This past weekend I had the opportunity to preach about youth culture, then do a parenting workshop in a church in South Bend, IN. On the drive to the workshop, I decided to tune into a popular radio station to hear a sampling of what our kids were hearing, wondering if I’d hear many of the “Hot 100” songs I’d been researching. After all, I know the top 10 songs kids were downloading. iTune shows us that at a glance. But I was curious what the radio was playing.
This particular radio station seemed like it was playing right from the “Top 10” charts, because in the hour that I had the radio on, I heard almost every song that I had been studying.
After about an hour of listening… I felt like I needed to take a shower and wash off the filth.
Seriously. I study this stuff all the time, and yet I still am amazed how potent today’s music is with oversexualized lyrics. (Is oversexualized even a word? Nope. I just pasted it into WORD and it gave me a little red wiggly line.)
Let me give you a glimpse at some of these top songs I heard.
The first song I heard was the joint venture from Beyonce and Lady Gaga, Telephone. The song itself isn’t necessarily profane. It just comes from the perspective of a girl in a club who is getting a call from a recent boyfriend. Gotta love the mentality– the lyrics give you a glimpse:
Just a second; it’s my favorite song they’re gonna play and I cannot text you with a drink in my hand, eh?
The crazy thing about this song is the video, which is still number one on iTunes today. The 30-second preview on iTunes says it all. You’ll be amazed. I won’t go into too much more detail, I’ve already devoted an entire blog article to this video.
I actually talked about this video and showed some screenshots when I preached on Sunday. A teenager attending who liked Lady Gaga commented, “You shouldn’t pick on Lady Gaga. She’s Catholic.”
In my parent seminar I couldn’t pass that comment up. After all, if I found out that the corner drug dealer was Baptist… does that make what he’s doing okay? Call him what you want. He’s selling our kids garbage.
The music industry is doing the same thing. And medical professionals are becoming very concerned with this kind of content. I devoted an entire Youth Culture Window article to this subject.
The second song I heard is the number one song on Billboard’s Hot 100, Rude Boy, by Rihanna, a song with the first line, “Come here rude boy, boy; can you get it up?”
It doesn’t get any better. Here’s a snippet:
Tonight I’ma let you be the captain
Tonight I’ma let you do your thing, yeah
Tonight I’ma let you be a rider
Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up babe
Tonight I’ma let it be fire
Tonight I’ma let you take me higher
Tonight, baby, we could get it on, yeah, we could get it on, yeah
Do you like it?
Boy, I want, want, want whatchu want, want, want
Give it to me, baby like boom, boom, boom
What I want, want, want is what you want, want, want
Yes, that’s the number one song on Billboard’s Hot 100 right now, #4 on iTunes.
You gotta love what many of these songs are doing today. They are slippin under the radar and being deemed “clean” by the world’s standards (I addressed that fact in more detail in this blog about the Black Eyed Peas), when the lyrics are anything but clean. Yes, Rude Boy doesn’t have cuss words. So it’s clean, right? Let’s be honest. The whole song is about hooking up. But, hey… as long as they don’t cuss, right?
The next song I heard was Bed Rock by a whole mess of young rappers including Lil Wayne, Drake, and a bunch of other thugs. I don’t need to say much about a song with the chorus, “Baby, my room is the G spot, call me Mr. Flintstone, I can make your bed rock.” Then they repeat that four more times, “I can make your bed rock.”
The song also features young female rapper, Nicki Minaj, with this opening line:
Okay, I get it, let me think, I guess it’s my turn
Maybe it’s time to put this p***y on your sideburns
In the “clean” version (as they call it) and the edited video, the crass word for her genitalia is edited, you just see her grab her crotch as she mouths it.
Nice to have yet another good role model for our young women, don’t you agree?
The next song I heard was Usher’s new song OMG, the same one he performed on American Idol two weeks ago. Is it just me, or is American Idol allowing racier stuff recently? It used to be a little bit safer for family viewing, but the last couple years have seemed to digress in terms of the ‘role models’ that perform and coach on the show. Yes, these “artists” are talented. But are they role models? Does America even know the difference?
Usher’s song OMG is a joke. Let me be clear. Usher is incredibly talented and some of his songs are really good artistically (although very often bankrupt morally- more on that here). But this song is really weak. The lyrics sound like a teenager verbalizing his first visit to a night club. A snippet:
i fell in love with shawty when i seen her on the dance floor
she was dancing sexy, pop, pop, popping, dropping, dropping low
never ever has a lady hit me on the first sight
this was something special ; this was just like dynamite
honey got a booty like pow, pow, pow
honey got some boobies like wow, oh wow
Need I say more?
Let’s just say that my drive was pretty depressing. As other songs played (Kesha talking about guys wanting to “touch her junk”), I realized how hard it must be for our young people who listen to this stuff all the time.
It doesn’t require studies like these (students listening to a lot of music with sexual messages were almost twice as likely to start having intercourse within the following two years…) to tell you what effect listening to this content regularly would have on teenagers.
So what can we do?
That’s what I spent two hours talking about on Sunday at my parenting workshop. It’s a balance of rules and a relationship. Yes, rules are necessary. It’s okay to say, “This doesn’t belong on your iPod.” But rules without a relationship lead to rebellion. For many parents, building a relationship with their kids is where this begins.
Have ongoing conversations about music and media with your teenagers. Don’t let the world set the standard for you!
Wow! What a weekend.