Among the many and varied artists intercepted on radio broadcast frequencies, few project more subtlety than the Pussycat Dolls.
The dance ensemble’s soul searching lyrics often go unappreciated, considered by many to be burlesque machinations meant to entice pubescent males into buying records.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing. If you took a country in Asia and a country in the Americas, that distance still would not compare with the distance between the idea that the Pussycat Dolls are overtly sexual and the ideas that the Pussycat Dolls truly mean to represent.
This of course begs the questions: can you put an exact mileage on how far that distance is, and what do the Pussycat Dolls truly represent?
Responding to the first question we must respond with a negative response. No, there is no measurable distance. But it’s really far.
And secondly, there may not be a way to perfectly capture all of the intellectual reasoning of the Pussycat Dolls, so let us try examining just one aspect of the artists’ attempt to holding a mirror to society at the same time pushing the boundaries of society, as any good artist does.
And a better stopping point no song could be than their hit single, “Buttons.”
The chorus serves as a worthy culmination of the complexity of thought that lies in the lyric’s subtext. It is as follows:
“I’m telling you to loosen up my buttons babe/But you keep frontin’/ Saying what you gonna do to me/ But I ain’t seen nothin’.”
Now of course, the sexual overtones are there. But as any great art, there are undertones, and on careful examination, these undertones prove to be a powerful protest against former president George W. Bush’s foreign policy in Iraq, specifically the war that began in March 2003.
To understand this properly, one must understand that buttons themselves are objects of military bravado, that which keeps the uniform together, and the call to “loosen up my buttons babe” is no less a call to be rid of the militaristic garb that clothes our society.
This combined with “But you keep frontin’” makes it clear that the songwriters had in mind the constant rejoinder that the Bush administration would produce weapons of mass destruction, which to this day have never been found, or as the song succinctly says, “But I ain’t seen nothin’”
To make the reference unmistakeable, the style of the music itself is Middle Eastern, even Persian, so as to highlight the chaos and broken promises that the United States has perpetrated in the geographical area which once encompassed Babylon.
The song appeared in 2005, a time when the United States populace was just beginning to realize that the “Mission Accomplished” banner was put up far to quickly, and the song anticipated that the conflict would carry on for far longer than any neocon pundit could’ve anticipated.
“Baby can’t you see?” another portion of the song begins, “How these clothes are fittin’ on me?/ And the heat coming from this beat./ I’m about to blow. /I don’t think you know.”
Hence the song consistently imagines the negative response of America to the war in Iraq and even the violent resurgence that took place when Shiite holy places were bombed in August of 2006. It is a work that demands to be considered in light of films such as “The Hurt Locker” and books such as “Imperial Hubris” and songs such as “Oops, I Did It Again,” all testaments of the moral seriousness and duty of mainstream artists. One may consider such artists in our present debate of how and whether to engage Gaddafi in Libya.