A growing number of teenage girls say that they are more likely to purchase CDs made by female artists who wait until marriage to have sex. The research findings are likely to increase pressure on struggling record labels to keep young starlets chaste—or quickly marry them off.
Teen star Lindsay Lohan denies taking a 'virginity vow'
HOLLYWOOD, CA—Teenage girls are notoriously capricious when it comes to their tastes in pop music. What's hot one day is not the next. But now some teen trend-watchers say that they've put their finger on the next big thing to come out of pop music: virgins.
According to Youth Observed! Inc., a firm of professional trend spotters based in Northbrook, IL, a growing number of teenage girls care less about the style of music being performed, or even the look of the female artist performing it, than they do about the values and morals of the artist. Chastity is in, says YO! analyst Samantha Triphorn. Dirty girls, sluts, and nymphos: decidedly out.
Teen music buyers say: 'wait to mate, please'
"In our polls and focus groups conducted with teen girls, we're hearing them say over and over again that the single biggest factor that motivates them to break out the debit card and buy that CD is whether the artist is 'chaste,'" says Triphorn. "The question for these girls is 'is the singer saving it for marriage?'"
When asked to break down their favorite performers, says Triphorn, artists that publicly took virginity vows—like Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears—then married young, routinely top the list. Down near the bottom: singers like Pink, Christina Aguilera and Lil Kim, who are believed to have given up their virginity to male partners with whom they were neither engaged nor intended to become engaged.
'C' is for chaste
Music industry observers say that the major record labels plan to begin acting on the research findings almost immediately. In an effort to win over the burgeoning demographic known as 'SRT's' or "Silver Ring Teens," a reference to teenagers who pledge to remain abstinent until marriage and now want their pop stars to do the same, three of the top labels plan to roll out a new sticker for CDs as early as this summer.
Unlike the parental advisory stickers that currently adorn everything from lewd hip hop recordings to foul-mouthed heavy metal, the new labels will bear a single letter: 'C,' for 'chaste,' meaning that the female artist behind the recording has either taken a virginity vow, is now married or has pledged to reclaim her virginity. "You look at the Billboard 'hot 100' for 2004 and at least three of the top performing females—Jessica, JoJo and Britney—took these virginity pledges," says an industry source. "That says something."
The industry is currently limiting the new 'C' stickers to its lineup of female performers.
Pressure to marry?
Britney Spears famously announced that she was saving herself for marriage back in 2000, but in recent years seemed to be wavering from that pledge. Now some sources close to the artist say that executives at Jive Records, where the chanteuse is based, may have pushed Ms. Spears into marrying—in order to boost her slumping record sales.
"You saw her popularity really beginning to slide as her young teen fans perceived that she was 'giving it up for free,'" says a source who has worked with the star. "The Jive executives have seen the writing on the wall: virginity sells. So they married her off as quickly as they could."
That gamble appears to have worked. Britney Spears is now Mrs. Kevin Federline, is expecting her first child and is the proud owner of her first grammy: for the dance recording 'Toxic.'
Never too late—to wait
Impressed by the popularity of artists such as Ms. Simpson—and by the resilience of the now-married Britney—a growing number of young female pop stars are said to be considering following in their footsteps. Ms. Aguilera is now engaged to be married, and according to sources close to the singer of 'Genie in a Bottle' and 'Beautiful,' is considering 'saving herself' for her upcoming nuptials.
And the rumor mill has been working overtime since teen hottie Lindsy Lohan appeared at the recent Young Hot Hollywood Style Awards sporting a new silver ring. A representative for Ms. Lohan denies that the young actress and singer has taken a virginity vow.
Russell D'Arby may be reached at [email protected].