The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of Booty In Music
"Little in the middle, but she got much back." That's how Sir Mix-a-Lot described his ideal woman more than two decades ago in his classic 1992 booty-jiggling, body-gyrating anthem "Baby Got Back." Essentially, the song served as a catalyst to get those hesitant high-school seniors on the dance floor at prom. There's something about that "I like big butts and I cannot lie" lyric that gives listeners a sense of obligation to get up and embrace every last bit of its novelty and ridiculousness.
There's a sort of "Cha Cha Slide"/"Cupid Shuffle"-esque appeal to the song, and you know exactly what I'm talking about.
"Baby Got Back" proved that America really is obsessed with butts. Thick, juicy butt cheeks -- the idea really gets people going as much as it divides them. There were those who celebrated and shook their big booty to the song whenever it came on, there were the concerned parents who discontinued MTV in their households and then there were the feminists.
These were the people who ranted about the backwards gender roles and female objectification in the song's lyrics and, most prominently, in its accompanying music video. The big-bootied woman is putting in work, shaking her butt ultimately for Mix-a-Lot's pleasure, presenting herself as an object for a man's satisfaction rather than being her own sexual entity. Each of these sexually charged music videos, the argument went, detracted from the gender equality that feminist leaders of the late 20th century had worked so hard to achieve.
Fast-forward to the early 2000s. The controversy and excitement surrounding "Baby Got Back" had died down, and the music scene was in a place where a big booty was not really something to strive for. With bubblegum-pop singers like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera flaunting their thin figures and toned abs, it seemed like it was all about accentuating your skinny.
But skip ahead a few more years, and the big booty began coming back; take Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps" or Flo Rida's club anthem "Low." By this point, pop artists were recognizing curves in their songs and music videos, but more as a way to gain attention and sell songs.
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Now, fast-forward again to today. Meghan Trainor is "bringing booty back," Beyoncé is demanding to "sit this ass on you," and J-Lo wants you to "throw your hands up if you love a big booty." In 2014, the booty is back in full force, but not in the one-dimensional way you may expect coming from these typically sexualized female pop stars.
You can learn a lot about the general consensus of certain music videos just by taking a look at the YouTube comments section below them. There you'll see debates on just about everything; however, the most popular question being posed about mainstream videos, especially those by female pop stars, seems to be, "Is this sexually objectifying or not?"
To address this commentary, more recent stars have taken ownership of this widespread "sexualization" epidemic by giving us opinionated viewers exactly what we're asking for: butts.
Then, this past summer, along came Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda" video. For weeks after its release, "Anaconda" -- which kicks off with a "Baby Got Back" sample -- was about all anyone talked about because of its high-octane twerking and ferocious shots of Minaj's earth-rattling derriere. Watch the video once, and here's what you'll see: Nicki and her band of female twerkers in the jungle shaking their butts on each other, exercising to get their glutes even bigger, deep-throating bananas, and ending in a final showdown in which Nicki seduces a man with her ginormous badonkadonk.
Look deeper into the video, and you'll see what is really happening. Using colorful, sexually charged imagery, Nicki is luring viewers in to ultimately reveal the real truth, which is that the song and video are both extremely feminist in every way.
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