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Monday, 27 October 2014

Sex Sells: Do Female Artists Need to Strip Off to Stay in the Spotlight?

Enough is NEVER Enough for Fame

By Dawn Wood.

Image Courtesy of Jack Bruunhammond.

When it comes to the music and entertainment industry, sex sells. There's no denying that sex seems to be everywhere: on the covers of magazines, in music videos, and in marketing campaigns. But the question we need to be asking is, do artists need to strip off in order to try and boost their record sales?

The answer to this is both yes and no – there are two sides to every story, and the music industry is no exception. In fact, now more than ever it has become apparent that if you're a female singer in any musical niche, you should be showing some flesh.

However, this idea is not necessarily a new idea. Take a look at the likes of Madonna, Janet Jackson and Grace Jones - all three ladies are incredibly strong artists who have and continue to take extra risks with how creative and sexual their video content is. After all, they were certainly considered to be at the height of their music careers back in the 80's. This just goes to show that either women have chosen to seduce their audiences with their raunchy dance routines, racy stage shows, and empowering imagery willingly, or their record labels are telling them to act a certain way in front of the camera, with the aim of selling more records as a result.

According to a recent article from Hello Magazine, Madonna admitted that starting out in the music business as a young female was no easy task to accomplish, saying "I became an over-achiever to get approval from the world." 

Women definitely seem to have a shorter shelf-life than men, a fact that has almost become common knowledge. It may sound unfair that men don't seem to have to go to such great lengths in order to 'get ahead' in their careers, but rather they are the dominant gender, especially in the tough world of media. This opinion is expressed in further depth in this article.

Modern artists including Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus, Rihanna and Beyonce seem to have stolen the limelight from their 80's icons and taken the meaning behind 'sex sells' to a whole new extreme. For example, in Nicki Minaj's video for one of her most recent singles 'Anaconda', the American star can be seen 'twerking' and lap dancing provocatively in front of male rapper, Drake - her token male interest. But critics have argued that she may have taken her sexuality too far this time. 

Twerking has become a trend in its own right. On the one hand, this can be seen as just a bit of fun for the dance floor, but when female audiences are subjected to constant booty shaking from scantily-clad celebrities, it can actually detract from the credibility of an artist.

That being said, there are some modern day female artists who have stood the test of time and continue to evolve vocally, artistically, and with how they empower us. Beyonce is a perfect example of how you don't have to be 21 and talentless to be able to capture the attention of an audience. She is inspirational in that she always manages to sell records based on her vocal talent. Now of course, Beyonce does experiment with her own sexuality, but she does this in a way that is creative and tasteful, as opposed to cheap and nasty.

As far as the future of the music industry is concerned, we are likely to continue seeing 'the next big thing' in terms of new solo artists, female groups, and reality TV stars, as unfortunately we do live in an ageist society. All we can do is take the positives from our favourite role models and hope that record labels will help to promote women in the best light possible, without having to force them to act in a distasteful manner.

Note: All images not taken by me.

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