Call me nostalgic, but I remember the good ol’ days when music videos were creative visuals as the band performed one of their top hits. I think of the groundbreaking Owner of a Lonely Heart music video from Yes– bizarre and a little creepy, or the innovative music video for Aha’s Take On Me, where real life meets animation. (Besides, who doesn’t like those two 80’s classics?)
I know music videos weren’t always innocent back then, but fast forward 30 years, and take a peek what music videos literally fill the top of the charts. With only a few exceptions, the top 10 are dominated by explicit lyrics, overtly sexual images and vulgarity. All this just a click away for any kid with a smartphone in their pocket.
I encourage you to pop on iTunes and take a glimpse for yourself. iTunes provides a chart of the top songs and music videos at any given moment. This chart usually is fairly close to Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, released once a week. If you click on iTunes’ Music Videos chart, then you can see the top 1o music videos people are buying. Click on any of these videos and you can see a 30 second preview. If you don’t wanna pay the $1.99 but you wanna see more… do what kids do and pop on YouTube and see it for free.
This week 5 of the 10 top music videos on iTunes have explicit lyrics, but don’t let the “non-explict” videos catch you off guard. For example, Google the lyrics for Suit & Tie, or just click on Stay and take a peek at the visuals that junior high boys get to see when they click on that 30-second preview.
If you’re really brave, click on the music video for Love Me from Lil Wayne. Or if you’d like to spare yourself from those visuals, just Google the lyrics. Here’s a sample:
Pu**y-a** niggas stop hatin’
Lil’ Tunechi got that fire
And these hoes love me like Satan…
F**k with me and get bodied
And all she eat is d**k
I don’t think he’s going for a Kids’ Choice Award anytime soon.
The Scream and Shout music video isn’t much better. In this remix of the popular song, Britney refers to herself as a b*tch throughout the song, and Diddy, Little Wayne and Waka eventually come in spitting vulgarities left and right, talking about smoking, drinking and recreational sex.
Parents might ask themselves, “What are my kids clicking on?”
The bigger questions parents need to ask is, “Am I equipping them to make good media decisions when I’m not around?”
The truth of the matter is, our kids are going to be exposed to this kind of content in the real world (unless we keep them locked in a dungeon… which I don’t recommend, by the way). We need to have an ongoing conversation about media discernment. If you’re curious what this conversation can look like, I encourage you to check out one of my recent blog posts, “Dad, can I download Nicki Minaj?”
We might also consider setting some realistic guardrails to help keep them from veering off course.
Do you know what’s in your kid’s iPod?