When it came out in the 80's it was a sexy wild tune with lyrics to match. While America was going from the age of disco to the age of stockbrokers and the Reagan Recession, music marched ahead and got dirtier and funkier than ever before. Superfreak was one of the signature songs of the era, an era that led into the rap and hip hop revolution that has, in many ways, destroyed music.
I recently picked up Superfreak off iTunes, since it's good writing music, a familiar tune that's energizing but can be ignored in the background while you work. At one point, suffering from a nasty block, I stopped to contemplate the lyrics.
They're so very dated they're laughable.
The "very kinky girl" is guilty of the sorts of "kinky" behaviors we now associate with middle-aged housefraus. Not only is she the kind of girl you read about in "New Wave Magazines" (A movement that long since got swallowed into the mainstream) but her main sexual sin is to use incense wine and candles. Ooo, how FREAKY can you get? These days if you wanted to write a similar song she'd need to be wearing a black leather mask, holding a paddle, and attended to by like two obese midgets in diapers.
I don't know how to feel about this. On the one hand I think it's good that we're no longer so sexually repressed as a society that 'incense wine and candles' violate some sort of taboo (presumably for her not to be a superfreak she'd want to have stone cold sober sex in the dark while spraying Lysol above James' head as they thrashed about in ecstasy.) On the other hand I long for the days when that sort of song was considered 'dirty.' There's no doubt our society has coarsened considerably over the last 20+ years and it's not necessarily a good thing that sex is not only so public but so ubiquitous these days. There's something to be said for mystery and imagination, and we're just not saying it. The Superfreak and Rick James belong to a bygone era when one could make allusions and everyone would sort of get it, as opposed to now when you have to spell out every activity short of penetration in explicit detail.
I was only a child during that era, but I have to say I kind of miss it.