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Talk Dirty and Get Down Tonight

Lately, this is what blasts out of my car stereo as soon as I start the engine: “But your booty don’t need explaining/Talk dirty to me…”

It is the favorite song of my 8-year-old, with “Turn Down for What” a close second. Yes, both are the “clean” versions of the songs and are featured on the CD “Now That’s What I Call Music 50.”

Every morning on the way to summer camp I get to hear Jason Derulo sing about how he needs a new passport and that girl he met in Rio. I banned the song for a while, solely because of the title/chorus. But then I realized my son has no idea what it means and really just likes the tune.


It makes for a bracing and loud ride to camp, but it gets him in a good mood.

One song I will NOT allow, however, is another of Derulo’s called “Wiggle” because it is all about a woman’s posterior. (And a ham sammich).

No. I have my limits.

Sometimes I wonder if that is hypocritical, however, because I occasionally burst out singing Sir Mix-a-Lot’s classic “I like big butts and I can not lie!” My son joins in, because he is eight and butts are funny. But those are pretty much all the words I remember from that 1990s song and I never play it in the car.

Growing up in Northeast Philadelphia, my friends and I belted out many song lyrics, not fully understanding the meaning. My friend Anne and I took dance lessons and performed a jazz-dance routine at St. Timothy’s Talent Show when we were nine. The song? “Get Down Tonight” by KC and the Sunshine Band.

Here are some lyrics: “Do a little dance/make a little love/get down tonight.”
We had NO idea what it meant. We liked it because of its disco-ness and because it was on my WFIL record album. Later, we sang “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir” with great enthusiasm, but didn’t really comprehend that meaning either. Something about a bed?

The Millennial Generation may disagree but I was lucky to go to high school and college during the BEST decade ever for music – the 1980s. By then, I fully understood the deep, philosophical meaning to such songs as “Bust A Move” and “Funky Cold Medina.”

Oh and we danced, too. None of this grinding or twerking stuff. We moved our feet and arms and entire bodies. Not just our booties.

I think I know what songs need to go into my car’s CD player tomorrow.

Kathryn Quigley is an associate professor of journalism at Rowan University and a Philadelphia native. She can be reached at kathrynsquigley@gmail.com

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