By Sakhi Nair
Edited By Nandita Singh, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
Trying to quench my insatiable thirst for new music, I found myself checking the Top 20 charts on a popular music application. As I browsed through, I almost spilled my cup of coffee in shock as I saw the song in the number one position – Blue Eyes by Yo Yo Honey Singh! I had never liked the rapper even though he was quite popular among my friends, and my ears had already repeatedly been subject to torture at several social gatherings where his songs were played “on popular demand.” The most harrowing of such situations being my own party, where the DJ, against my will, only played his songs because according to him, that’s what people ‘enjoy’. By now you would have probably understood that I’m not exactly a fan, hence the sarcastic title.
Honey Singh is currently the highest paid singer in Bollywood. The success formula for every mainstream Bollywood movie seems to be – feature a Honey Singh song, generate hype, and increase publicity. It should come as no surprise then that he has won several awards for his music and performed at even more award functions. His videos on YouTube get a million hits and his concerts are packed. In a country where the urban youth could only turn to international artists like Lil Wayne and Eminem for rap, the Punjabi rapper gained popularity almost overnight. The desi, foul-mouthed version of Kanye West has numerous chart-topping hits to his credit. All this makes me think – has the choice of the current generation really degraded to such an extent? His biography on his website (yes he has his own website) describes him as today’s youth icon. Have we really stooped down to a level where we have made a man who only writes songs about alcohol and women, our youth icon?
His songs are all about an ill-defined image of partying. The objectification of women and glorification of alcohol and drugs is evident from the titles of the songs themselves. Take some for example – Chaar Botal Vodka, Dope Shope, High Heels, Brown Rang and many more. It is saddening to see that the film industry, which was once bejeweled by lyricists such as Gulzar and Majrooh Sultanpuri, is now being subject to utterly meaningless lyrics by Honey Singh. An average Honey Singh song is about partying, women, booze, and well, more women. Honey Singh has taught the youth a lot of indispensable lessons through his nonsensical, mostly crass lyrics, so much so that it makes the average logical person want to lament and cry at their utter ridiculousness. If we were to go by his lyrics, the ideal woman according to him wears short dresses and high heels, weighs 47 kgs, flaunts big brands like Gucci and Prada, waits at a bar for him all night, is brown in colour, and has blue eyes. In one of his most controversially famous songs, he claims to be a rapist and has no qualms about it. His music videos are no less, as they portray women wearing heavy make-up and short dresses surrounding and seducing him. Being a feminist, this objectification of women certainly has me leaving no opportunity to criticize him. Glorification of the use of alcohol and other substances is yet another problem with his lyrics, a la songs like Main Sharaabi, Dope Shope and of course, Chaar Botal Vodka. His logic says, “Ignore your liver and drink four bottles of vodka everyday,” and if your neighbours have a problem with you partying too loud, ignore them too. Basically, his lyrics just give the youth a warped sense of reality in which they are permitted to break all rules, and probably most laws.
I don’t know whether there is a problem with the music taste of his fans or if it is just my snobbishness, but Yo Yo Honey Singh is way too detrimental for our culture. Given how popular he is, profit-seeking producers are not going to stop publicising him anytime soon. Ultimately, it only depends upon the discretion of the listeners on how to interpret them, because for any sane person, the songs are nothing, but mindless. Unless of course, the person has chugged down four bottles of vodka.
Sakhi is a 12th grade student planning to pursue Mass Communication. She is a keen observer of everything that her eyes can see and never leaves herself out of a stimulating conversation. She considers the freedom of expression to be the fourth necessity of life and believes the world could be a better place if we could just listen. Her interests include photography, music and satire. You can wade through her musings at http://www.neuroticpeanuts.blogspot.com.