Depreciating Morality in the Top Music

Posted on: 08/14/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Popular music always has provided a few vile examples that made grandmother gasp…

But never like today.

We’ve come a long way from “Like a Virgin” being shocking. In fact we’ve come a long way from, “I Kissed a Girl.” Sure we’ve seen some raunchy lyrics from top artists before… but never so potent at the top of the charts.

So far this month the Billboard Hot 100 has only one song that is not explicit in the top 10. And those that are… really push the envelope.

Drake’s song, In My Feelings, currently at No. 1, is probably one of the cleaner songs in the charts… that is… if you ignore the sampling of Lil Wayne & Magnolia Shorty near the end of the song with the lyrics:

Bring that a*s, bring that a*s, bring that a*s back!
B-bring that a*s, bring that a*s, bring that a*s back!
Shawty say the nigga that she with can’t hit
But shawty, I’ma hit it, hit it like I can’t miss
Now let me see you
Clap that a*s, you’re the only one I love
Clap that a*s, clap-clap that a*s!

This sampling (hip hop songs often “sample” or “mix” in earlier songs) is from Lollipop, Lil Wayne’s 2008 hit about oral sex.

Does it seem incongruous that I’m citing a current song which is sampling a 10-year-old song to prove my point that music is getting worse? Yeah… it was pretty bad in 2008 too… but three big differences:

  1. The top of the charts weren’t quite as potent with descriptions of sexual acts or the casual references to gunning others down  (close, but not quite)
  2. In 2008 teens didn’t have smartphones in their pockets (the iPhone only came out in 2007), they didn’t stream… Spotify wasn’t even a thing. Explicit music had a few more guardrails than now. (Now 97% of U.S. teens have access to a smartphone.)
  3. For the same reason I just mentioned, kids listened to less music in 2008 than now. In fact, America just upped their music listening by 47 minutes a day last year alone! (And adults just upped their daily media usage by 36 minutes in the last six months!)

So now when today’s top hits are more sexually charged… more kids hear it.

Cardi B’s song I Like it Like That, currently at No. 2 on the charts is actually pretty clean for Cardi B. Of course, you wouldn’t know it because much of it is in Spanish. But for those who speak Spanish, they’ll hear:

I like puerto rican girls, I like cuban girls
I like the columbian accent
How dominican girls move their a**es
How good venezuelan girls f**k…

As if that wasn’t explicit enough, the current No. 3 song on the charts is from a guy named 6ix9ine who joined with Nicki Minaj for a song called Fefe, which apparently is a prison term for something manmade (often made from a toilet paper roll) that provides sexual fulfillment. In this song the young rapper makes it clear what he thinks of women, how he treats women, questioning why he even “hit that” (had sex with her) and giving us waaaaaaaaay more description than we want (Where’s the #MeToo movement when you need it? Oh… I guess lyrics get a pass.)

Here’s the opening lyrics from 6ix9ine:

P**sy got that wet, wet, got that drip, drip
Got that super soaker, hit that, she a Fefe
Her name Keke, she eat my d**k like it’s free, free
I don’t even know like “Why I did that?”
I don’t even know like “Why I hit that?”
All I know is that I just can’t wife that
Talk to her nice so she won’t fight back
Turn around and hit it from the back, back, back
Bend her down then I make it clap, clap, clap

Nice.

And we haven’t even left the top 3 songs. I’ll let you Google the lyrics for the rest of the top 10. It’s more of the same. (Funny… one year ago I wrote a post with the latest research on “do the lyrics really affect me?”… and I made the comment, “I’ve never seen the charts this bad.”)

Remember the good ol’ days when Katy Perry just told our kids to “go all the way tonight”?

Do you know what your kids are listening to?

Are you engaging them in meaningful discussion about what they hear?

Over 4 hours a day

Posted on: 12/19/17 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

America loves their music… which is probably why the average person over 13-years-old now listens to over 4 hours of music per day. That’s an average of 47 minutes a day more than they did last year alone.

The question is… what kind of music?

Every December we wrap up the year with one final Youth Culture Window article unveiling every No. 1 song of the year. This year there were 12 songs that hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100… and half of them were rap/hip-hop.

Any guess as to what the common theme was this year?

Take a peek in our newest Youth Culture Window article, The Biggest Hits of 2017.

Does Sexy Music Really Affect Me?

Posted on: 08/30/17 1:30 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I guess it’s a good time to ask this question when the No. 1 song on the charts articulates, “I want to show my mouth your favorite places, let me trespass your danger zones until I make you scream.”

Whenever I speak to parents I tend to provide them with a glimpse into the world of youth culture: the apps young people frequent (on their smartphones at an average of 2 hours and 38 minutes a day), the games they’re playing (teen boys play an average of 56 minutes per day), and the music they’re soaking in (at an average of 1 hour and 54 minutes per day) (Media Use by Tweens and Teens, page 19 and 31). Sometime I even play YouTube videos or paste lyrics of the top dozen songs right on the screen for parents to see firsthand. The reaction is always the same:

“I didn’t know it was this bad!”

Well, I’ve been doing this two decades now… and I’ve never seen the top 12 songs this bad Continue reading “Does Sexy Music Really Affect Me?” »

Teen Summer Bucket List Goes Viral

Posted on: 07/25/17 7:21 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Go to a party
Have sex
Give two blow jobs
8 hoe pics for Instagram
Hook up with Jacob again
Get a boob hickey…

These are just some of the items on a young person’s “bucket list” gone viral on Twitter.

Does this surprise me?

The timing is intriguing. Just last week I had a 3+ hour drive to the airport on my way back from teaching youth workers at a convention in Indiana. I took the opportunity to listen to the current Billboard Hot 100 to get a glimpse into the top music today… and apparently teen thinking today Continue reading “Teen Summer Bucket List Goes Viral” »

Sex in the Top 10

Posted on: 07/18/17 6:32 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m always amazed how shocked parents are when I simply take them on a tour of the top 10 songs in the charts at any given time.

Many of you have heard me take parents on this tour (here’s me doing it in Amish PA). In a world where young people average 2 hours a day listening to music, it’s always wise to hear what messages they’re gleaning through their headphones. Today… that message happens to be pretty sexually charged.

David and I just did a quick review of the top 10 in this week’s YOUTH CULTURE WINDOW article. Take a peek at what our kids are hearing this summer and several free resources we provide to engage kids in meaningful conversation about these songs.

SEXY SONGS OF THE SUMMER

A Peek Inside the Top Music of 2016

Posted on: 12/20/16 4:00 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Billboard-2016-NO-1Every year-end we write a special Youth Culture Window article dissecting every Billboard No. 1 hit song of the year.

This year there were eleven No. 1’s filled with break ups and hook ups, drugs and alcohol, sung by musical legends and unknown newbies. 2016’s most popular songs were marked by tremendous diversity in theme, genre, and artists.

But when the music ended, what did our kids really hear?

Take a peek at our breakdown. We share lyrical excerpts, some links to online videos, and a brief discussion of the song’s meaning to help you understand what elements were imparted to teenagers through the music.

Here it is!

The No. 1 Songs of 2016
What Impact Did They Make on Young Listeners?