004.
Old 01-29-04, 03:36 PM
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the outrage for Darling Nikki is with the rest of the 'outrages' of the past, brought up by politicians. The Reagan/Bush era was great for this kind of stuff.
Old 01-29-04, 05:30 PM
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Ah, the good old days...
Old 01-30-04, 12:05 AM
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A thread in music bolded just for me. YEA ME!!!!

I can't believe how many of you guys haven't heard of this song. This was one of the best songs around at the time, imo. This was back before the term "masterbate" was even really used.

I didn't know there was a remake. I will check it out.

I don't know that I will let my 4 year old continue listening to it, but I thought it was a great song.
Old 01-30-04, 12:16 AM
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download, listen, delete.

Doesn't do it justice. The original (which I am listening to now) is far and away better.

Plus, I can't listen to a Prince song without picturing him in Purple Rain yelling "Hey Motherf***er!" and laughing my butt off. What a wuss.

But, I still don't remember why Babylonia, or Abalonia, or whatever her name was got so pissed when he sang the song. Any clues?
Old 01-30-04, 12:20 AM
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Last word, if you haven't watched the movie, it is a MUST. Morris Day and The Time is well worth watching by themselves.

Everybody do the bird!
Old 01-30-04, 03:06 PM
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Originally posted by balancer
The Reagan/Bush era was great for this kind of stuff.
Funny how it was a GORE that made the biggest deal about it.
Old 01-30-04, 03:21 PM
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Originally posted by brianluvdvd
Funny how it was a GORE that made the biggest deal about it.
Ahh, you must have forgotten about the Moral Majority.
Old 01-30-04, 04:27 PM
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Originally posted by funkyryno
Ahh, you must have forgotten about the Moral Majority.
Funny. There's NO mention of either Bush or Reagan in that link.

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