America’s Top 5 Songs – Better Find Out What Your Kids are Listening To

I caught about 5 minutes of the last MTV music awards and had to turn it off. I decided I was officially old and out of touch with our teens. So I asked our youth minister what radio station reflected the songs teens today are listening to and I listened to it periodically for the last two months. It was eye opening. Have a look at the lyrics of the top five songs in America as of last week. I have heard all of these songs. They are played repeatedly on the radio and are listened to and requested by millions.

1 – Perfect by Pink

  • The song is about being accepted even though we make mistakes
  • That hits right at the core of youth culture today and their desire to be real and authentic, even if real is very, very messed up
  • There is an alternative version called “F***ing Perfect”

2 – Born this Way by Lady Gaga

  • First line – “It doesn’t matter if you love him or H-I-M”
    • H-I-M stands for “His infernal majesty” and can refer to Satan (see comments below)
  • The message of this song is there is nothing wrong with sin or evil. In fact, because you were born the way you are (gay, straight, or whatever) it is actually the “right track” for your life.
  • This is another song about acceptance

3 – Forget You (FU) by Cee-Lo Green

  • This is a song about rejection and the reaction of a guy who sees his ex-girlfriend with another guy
  • Some profanity, notice the (FU) in the title. That is the basic message that this song is implying toward his ex and her new boyfriend.

4 – Tonight by Enrique Iglesias

  • A song about seeing a woman on the dance floor and wanting to have sex with her. Has some explicit lyrics and profanity

5 – S & M by Rihanna

  • The title says it all.

Here is the point – I am only 32 and I had no idea all this was out there, much less that this would be the content of the five most popular songs in America. I had no idea that is what teens, even those in the church, are listening to and filling their minds with. Read the lyrics to #2 or 5 and tell me that is not disturbing. Last, this is informing the views of our young people as we compete for their attention and it is flat out evil. It is setting the norms and is one more thing that helps determine their values as they listen to these things over and over again. I know this is nothing new but we should be aware of it.

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

21 Responses to America’s Top 5 Songs – Better Find Out What Your Kids are Listening To

  1. guy says:

    Matt,

    Do you have a reference or citation for the Lady Gaga song about the HIM acronym? i know the song is clearly pro-homosexual, but the HIM reference frankly just sounds like the old rock and roll conspiracy theories of the 70’s and 80’s that were just crazy (KISS = knights in Satan’s service).

    –guy

    • Hey I think what Matt is getting at is that it’s more pervasive than it was in the 70s/80s when we were growing up. Sure, that kind of stuff has always been around, but perhaps it’s more prominent than it was before. Still a good thing to be aware of, regardless, and be able to talk to your kids about it. It is hard to do as you get older since you grow less interested in the mainstream…

      Thanks for the post, Matt.

    • mattdabbs says:

      http://www.ladygaga.com/forum/default.aspx?cid=454&tid=474037

      They are saying it is a reference to His Infernal Majest (H-I-M) which they say was a satanist band in the 90s. Their wikipedia article says they were not satanists – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HIM_%28Finnish_band%29

      Another point that is made in that discussion is this is what someone says was Lady Gaga’s own explanation of this (which I have not been able to find a source on),

      “She said “H-I-M” is someone you look up to, your higher self. For example, your H-I-M could be Lady Gaga, if you look up to her. It could be any type of God-like figure that inspires you in life. It could be Jesus, Alah, etc, but she is saying it doesn’t matter what you believe in, we are all equal, we all love and look up to different people and things, it doesn’t have to be just a human (him) that we can love. We can love other people that influence us and it doesn’t matter. We shouldn’t judge people on it. ”
      – Becky Judas

      Either way we would all agree that this is not good and far from conspiracy theory or wacky theories but is being defined (supposedly) by the artist herself that it really doesn’t matter what you believe, just really believe it and leave everyone else alone. That is pretty much general consensus in society today. It is not really that surprising any more.

      • Kimberlee Wilson says:

        Well said Matt. Thank you.🙂

      • guy says:

        Matt,

        If that’s really what she (Lady GaGa) says it means, then i stand corrected.

        All i mean is this: The song obviously has anti-Christian sentiment before and without us discovering what “HIM” stands for or means. (Kiss already had sexually overt material before and without anyone coming up with “knights in Satan’s service.”) That being the case, if it turns out that such trinkets are completely fabricated, we start to sound like the paranoid people who call in to Coast-to-Coast-AM rather than reasonable people; i think we can run the risk of reinforcing Landmark-Baptist-Church style stereotypes about who we are and how we evaluate things. i’d just want to make very, very certain the artist themselves said such things before i used those things as evidence against the art.

        –guy

    • mattdabbs says:

      Are you sure you aren’t formulating conspiracy theories about people having conspiracy theories?

      You make a great point. We do have to be careful otherwise we reinforce people’s perceptions that Christians are crazy. My only point in all of this was that this is not about some isolated song or a bunch of songs sitting at #100 on the charts. These are the most popular songs in America today. That speaks volumes no matter how you fine tune it all.

  2. emily says:

    this makes my stomach turn!!! forget wolves in sheep’s clothing! sounds like these wolves are PROUD to be wolves.

  3. Will says:

    I TOTALLY AGREE! Musical art doesn’t have to be nasty. I Write Songs to please God!

  4. guy says:

    Matt,

    Fair enough. i knew about a couple of these songs (particularly the Lady GaGa) because i still spend quite a bit of time with adolescents (i teach guitar for a living), and because my wife still listens to mainstream radio. (i, however, officially feel old, because as of this year, about 90% of what i like is now played solely on stations that call themselves “classic rock”.)

    Anyway, should we be particularly shocked? i mean, obviously in a sense we should be–we want our sensibilities trained to see things the way God sees them. i just mean, should i have expected to find out something different about the current state of secular pop art than that it is thoroughly worldly? It’s more or less the same as when we were kids, no? We managed to survive those years. i definitely listened to some things back then that i probably wouldn’t listen to now.

    –guy

  5. As a mother of teenagers and a person who remembers the 70s and 80s, I say yes, we should be shocked. Not that the music exists so much as that so many of our kids…GOOD kids…are listening to it.

    When I was young I didn’t listen to anything my parents didn’t buy for me or otherwise sanction. Of course, I had more access to explicit stuff as a teen, but I still didn’t have the kind of access kids have today. I either had to get a parent to by the record or let me hear it on the radio.

    Today, so many kids have their own laptops, iPhones, etc., that allow them free access to whatever they choose without having to even interact with parents about what they are listening to. Imagine a 15 year-old who has gone to bed with his ear buds in as he listens to Lady Gaga as he sleeps.

    It is still very possible to monitor what our own kids are doing. My teens, for instance, do not have internet access on their phones. And they can only login to iTunes through my account thanks to Safe Eyes (our filtering and monitoring software). When their friends come over all electronics with internet access stay in the den.

    Lest it seem I am over-reacting, let me say that I have seen the playlists on the laptops of some of their friends. I don’t think I have ever seen the word “explicit” so many times in one place.

    My boys do not live in a bubble. They daily interact with the world and we teach them to make wise decisions. Will they always do so? No? Will they do so less often? So far yes. And while it is true the explicit music has been with us since the 70s and few of us actually modeled our lives after it, it is also true that it is the responsibility of adults who interact with teens to help teens make good decisions about music. We cannot do that if we don’t know the songs kids listen to or treat it with a teens-will-be-teens mentality.

    Thanks, Matt, for your illuminating post!

  6. Oops! This line in my comment above:

    “Will they do so less often? So far yes”

    should read:

    “Will they do so MORE often? So far, yes.”

  7. Ed Benesh says:

    Great work Matt. The same type of closer look needs to be given to our movies, television and other forms of media that inundate our children’s lives every day. Excellent. We should be shocked, but when evil men wax worse and worse for so long we tend to grow comfortable with their ideology and eventually dismiss it as either benign or simply tolerate it to the detriment of our children or others who are affected by it. Great work.

  8. K. Rex Butts says:

    When I was a 12 year old child, the Sunday school teacher played us a video of Rubel Shelly talking about the hedonistic music of rock-n-roll. I remember him clearly condemning the band KISS. But his comments had an adverse effect on me and the very next cassettes I bought (yes, back in the day we still actually bought music rather than downloading it) was the KISS “Destroyer” and “Animalize” records.

    Grace and Peace,

    Rex

  9. guy says:

    Rex touches on something that rings true with me. i think this is simply one of those areas of parenting where “one-size-fits-all” just isn’t true of children. And alarmism and heavy-regulation can very easily backfire in a lot of ways.

    On a related note, how is this, in principle, any different that people in the CoC who rail against “new songs” because of their musical style or lyrical style? Ardent defenders of older songbooks often think that the newer hymns or turning CCM into hymns will lead to wantonness and bad attitudes or fleshly-desire-rousing. How is their argument bad if this one is good?

    –guy

  10. It is true that alarmism and heavy-regulation can backfire. Anything can with children. One must know their own children well and do what works best with them. Even then there are no guarantees.

    I do not demand that the same regulations we have at home apply in the homes my teens visit. That would be alarmism. I do teach my children at home healthy and godly boundaries and expectations. They know how to choose what to listen to and watch and play in other homes. They frequently come home telling me what they asked a friend not to play. They are capable of making wise choices because I have protected them where necessary and prepared them for living in the world. Interestingly, their friends respect their choices and continue to invite them over.

    Do I believe every choice my children make will be wise? No. It is true that listening to some explicit music will not likely destroy them. Not receiving, however, a clear message from their parents will leave them swaying in the wind of whatever comes their way.

    I daresay loosing music about explicit sex, unhealthy and even violent relationships, and idolizing evil on my kids is not the antidote to alarmism. Teaching godly values and empowering godly choices just might be.

    Rex, I’m glad you survived your foray into KISS! For my part, I survived my pre-teen love affair with Sean Cassidy. Da doo run run.

  11. K. Rex Butts says:

    I mentioned my history of buying the KISS records just for some comic relief.

    On a serious note though, I would agree that having an alarmist or one-size-fits-all approach will probably not work. My parents were wise enough to know when to say “no” and when to let me decide. For instance, even though my parents could not stand the band KISS they did not object to that but my parents would not allow any of the premium movie channels on our cable because of the adult content that is aired after 10 pm. My parents knew that for the well-being development of my brother and I, this was a decision they had to make and their decision was a decisive “no” (for which I am now thankful for).

    I also think that parents of multiple children learn quickly that a wise decision made for one child will not necessarily be a wise decision for the other children. Thus as parents, we need to be in constant prayer about this but also in constant conversation with our Christian community. It takes a village to raise a child, say the old axiom. Well, it takes a Christian community to raise a child in a Christian manner. What are other Christian parents doing? How are they handling the same issues. What effects did that have on their children. What advise do they have? What advise do those who have already raised their children (and especially the elders and their wives) have? These are all questions that we need the Christian community to be dialoging on (as we are doing here) and praying about so that all parents can make the most healthy decision.

    Grace and Peace,

    Rex

    P.S., I’ll take KISS any day over David Cassidy. Rock-n-Roll All Night!

    • Touche! Never said I was proud of my Cassidy days!!

      And well said regarding Christian community. We certainly have a village of families with very similar values. I know what they allow when my kids go to their homes. But my kids have lots of friends who are not believers, or are only nominally so.

      As to the dialog, amen to that as well! I enjoy a good conversation by intelligent people about important things. Thanks to Matt and everyone else for supplying that today!!

      Meanwhile, I continue to listen to my old ABBA music (at least their music that is not about sex).

      • K. Rex Butts says:

        pas de touché

        I had to look up those words to see what they meant🙂 And as for ABBA…I actually like their music as an occasional blurb from bands like Van Halen, ACDC, etc… I’m not really a KISS fan much any more but that is another story.

  12. mattdabbs says:

    If parents live undisciplined and unChristian lives and they come in and demand their kids not do the things they are doing that won’t work. If the only thing they tell them is that it is wrong, that won’t work. But if kids/teens see consistency and a real faith in their parents they are more likely to listen to them. If they understand what is right and why and what is wrong and why that is more helpful than a list of don’t dos. We have to use common sense here, like many of you are mentioning.

  13. Bob Bliss says:

    Matt, here’s a link to Weird Al Yankovic’s blog and a You Tube video (audio only but with words displayed) of a parody he was planning for Lady Gaga’s song, Born this Way. His song is entitled I Perform This Way. She said no and you can read Al’s explanation of the situation. I think his lyrics are hilarious! Too bad she takes herself too seriously to let Al parody her.

    http://alyankovic.wordpress.com/the-gaga-saga/

  14. Bob Bliss says:

    Matt, just found out Lady Gaga has approved. Weird Al will have a new album out soon with his parody of her on it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: