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Katy Perry’s ‘Peacock’ and the Dying Art of the Double Entendre

Double entendres have a long and storied history in pop music. Just about anything sounds dirty with the right delivery, and so entendres have ranged from Kelis’s relatively vague “Milkshake” to the not as subtle “Big Ten Inch Record,” a fifties jam by Bull “Moose” Jackson (that has been covered by Aerosmith). And yet Katy Perry’s new single makes “Big Ten Inch Record” sound like a model of restrained, suggestive wordplay. The song is called “Peacock.” It is not about a bird. It goes: “Word on the street / You have something to show me / Come on baby let me see / What you’re hiding underneath / Are you brave enough to let me see your peacock? / I wanna see your peacock, cock, cock / Your peacock, cock, cock.” Do you see what she did there? She used a common word for penis and made it mean penis!

“Peacock” is perhaps the most egregious example of the entirely unsubtle double entendre, but it is not the only one. In the last few years, a handful of pop entendres have emerged that are less double and more single — which is to say, are just dirty words. Recent examples of the single entendre include:

Britney Spears’s “If U Seek Amy.” In this song, “If U Seek Amy” only has one meaning, “F-U-C-K me.” Otherwise the lyrics — “Love me hate me, say what you want about me / But all of the boys and all of the girls are begging to if you seek Amy” — make no sense.

Lady Gaga’s “LoveGame.” This song contains the lyrics “Let’s have some fun / this beat is sick / I want to take a ride on your disco stick.” Gaga, as usual, bests Perry by at least taking a not so common word for penis and making it mean penis, but, still, 50 Cent did this five years before Gaga with “Magic Stick.” “LoveGame” does make “Poker Face” seem very nuanced.

Flo Rida’s “Right Round,” (featuring Ke$ha). The 1985 song “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record),” which “Right Round” heavily samples, had the lyrics, “You spin me right round, baby / Right round like a record, baby,” which is barely suggestive at all. Flo Rida’s version goes “You spin my head right round, right round / When you go down, when you go down down,” because, apparently, “go down” was not suggestive enough on its own, and we all really needed to hear the word “head” right before it to know what Mr. Rida was talking about.

Katy Perry’s ‘Peacock’ and the Dying Art of the Double Entendre