on music: the good and the very, very bad...

As pop culture is subjective to taste and personal preference, I don't comment on it too often.  Sure, I love Bon Jovi, Billy Joel and Adele but you may not and we can still be friends, right? (well, maybe...) But, I'm feeling compelled to say something now. 

For years, though I had a relatively short commute to work, I listened to audio books in the car rather than the radio.  I wasn't a big fan of the endless corny commercials and they were all that seemed to play for the 15 minute ride to and from work each day.  Audio books were a great solution and our library was well stocked with interesting titles.  I find that audio books require a certain amount of attention, however.  Now that my commutes are significantly longer (35+ min to Bronx and 90+ min to Brooklyn) and fraught with whizzing cabs, barreling box trucks and crazy commuters, my whole attention needs to be on the task at hand - defensive driving. 

So, I'm back to listening to the radio.

The thing about popular radio is that they play the same Top 25 or so songs, over and over all day long. Having an affinity for memorizing music easily I know most pop songs on the radio now by heart. There are some good ones, in my opinion, such as:
  • Pink - "Perfect"...on your worst day, the hope is that everyone has someone in their life to tell them that they are perfect, no matter what
  • The Script - "For the First Time"...such a beautiful commentary on life right now.  Times are hard but cling to the ones you love to see you through *sigh*
  • Plain White Tees - "Rhythm of Love"...peppy, happy, lovey-dovey sweetness
And then there are the bad ones:
  • Ke$ha- "Your Love is My Drug"- where she compares herself to a 'lovesick crackhead.'  Um, okay? She just has this whiny, nasally, awful voice that always makes me wonder who on earth thought it was a good idea to give her a contract. And the dollar sign?  Really?
  • Mumford and Sons - "The Cave"...any song that includes lyrics such as 'tie me to a post' or 'noose around your neck' is not my cup of tea.  These guys are just trying way to hard to set themselves apart and the result? Not good
  • Katy Perry - "E.T."...good concept for a movie, just ridiculous as a song
The, the worst of the worst (this is where I stand up on my soap box):
  • Rihanna- "S&M"...sexually graphic, blatant and, frankly, disgusting lyrics that I won't type out here.  Feel free to Google them yourself if you haven't heard the song yet. But, I warned you...
As a single adult, I might not have thought twice about this last song.  Being a parent gives a completely different perspective. This one song makes me truly concerned about raising a child in our society.  What are we saying to our children when the most popular, mainstream radio station in the New York metro area is playing this trash hourly for any child to tune in?  I am no prude but, this?  Over the top.

While, yes, I do believe it is a parent's responsibility to filter media for children, how much can we shelter them?  Remember when Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)" came out and shortly thereafter a number of YouTube videos of little girls imitating the dance popped up, causing all sorts of commentary?  Can you imagine the storm that this will bring if the same happens?  Can't. even, go. there. 

Children are going to hear this song, catch the beat and start memorizing and singing back the words.  They will be asking you, "Mommy, why does she want to be gagged?"  OMG. 

How would you explain that one? 

Why should you have any need to explain (or artfully dodge) that question?

How do you plan on dealing with these issues that come up in a society that is getting more and more permissive and accepting of making the taboo part of the mainstream, accessible to our youngest and most vulnerable?  Discuss...


Jennifer said...

I think the same thing about that rihanna song. Yea the beat is catchy which is worse! I told my husband don't freak out when your two daughters come up here and are singing that song. One wouldn't in front of him, but the younger just doesn't see anything wrong and will sing it. Last summer they were reciting word for word all the Kesha lyrics!

Then I also think back to when I was a kid and some songs I liked. Talk Dirty to Me was out by Poison, Madonna's lyrics to almost any songs (yes even her younger days...kids saying like a virgin is a little weird) In a way, things aren't very different except NOW no one gets banned from MTV (Gaga & Rihanna) the way Madonna was CONSTANTLY banned for her videos yet theirs aren't much better.

Derby_Newbie said...

I totally agree with your commentary on those songs. One day last week I heard "S&M" on the way to work (at a daycare) and it was stuck in my head. That is not a song you want to be humming when you go into work with kids!

Now if it comes on during my commute (also 35 minutes) I switch stations. We have a newer 90s station that plays better music but I like the hosts of the top 40 station's morning show!

Aurie said...

And this is why we listen to Thomas and Elmo cds in the car!! Yes, it drives me nuts at times, but I don't want to answer those questions until I have to.

I never thought I would be one to shield my children from the media, but I do. No Tv (only videos) when the girls are up and only rarely the radio. Most often it's cds.

Kristi said...

I think it is awful and a huge part of the problem with American Society. I can't stand that junk, it gives very bad messages to our kids. Most parents where I teach (inner city) do not sensor anything their kids see or hear, it is very disturbing the impressions they have these days!

Erin said...

Totally agree about S&M! I heard that song and the FIRST thing I thought was, whoaaa I do NOT want my daughter listening to this or liking this song, ever! I don't really have any firm plans, but like someone else mentioned, it's certainly not the first time that music has had some shady messages. I guess I'll probably just explain that it's just a song and that the things she says aren't serious..... or something like that. Or just never put on the pop station when she's in the car, ever again. Same with Ke$ha and Lady Gaga, who I will admit to liking and singing along to. I just can't deny my love for crappy music, I guess. Started with NKOTB, and continues to this day.

Lynn said...

Graphic lyrics have always been a part of the rock n roll genre, and with lax morals and ethics the lyrics have gotten worse.

my dad would NOT let us play rock'n roll on the hifi stereo (dating myself here in the '60's) said it ruined the needle. lmao......it worked.

Kelly R said...

Hi there! Just stopping by from The Moments. Great blog and discussion. Come visit my blog at ksimonedesigns.blogspot.com

Mrs E said...

really interesting post...
I do often think about things and wonder "why aren't people raising a fuss over this" knowing all the other silly things people cause a ruckus over -- and this is something that kids can easily be subjected to!

nfaband said...

Having raised my daughter (she's about to turn 22) I can only say that as a parent we do our best to give them a good moral upbringing. You can only shelter them so far and for so long, once they hit middle school and are riding the school bus the end of that sheltering has come. They will hear the music eventually, and I can only hope they will do their best at filtering it based on the way they've been raised. Certain types of music were not allowed in my house and I did not allow my daughter to listen at home either. She's grown up well, she's not perfect, but she's good and has morals and values I'm proud of. I'd say it all falls on the parenting Jen, and I absolutely know that you and your husband will do a great job on that end.

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