If pop music is a part of growing up, then our kids are getting old quick.
It sounds cliché, until you really start to listen. These days if the lyrics aren’t edgy, chances are the song isn’t popular.
Take number four on the Top 40 chart this week, the catchy “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People. The song isn’t about a pair of fancy sneakers, it’s about a boy with a gun. As the lyrics say “he’s coming for you, yeah he’s coming for you,” and “you’d better run, better run, farther than my bullet.”
And Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night” with the lyrics, ”We went streaking in the park, skinny dipping in the dark, then had a ménage a trios.” These are words you probably don’t want your kids reciting, especially the part about the drunken ménage a trios.
“There are a couple, two, maybe three big hits of the last year or so that have f-bombs in the name, and that wouldn’t have happened five years ago,” says Don Kelley, the long-time Program Director at Magic 106.7.
Kelley says artists have been pushing the envelope since pop music became popular and the line just keeps moving further and further.
“In the 60’s, "Brown Eyed Girl" came out by Van Morrison and there was a line that was considered too dirty for the time to be played on the radio, ‘…making love in the green grass behind the stadium,’” Kelley says.
Magic markets itself as a family radio station and the Magic lyric guarantee is a promise not to play racy lyrics.
“When moms write us letters and emails, it’s all about ‘I wasn’t ready to explain that to my child yet, and you put me in the position and she said Mommy, what does that mean?” says Candy O’Terry, the Assistant Program Director at Magic.
The radio is one source of music, the computer is another. In most cases, songs play as is on sites like Pandora, iTunes, and YouTube. Parenting experts say the computer is where parents should be most vigilant, especially when it comes to explicit lyrics. If a song is not age-appropriate, take the time to try to explain why.
“If it doesn’t match your values, you need to talk to your kids about why it doesn’t match your values, but you also need to know just because a teen or middle school student is listening to a risqué lyric or violent lyrics, it doesn’t mean they are going to be violent themselves,” says Candelaria Silva-Collins of Parent411.com.
If you are not sure of a song’s lyrics, do a quick Google search. Remember, just because a song is popular, that doesn’t mean it’s always appropriate for kids.