“It’s Just A Song.”

You have heard the words before.  When questioning a teen about their musical preferences, they reply, “It’s just a song.”  They argue that they like the beat or the melody.  They say that the content of the lyrics does not really matter.

Well, a recent study shows that the content of the lyrics really does matter.  Teens who listen to songs with sexually explicit lyrics tend to be more actively involved sexually.  It may not mean that the music caused it, but it is definitely an indication that your teen may be sexually active.

Do you know what your kids are listening to?  Do you ever even think about it?  I used to tell my friends that I could tell you a person’s personality profile if I knew who their favorite bands were.  I still think this is fairly true.  Want to know more about your kids?  Find out what they listen to.

I find it amazing that many parents do not make an effort to find out what is being taught to their children through song lyrics.  Do you want your children gaining their understanding of politics, religion, and social issues from strangers who can sing and play an instrument?  That is exactly what they are doing.

What are your thoughts about how music influences us?  How should parents monitor what their children listen to?  Teens, how do you think parents should be involved in your music choices?

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11 Responses to “It’s Just A Song.”

  1. Davo says:

    It’s precisely studies like this that make it difficult for me to sit through the “worship” (music) part of Sunday mornings.

  2. Tim Farley says:

    Davo:

    I’m curious. What do you mean?

  3. Jeff says:

    If parents are interested in the lyrical content of their children’s favorite bands, it is pretty easy to find the words on the Internet. Sometimes, I’ll look up the lyrics of a band that I know my teen-age students listen to. When we discuss them, they are very surprised that an adult would even know of the band, much less be familair with the lyrics of their songs. (Of course, I really don’t know much about these bands except what I read on the student’s tee-shirts.) Sometimes they are even ashamed about the content of the songs.

    When I have teen-aged students in the car, and they want to listen to the radio, I play a game with them. I tell them they can choose any station they want and we’ll listen to that station until we hear objectionable lyrics and then they have to change the station. Sometimes we can get through two or three songs before changing to the next station.

    On a different note, I think it is interesting that your post focuses on the listening habits of teens. There is a lot of secular music that adults listen to that is not very uplifting. Perhaps we should be using the same criteria for everyone.

  4. Davo says:

    I would argue that music is a reflection of culture. At the very least, it is shaped by the values of that culture.

    (I’m making generalizations here. Remember that generalizations cannot be applied uniformly to every unit within the subset). Many popular worships songs seem to contain messages of consumerism, patriarchy, individualism and imperialism. If music reflects the values of a culture, then what is that saying about the Church’s culture?

    I just have trouble trying to worship, when the lyrics seem more in touch with cultural hierarchies than with things that Jesus talked about.

    I may have opened a whole new can of worms here that’s bigger than can be addressed in this forum. So I apologize if that’s the case. I also make no assumptions or judgments about your church and the way you do things.

  5. Tim Farley says:

    Davo:

    Thanks for clarifying. I think you are right that many songs that we pass off as “worship” music really promotes faulty theology. Many of the things that you mention (i.e. consumerism, materialism, individualism, etc.) are definitely present in popular Christian music. I would even argue that many of our old hymns are just as guilty of poor theology, even if they are guilty in other ways. Many of those display Platonic thinking as well as individualism and imperialism. I have taken the approach that we must evaluate each song on its own merits rather than say any one style or era of music is good or bad.

    Don’t feel like you have to apologize for your thoughts here. While I do not speak of my church specifically on this blog, there are definitely many things discussed here that would apply. We are definitely not perfect, as no church is, but I hope we are learning and growing as we go.

  6. fivepeasinapod says:

    I was saddened recently when I went to a young woman’s hen’s nights/batchelorette party. It was a group mostly made up of non-christian, early 20’s women. A jukebox was hired and by the end of the first couple of hours of listening to their music choices I was deeply troubled and saddened. I rarely to never listen to secular music anymore so have not been in touch with what’s popular. The lyrics of some of these songs are totally degrading in relation to sex. These girls knew all the words! Lyrics, sung by a male singer about how the girl has “all the power” and how he wants to get some (not that I can even begin to actually type the lyrics!) Where is love? The call to purity? The sacred, undefiled marriage bed is all but a “thing of the past”. It is certainly not something sought after anymore. The repercussions of this is frightening. It made me fear for my own daughter and alerted me to the difficult but essential task I have of teaching her a better, different way to live – God’s way!

  7. Tim Farley says:

    fivepeasinapod:

    Thank you for your thoughts. Unfortunately, what you describe is probably the norm rather than the exception for bachelor / bachelorette parties. I think your observations are valid when we think about our culture’s view of love and purity. The music we (our culture) listens to reflects our attitudes concerning these things. It should make those of us who are parents ask how we are going to address these issues with our own children.

  8. Robynne says:

    Occasionally, I listen to music that I listened to in junior high. I listen, and laugh. At the time, I felt so connected to the music. I thought that I knew what they were talking about, felt the same way, went through the same things. Turns out, I was being overdramatic and self-pitying. As I change as a person, the music I listen to changes, as well. Which side of the change is the driving force, I don’t know. It might be that as I changed, I listened to music that more adequately reflected my thoughts. It may be that as I started listening to different music, it changed my outlook. Whatever it is, I know there is some correlation.
    As far as parent interest and whatnot… I’m always hesitant to encourage it. I’ve grown up having very little input from my parents in what I do, and I think it was good for me. However, my situation has been incredibly different from a lot of peoples, so I don’t think I can necessarily make a suggestion. I know that for me, when my parents would show a desire for me to avoid something, I tended to gravitate towards it, and the thought of my parents watching what I listen to and trying to have their say in it would just frustrate me. But that’s me, and that’s my not-quite-right family dynamic. 🙂

  9. aaron says:

    SInce the number one topic in music is “Love” whay do so many people hate? By the logic I just read, everyone that listens to music should “love”.

    This is highly misleading. Let me go on a limb: This is not a scientific study, but I am willing to bet that 95%+ of people that regularly listen to contemporary Christian music, are…..Christian! Does this mean that those that listen to Cont. Christian muysic are more likely to become Christian, or simply, Christians listen to Christin music.

    tim and I grew-up listen to, and performing the exact same hard rock, yet I think it is safe to say that we are both law abiding, fmaily men that try to do no harm to poeple, despite the influance.

    Insurance companies have a study that shows red cars are more likely to ge a ticket. Could it be that the number one color for a high performance speed car is RED? This means red is not the issue.

    David Lee Roth said it best; “We are not this way because of rock & roll, we are in rock & roll because we are this way”

  10. aaron says:

    Also, the researcher stated this: ….. the findings don’t prove that the music caused kids to have sex, acknowledged Primack, who’s an assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

    “The opposite could be true — that people who have more sex then go out and seek music with degrading sexual messages,” he said

  11. Tim Farley says:

    Aaron:

    I think I said the same thing in paragraph two:

    “Well, a recent study shows that the content of the lyrics really does matter. Teens who listen to songs with sexually explicit lyrics tend to be more actively involved sexually. It may not mean that the music caused it, but it is definitely an indication that your teen may be sexually active.”

    My point was that if parents are aware of what their children are listening to, it may give them a better indication of what is going on in their kids’ lives.

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