The Parents Music Resource Center and the national Parent-Teacher Association are considering a revival of 1985's high-intensity media campaign against sexually explicit and violent rock lyrics. The consideration is being spurred by the success of several albums that the groups say should -- but don't -- carry the "explicit lyrics" warning labels agreed upon 18 months ago by the industry's trade group, the Recording Industry Association of America. For instance, the Beastie Boys' "Licensed to Ill" has sold 4 1/2 million copies, while Mo tley Cru e's "Girls, Girls, Girls" is America's No. 2 album two weeks after its release. Neither was stickered, though both contain lyrics that the PMRC has identified as explicit. Others not stickered were recent Top 10 albums by Cinderella, Poison and Ozzy Osbourne, all of which have been identified by the PMRC as containing explicit material.
PTA President Ann Kahn is accusing the major record labels of "an appalling lack of taste" and of "thumbing their nose at the public." In a meeting last month with RIAA representatives, the PMRC and PTA were assured their complaints would be forwarded to the individual labels, but that the groups would have to follow up their complaints on a company-by-company basis. The groups have asked to address an upcoming RIAA board of directors meeting (one meeting, scheduled for today, was canceled). The RIAA has declined to let them address a future meeting. "If we let the PRMC meet with them, then the NAACP is going to want to meet with them," says RIAA spokesperson Trish Heimers. "And then every other organization in America that wants the ear of our board is going to want to meet."
The PMRC's report on records released between Jan. 1, 1986, and May 19, 1987, lists 14 albums by RIAA member companies with explicit lyrics that bear warning labels or printed lyrics and 25 albums containing explicit lyrics with no warning label or printed lyrics. (The PMRC notes that explicit lyrics are more likely to be found on releases by small independent labels, which are not generally RIAA members.) Of the 14 albums in compliance, only two followed the RIAA guidelines (with printed lyrics, but no stickers), and many of the other warnings were played down to the point where they couldn't be easily read. The stickers don't prevent anyone from buying the records, but serve as a parental advisory, says the PMRC, which is concerned about the effect of explicit lyrics on younger children. Compliance by the labels is voluntary.
George Michael's Video After a big fuss, the edited video for ex-Wham! singer George Michael's "I Want Your Sex" premiered (hourly) on MTV last Thursday night and turned out to be as vacuous as one would expect from Man George. His painting the words "Explore Monogamy" on his lover's back at the end of a slew of savagely sexist images is a little like putting up "Speed Limit 55" signs in a Mad Max movie, and makes Mo tley Cru e's stupid and degrading "Girls, Girls, Girls" video look like a Girl Scout recruiting ad.
Naturally, these videos received a much higher profile than that afforded Peter Gabriel's recent video for "Don't Give Up," a duet with Kate Bush that is a moving song about friendship and the quiet sustenance of community. The video by master directors Kevin Godley and Lol Creme not only was done as a single take, and mostly in close-up (which may be a first), but was as unsexy as it could be: Gabriel and Bush hugging each other in nonsexual support.
Whitney & the Chart Watch Whitney Houston, whose eponymous album last year was the largest-selling debut album ever by a solo performer, has hit the jackpot again with her second effort, "Whitney," which has rocketed to the top of Billboard's album chart. Concurrently, the album's first single, "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)," has jumped to the No. 1 spot on Billboard's Top 100 Singles (a feat it also accomplished on the English charts).
Houston is gearing up for a national tour that begins July 4; she'll be at the Merriweather Post Pavilion July 11 and 12.
Elsewhere on the album chart, Mo tley Cru e's "Girls, Girls, Girls" is at No. 2, U2's "Joshua Tree" drops to No. 3 (after 11 weeks at the top) and Whitesnake's "Whitesnake" drops to No. 4. Bon Jovi's "Slippery When Wet" slips a notch from No. 4 to No. 5, though it's still been in the Top 5 for 42 consecutive weeks.
On the singles chart, Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" climbs from No. 3 to No. 1, bumping Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam's "Head to Toe" to No. 2. "In Too Deep" by Genesis climbs one place to No. 3, while Heart's "Alone" rises to No. 4. Atlantic Starr's "Always" slips from No. 2 to No. 5.