Paying Attention

This week, as I looked over the iTunes Top 10 and saw only one “explicit” label (for Dr. Dre’s “I Need A Doctor”), I decided to do a little digging.So here’s what 5 minutes of Googling lyrics for these “non-explicit” songs got me:On the Floor from Jennifer Lopez:

All I need is some vodka and some chunka cokeAnd watch a chick get donkey konged

F**kin’ Perfect by Pink (Ahem. Seriously?! I won’t bother to quote the lyrics … you can check them out for yourself).Til The World Ends by Britney Spears

Watch me move when I lose when I lose it hardGet you off with the touch dancin’ in the darkYou notice what I’m wearingI notice when you’re staringYou know that I can take it to the next level babyHotter than the A-listNext one on my hit listBaby let me blow your mind tonight!

Rihanna’s S&M (I pointed out the irony of Rihanna’s song not having an explicit label in another post.)

Cause I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at itSex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of itSticks and stones may break my bonesBut chains and whips excite me

By this time I was curious … so I started hunting for the definition of “explicit” and found the iTunes “About” page. (Note that iTunes follows the lead of the RIAA‘s Parental Advisory Standards, so I’m not picking on iTunes). Here are some of the highlights:

Whether, in light of contemporary cultural morals and standards and the choices and views of individual parents, the recording might be one that parents may not want their child to listen to.

So the majority of parents are okay with their kids singing along about the excitement of whips and chains? Hmm.

The context of the artist performing the material, as well as the expectations of the artist’s audience, is also important. In addition to profanity, “depictions of violence, sex, or substance abuse” must be considered when making a determination regarding the application of the Parental Advisory Label.

Well okay then.I’m not going to start the whole “Going to heck in a hand basket” rant (and what exactly is a hand basket anyway?!). That’s not my point. My point is this: we’ve GOT to pay attention. We = youth leaders. We = parents. We = anyone who cares about students. We can’t rely on labels given by others. We have to be willing to do our due diligence. Listen. Research. Pay attention.


Here are some ways to get started:Check the iTunes Top 10 list – you can hear 30 or 90 second clips on iTunes.Check out the “Today’s Hits” section on YouTube’s music channel.Look up lyrics. I like MetroLyrics, but there are lots of choices online.Our friends at CPYU do a weekly update of “Youth Culture Top Ten Lists.” This is a quick overview of media and is a great way to familiarize yourself with what’s hot from a variety of sources.And we’ll keep talking about it on this blog. Not just because it’s our job, but because we’re trying to pay attention for our students.So how about you? What do you do to make sure you’re paying attention?

2 Responses to Paying Attention

  1. I wanted to add http://www.pluggedin.com/ to this.Focus on the Family, Plugged In Online. Movie, song, book, TV reviews for the family. This is the best place I’ve found for this.Also available on a free app.

  2. great article! a needed challenge to pay attention.sorry if this is too far afield, but for movie reviews that seriously pay attention, check out kidsinmind.com. they are a family site, not necessarily christian, and they list EVERYTHING that pops up in a movie in three categories: sex/nudity, violence/gore, profanity/language. they give each category at 1-10 rating, and then explain in detail why each rating was assigned. this will make you pay attention.for example, in a rating of 3 for language the following description is found “2 scatological terms, 5 anatomical terms, 11 mild obscenities, 12 religious exclamations, name-calling.” the movie? Rango, rated PG… pay attention

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