Lennox attack on ‘overtly sexualised’ performances

POP icon Annie Lennox has launched an outspoken attack on the music industry for the “overtly sexualised” nature of many live performances and videos.
Performances like Miley Cyrus's at the MTV awards in August have angered singing icon Annie Lennox. Picture: APPerformances like Miley Cyrus's at the MTV awards in August have angered singing icon Annie Lennox. Picture: AP
Performances like Miley Cyrus's at the MTV awards in August have angered singing icon Annie Lennox. Picture: AP

The multi award-winning Scottish singer said she had been left “disturbed and dismayed” by a growing trend for “highly styled pornography with musical accompaniment”.

And she expressed concern that young female music fans were being bombarded by a “tidal wave of sexualised imagery”.

Hide Ad

The 58-year-old Eurythmics star – one of the leading feminist figures of the music industry in the 80s – also said she was depressed at how many performers were willing to behave like “pimp and prostitute at the same time”.

She said current market forces in the industry “don’t give a toss” about the notion of boundaries, adding: “As long as there’s booty to make money out of, it will be bought and sold.”

Lennox, who had a huge hit with the feminist anthem Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves in 1985 and made a significant impact on the music industry with her pop videos during that era, spoke out last year about how the word feminism had been “denigrated to a place of almost ridicule”.

Although Aberdeen-born Lennox – named Barclays Woman of the Year in 2010 – did not name any acts in her lengthy blog-posting, she has spoken out in the wake of a bitter row between Sinead O’Connor and Miley Cyrus.

The 46-year-old Irish singer penned an open letter to Cyrus after the 20-year-old cited O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U video as a major inspiration for her own explicit promo for her song Wrecking Bell, in which she is seen licking a sledgehammer and writhing naked while swinging on a demolition ball.

The former child star of Disney TV series Hannah Montana had hit the headlines after a controversial performance at the MTV Video Music Awards in August.

Hide Ad

O’Connor warned Cyrus last week that she would “obscure” her talent “by allowing yourself to be pimped, whether it’s the music business or yourself doing the pimping. You are worth more than your body or your sexual appeal.”

Cyrus hit back at the criticism on her Twitter page and appeared to mock O’Connor’s health problems.

Hide Ad

In her posting on her Facebook page, Lennox says: “I have to say that I’m disturbed and dismayed by the recent spate of overtly sexualised performances and videos. You know the ones I’m talking about.

“It seems obvious that certain record companies are peddling highly styled pornography with musical accompaniment.

“As if the tidal wave of sexualised imagery wasn’t already bombarding impressionable young girls enough.

“It’s depressing to see how these performers are so eager to push this new level of low.

“Their assumption seems to be that misogyny utilised and displayed through oneself is totally fine, as long as they are the one creating it.

“As if it’s all justified by how many millions of dollars and YouTube hits you get from behaving like pimp and prostitute at the same time. It’s a glorified and monetised form of self-harm.”

Hide Ad

Lennox harboured ambitions of going to art school when she was growing up in Aberdeen but instead went to London to study flute and classical music at the Royal Academy of Music.

She first enjoyed success as the singer with The Tourists. When the band split up she and long-time collaborator Dave Stewart formed the Eurythmics, and went on to notch up a string of chart-topping hits.

Hide Ad

Lennox, who has won eight Brit Awards – more than any other female artist – helped create a major exhibition of her life and career for the V&A in London. It subsequently went on tour to Aberdeen and, most recently, to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.