The Content Behind The Top Ten

I always find it intriguing to see what kids are currently listening to. Last weekend at the parent workshop I taught in Philly, I encouraged parents to jump onto iTunes any given day, see what the top songs were, watch snippets of the videos and Google the lyrics.

Let’s take a quick peek at a few of today’s top songs that kids are downloading.

#1 Song: Like a G6, by the Far East Movement.

Lyrics:

Poppin bottles in the ice, like a blizzard
When we drink we do it right gettin slizzard
Sippin sizzurp in my ride, like Three 6
Now I’m feelin so fly like a G6…

…Get them bottles poppin, we get that drip and that drop
Now give me 2 more bottles cuz you know it don’t stop
Hell Yeaa
Drink it up, drink-drink it up…

The message is clear. No need to go into more detail, I blogged all about it last week.

#2 Only Girl (in the World), by Rihanna

The video is #1, which really surprises me. It’s painfully boring– I really doubt it will remain #1 very long. It shows her dancing around… being Rihanna (or as the American Psychological Association would put it, “sexualized”).

The lyrics:

Want you to make me feel like I’m the only girl in the world
Like I’m the only one that you’ll ever love
Like I’m the only one who knows your heart
Only girl in the world…

Forget the video for a second. I find those lyrics very Interesting–a plea to be “the only one that you’ll ever love.” Those are pretty monogamous words from such a non-committal, ‘hookup’ society. What a good discussion point to start conversations with teenagers.

Oh… but just in case you think the song might be just about love. Don’t get your hopes up. Today’s music almost always has to include sex as well. The song goes on…

Take me for a ride
Oh baby, take me high
Let me make you first
Oh make it last all night
Take me for a ride
Oh baby, take me high
Let me make you first
Make it last all night

#3 Just a Dream, by Nelly

Okay, this has to be the cleanest thing I’ve ever heard out of Nelly (he doesn’t have an album without the EXPLICIT warning). It’s a pretty catchy song and kids love it. It was the only slow song they played at the dance I chaperoned two weekends ago.

Here’s some of the lyrics:

I was at the top and I was like I’m at the basement.
Number one spot and now she found her a replacement.
I swear now I can’t take it, knowing somebody’s got my baby.
And now you ain’t around, baby I can’t think.
Shoulda put it down. Shoulda got that ring.
Cuz I can still feel it in the air.
See her pretty face run my fingers through her hair.

My lover, my life. My shorty, my wife.
She left me, I’m tied.
Cuz I knew that it just ain’t right.

CHORUS
I was thinkin about her, thinkin about me.
Thinkin about us, what we gonna be?
Open my eyes, yeah; it was only just a dream.
So I travel back, down that road.
Who she come back? No one knows.
I realize, yeah, it was only just a dream.

Correct me if I’m wrong… but are we hearing another song talking about desiring “one love” from “one person.” It’s almost as if we were created with that desire. Hmmmmmm.

Some other songs of interest.

#6 Raise Your Glass, by Pink

Sigh. Another, “I’m Pink, I’m angry, so I’m drinking” song?

Lyrics:

So raise your glass if you are wrong,
In all the right ways,
All my underdogs,
We will never be never be anything but loud
And nitty gritty dirty little freaks
Won’t you come on and come on and raise your glass,
Just come on and come on and raise your glass

Slam slam, oh hot damn
What part of party don’t you understand,
Wish you’d just freak out (freak out already)
Can’t stop, coming in hot,
I should be locked up right on the spot
It’s so on right now (so f**kin on right now)

I quote Pepito from Doctor DoLittle 2. “So young. So angry. D*mn that rap music!”

#7 Bottoms Up, by Trey Songz, featuring Nicki Minaj

Here’s a screenshot from the video.

Any questions?

#8 Club Can’t Handle Me, by Flo Rida

Flo Rida, known for his mega hit, Low, the #1 song of the year in 2008, is back again. This time with more of the same. Good dance music that all the kids love, with lyrics that all the parents hate:

Still feelin myself I’m like outta control
Can’t stop now more shots lets go
Ten more rounds can I get a Kato
Paparazzi trying to make me pose
Came to party to I came no more
Celebrate coz that’s all I know
Tip the groupies takin off their clothes

Nice.

So what should we do as parents and youth workers?
1. Keep aware. Jump on iTunes like I just did right there and look to see what kids are listening to. Take a peek at the video, Google the lyrics. It’s good to know what music our kids are marinating in.

2. If you hear these songs, use them as a springboard for conversations with kids, just like the Apostle Paul did in Acts 17. I pointed out a few points of discussion above. Or, you can use our free MUSIC DISCUSSIONS at www.TheSource4YM.com … they provide small group questions, scripture, and everything you need. We’re also about to launch our parenting page that will have MUSIC DISCUSSIONS for parents to use as springboards for conversations with their kids.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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15 Responses to The Content Behind The Top Ten

  1. Adam McLane says:

    I kind of hope parents take the same approach with Christian music.

  2. Brandy says:

    Thank you for the insight!

  3. Ha… funny you say that Adam. I totally agree. I think that some songs are really worth dissecting– good and bad. On the good side- using Crowder’s “Everything Glorious” to talk to our young ladies about self esteem.

    You make everything glorious
    And I am Yours
    What does that make me?

    That’s powerful stuff!

  4. Oh snap!

    Someone just emailed me… I left the f-word in Pink’s lyrics. LOL. I usually try to put in some ** or something like that.

    I just changed it in the blog. But as for the thousand or so emails that went out last night to my blog subscribers… ooops! 🙂 Ha. At least it wasn’t in the snippet I sent out to the 15,000 EZINE subscribers this morning!!!

    Sorry about that.

    It’s crazy when I forget to actually save you guys from what our kids listen to every day! 🙂

  5. Tom Bilderback says:

    I agree, burying your head an pretending the voice of media isnt influencing youth is ignorant. Take the false promises and slavery disguised as freedom as an opportunity to unmask the reality of where these roads always end.

  6. Chad Feight says:

    This is one of the toughest things (for me) to do. Because of the raunchiness of a lot of the videos (and TV shows), it’s hard to stomach for long enough to really check them out. It has, however, been great to show some knowledge of pop culture, especially with those kids that come without a church background. Thanks for your insight.

  7. Jason says:

    Good stuff… as a youth pastor with a kid in middle school now, this is all becoming more than just part of the “job” for me.

  8. Jason says:

    Jonathan, thanks again for your insight.

    I too have a middle schooler along with being a youth pastor. The conversations about music with my own teen are different than the ones with the teens that I minister to. I have already asked him to erase a few songs that he downloaded from i-tunes. it opened up a good conversation about why it is important to protect ourselves from that type of music. But when I talk to teens I minister to, I can only suggest they remove those songs and hope that our conversation leads to change for them.

    Then the other side is that even if we get our teens to see why these songs are wrong to listen to, our schools don’t seem to care, or know the songs that well, and they play them at all of the dances.

  9. Tracey says:

    None of these song lyrics surprise me, it’s been going on a long time. So how do you have a meaningful conversation about this stuff? My child does not like these conversations and will respond with the usual, I am not doing that, its not so bad blah blah blah. I work for Student Min at my church, admin, so I see this all day long. My next approach will be to put this in visual terms, say, if I had a magazine on my coffee table with pictures and info on where and how to be involved in the actions described in the songs….would that be ok?

  10. Tracey… good questions. Our kids’ typical answers will be short and avoiding.

    Take a look at a Youth Culture Window article I wrote earlier this year, It’s called, “Dad Can I Download This Song?” I talk about the whole process and give some ways to discuss it. This article is just a snippet of a chapter in my upcoming parenting book coming out this spring. You’ll have to keep your eyes open for that.

    Heres the short article link: http://bit.ly/c8tkZ2 (paste that in your browser)

  11. Royce says:

    Thx for keeping this out there — was able to have a meaningful convo last week based on the G6 blog — thx!

  12. gretchen says:

    This is amazing! God has been telling me for some time now that I need to do up a study about the music my children and our youth group are listening to, and the impact it has on their lives and attitudes. It is no chance thing that I came across your website! God is Good!

  13. John says:

    Great Stuff as always. Thanks Jonathan!

  14. Great post Jonathan. As a counselor I often ask my clients (who are mostly teens and young adults) to bring their iPod to a session so we can listen to their music. Often I’ll print out the lyrics and read over them with them to see what resonates with them.

  15. Thanks for the comment Roy. That’s interesting. I never have heard of a counselor doing that. Very cool.