I saw this infographic a few days ago on Twitter (thanks to @youthculturerep for pointing it out). The topic is millennials and stress. According to the link:
… a study by the American Psychological Association, Millennials (born from 1979 up to 1993) average a stress level of 5.4 on a scale of 10, the second highest of all generations, only slightly eclipsed by Gen X (born from 1965 up to 1978) with an average of 5.6.
Sounds kind of dull and … well … boring. And it’s not really news. After all, aren’t we all stressed? (As a Gen Xer, obviously I am!) But check out that stat about millennials using music to cope with stress — 60% of millennials deal with stress by listening to music.
This is yet another reminder of the powerful influence that music has on students. It’s something that they turn to at some of their most stressful, vulnerable moments. Their choices are many, but wouldn’t it be great if at least some of the music they play in those moments did more than “relieve stress”? What if it could actually teach and encourage them in their faith?
That’s what great Christian music can do. And it’s why we keep talking about the role that youth leaders can play in introducing students to new bands and new songs. Music plays an important part in students’ lives. Don’t miss the chance to introduce them to new artists and songs that have an eternal message. Who knows? Maybe next time they’re stressed they’ll look for a playlist of music you told them about.
Today is the first day of summer vacation for students here in Nashville. I’ve been out of school for … let’s just go with “a while”. But I can still sense the anticipation in the air. I remember the feeling of freedom, excitement and fun that comes with last day of school.
And then there’s the music.
It seems like no other season warrants its own soundtrack quite like summer does. It’s amazing to me how my brain automatically associates certain songs with summer, and hearing one on the radio or on shuffle always brings back a flood of memories.
I even remember waaaaay back to hanging out around a friends’ pool with a bunch of middle school girls (back when we called it junior high), and practically wearing out a Madness cassette on the boom box.
What about you? What songs do you associate with summers past and present? What songs do you hope your students remember from the summer of 2012?
Hard to believe, but it’s Spring Break season. Over the next month or so your students will get a much-anticipated break from school. A lot of you are going to jump in the church van and head off for a retreat, camp, mission trip or service opportunity.
What “must have” songs are on your Spring Break playlist? Do you have a theme song picked out for your mission trip? What song have you heard lately that you thought represented the windows-down-winter-is-over attitude of the season? Share in the comments below and help us put together a playlist for Spring Break 2012.
One of my favorite blogs (and the first blog I started reading regularly) is ypulse. Ypulse is all about media and technology as it relates to students, and although the focus is marketing, the information is very relevant to student ministry.
Ypulse also does research, and while I haven’t purchased any of their reports, the description of their new report on Entertainment has been bouncing around in my brain for a few days now.
Millennials rarely take a break from media now that it is just as mobile as they are. Music is Millennials’ favorite medium; they spend more time with it in a typical week than with any other. They’re turning music discovery into an art form, picking up on tracks played during TV shows, noting mentions on Facebook, and finding artists via Pandora and Spotify.
“Turning music discovery into an art form”
That’s the line that’s stuck with me. Students can’t turn around without hearing new music. Shopping. Watching. Surfing. And their options aren’t limited to what’s on this week’s “Top 40.” I don’t know about you, but I’m not thrilled about Abercrombie & Fitch or Jersey Shore being the only purveyors of new music for kids. As a youth leader, you’ve got the chance to be right there in the mix, playing new tunes, introducing new artists and songs that reinforce the Biblical truths you’re working to instill.
What an amazing opportunity!
Don’t miss the chance you have to be a source of great new music. Sure, it makes you look cool, but more importantly, it can impact your students’ thinking about relationships, about themselves, about God. We work hard to make sure the music and videos that are a part of Youth Leaders Only can help you drive home the messages you want your students to hear … all day, every day. Not just on Sundays and Wednesdays.
First, a confession …
I didn’t watch the Video Music Awards on MTV Sunday night. I know, I know. My “job” is music, and not that long ago I would have been glued to the TV. But thanks to DVRs, YouTube and the internet, I decided I’d spend the evening with my family and catch the highlights the next day.
“Highlights” being a relative term.
The first thing I heard on Monday morning wasn’t about any one performance, but about the amount of bleeping that the censors had to do for the broadcast. The New York Times summed it up this way:
This was maybe the most bleeped award show in history, and certainly among the lewdest: Lady Gaga’s opening monologue, in drag, channeling Andrew Dice Clay and Denis Leary; Cloris Leachman swapping foul talk with the “Jersey Shore” cast; Justin Bieber making phallus jokes with his girlfriend, Selena Gomez, during the preshow. The flat toilet humor of last year’s host, Chelsea Handler, had nothing on this.
Shock and Awe
The Video Music Awards have always been a spectacle – the outfits, the performances, the banter. Each years’ show seems to offer something to top the previous year’s outrageousness. And this year offered multiple moments of “what next?!” – Lady Gaga in drag, Beyonce’s pregnancy “announcement,” Katy Perry’s outfits (including her apparent tribute to the Rubik’s cube).
And then there was the language.
Tyler the Creator offered an acceptance speech that was unintelligible for all the censored language. Lil Wayne closed the night with a performance that made me think the mute button on my remote was possessed. I’ve been googling this morning to try and find a count of how many cuss words were used on the show. I guess nobody could keep track. Or maybe it’s because, as we’ve talked about recently, the definition of “cussing” varies depending on who you ask.
Regardless of my impulse to dismiss the show as nothing more than a over-the-top-self-promotion-fest for the artist of the moment, I – we – need to pay attention to the VMAs. Why? Because our students do.
This year’s VMAs were record setting with 12.4 million viewers – the largest audience in the history of show and the largest audience ever for an MTV telecast. Of those viewers, eight and a half million of Sunday’s viewers were between 12 and 34 years old.
Events like the VMAs shine the spotlight on a Lady Gaga or a Katy Perry or a Lil Wayne. And the combination of vulnerability, curiosity, peer pressure and still-developing wisdom that defines the teenage years makes kids a sponge for the messages of the culture. Part of a youth leaders’ job is to encourage students to think for themselves, and not just accept the messages of the culture. We have to help them understand that scripture offers them a measuring stick for what they see and hear.
How about you: Did you watch the VMAs? Have you talked to students about the show? How are you encouraging your students to process what culture throws their way?
UPDATE 8/25/11: We wanted to share the re:tuned discussion starter for this song with you from YLO85. Please take any opportunity you have to engage your students on this song. Click here to download the re:tuned article.
It seems most of the media outlets are ready to crown LMFAO’s song “Party Rock Anthem” as the feel-good song of the summer of 2011, as it’s spent the last 6 weeks at the top of the Billboard Top 100. While the video is relatively tame (and the dancing is pretty awesome), I promise your kids are singing along to these lyrics without much thought to their content.
The duo are uncle and nephew (makes me wonder who’s a role model for who?) and their acronym name, according to this interview on NPR, was suggested by Sky Blu’s grandmother.
Check out some of what’s being said about the duo and their music:
Mark shared his thoughts a while back about the “hidden gems” on the CDs in every YLO box. I was cleaning up our youtube channel today and stumbled across this video. It’s a great reminder that we don’t always know what songs are going to impact our students.
Then an article I read today reminded me of the story we’d already heard from Adam Young (aka Owl City) about the young fan who shared with him that one of his songs made her change her mind about taking her own life.
Music has a powerful influence on students’ lives – both positive and negative. And while we may gravitate to one song or artist or style of music, we never know what is going to speak to our students.
So, if you’re already a Youth Leaders Only member, take this as a gentle nudge to be generous with your music. Get your music collection off the soundboard and out of the church building! Share it with your kids, and let them discover some great music on their own.
If you’re not an interlinc member, think about ways that you can introduce great Christian music and artists to your students. (Obviously, we think YLO is a great way to do that!) Give them the opportunity to discover something that speaks to them.
I missed the morning shows this morning. Okay, I’ll be honest, I miss the morning shows most days. I’m usually overruled in favor of an episode of “Dinosaur Train” after breakfast. But apparently I missed out today on the kick off of the summer concert series on both Today – featuring Rihanna (first on the set list? S&M, which I’ve already written about) – and Good Morning America, where watchers woke up to Lady Gaga arriving on stage via zipline.
So happy together
Television and music have long been partners. Long before “Music Television” aka MTV (you know, back when they actually played music videos), there were glimmers of what was to come … Ed Sullivan and the Beatles, for instance . Television gives artists a platform to reach millions of new fans. And conversely, shows like American Idol have launched dozens of music careers.
Speaking of American Idol
I’ve heard a lot of conversations this week (both in person and online) about the outcome of this season’s American Idol. I’ve also read commentary on the content of this season’s shows, the faith of the two finalists, and the various guest artists’ performances.
Jonathan McKee wrote yesterday about the seemingly split personality of this season – the wholesome images of the two young finalists and the sexually charged performances by guest artists like Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez. (His post also includes a note from one of winner’s Scotty McCreery’s youth leaders, giving a little first-person insight into this young mans upbringing and faith.)
I’m not a pop-culture expert, but I honestly can’t think of another television show that has impacted the music industry like American Idol. Maybe “American Bandstand” would rank right up there. (So I guess that makes Ryan Seacrest this generation’s Dick Clark … I included the Wikipedia link for those of you that don’t recognize that name.)
I read this morning that Scotty McCreery’s single “I Love You This Big” is poised to be the 300th song from the American Idol franchise to chart at #1. The numbers are pretty amazing:
Despite the industry-wide decline in album sales, the Idol franchise has sold more than 50 million albums in its 10-year history, and over 250 million downloaded singles from iTunes alone.
When we talk about the impact that music has on students, it’s so much bigger than the lyrics of the songs they listen to (although the lyrics definitely matter, as I’ve written about before). Music is more than what your students hear in their headphones. It’s a three dimensional thing, coming at them from all directions. On TV. On their computer. In ads. It’s an integral part of our culture, and avoiding it is impossible.
But making smart choices isn’t.
Obviously I’m not condoning giving up music, and I’m not telling anyone to pitch their TV out the window and never watch another morning show again. Burying our heads in the sand is impossible – and frankly, not what I think Jesus would want us to do. So how do we make wise choices? And teach students to make their own wise choices? Share your ideas in the comments … we’re all in this together!
Thanks to the wonder of Facebook, I woke up (at my normal time, thank you very much) last Friday to discover that way too many people I knew had already been up for hours watching the festivities from London. The wedding of Prince William and Kate (can I still call her that? I guess “Princess Catherine” is more appropriate now) has fascinated people around the world.
How is popular culture helping to shape what teens and young adults think about marriage?
Another Kate’s wedding plans
I’d already been chewing on that question, because last Wednesday morning I happened to catch a few minutes of the Today show. Matt Lauer was interviewing (a very pregnant) Kate Hudson and noticed the engagement ring on her finger. In the midst of the “breaking news” of her engagement to Muse frontman Matt Bellamy, Matt asked her if they’d set a date. Here response was “I think we’re just going to [settle] into the baby thing for a little bit and figure out a good time.”
Have you heard about … ?
I don’t consider myself a person who follows the ins and outs of celebrity culture, but every time I stand in line at the grocery store, I have a chance to get caught up on all the latest news. Are they or aren’t they … Pregnant? Engaged? Separated? Back together? Planning the wedding of the year?
In a culture that follows the relationship ups and downs of celebrities, reality show stars, princes and pop stars, students are constantly hearing messages about relationships and seeing models of marriage that don’t line up with God’s plan. Couples live together, have kids, and often part ways without (any public expression of) regret. Weddings often seem to be nothing more than an afterthought (and an excuse for a big party).
More than music
When we talk about the influence of music and media in students’ lives, we’re not just talking about the lyrics of songs. The celebrity status of artists makes their relationship choices front page (or morning show) news. After the fifteenth-billion report on the-latest-couple-whose-mashed-up-names-should-be-copyrighted, it almost starts to seem normal.
Are you challenging your students not only about the lyrics they hear, but the lifestyle choices their favorite artists make? The outliers might seem obvious, but what about the “normal” artists who don’t dress in condom outfits or hatch from eggs? Seize the opportunity and have a conversation soon with a student (or two or 12) about how the choices their favorite celebs are making line up with God’s plan.
We know for many of you, you’ve planned ahead for this week, just like you do every other week. But for those of you putting together last minute plans, here’s a list of some of the Easter themed resources we’ve brainstormed during the last week or so:
We posted last week about the Circleslide video for “You Are Everything.”
I’ve also added another great Bible study for the song “The Blame” from All Star United to our weekly freebie page.
We asked you guys for suggestions for songs on our Facebook page and Twitter; here were some of your ideas:
In Christ Alone
New Again by Sara Evans & Brad Paisley
I Never Knew by Christian Stevens
Glorious Day by Casting Crowns
How Great Is The Love by Meredith Andrews & Paul Baloche
Death in His Grave by Mark McMillian
Easter Song by Keith Green (or the Second Chapter of Acts version)
We’ve also seen some cool things floating around the internet the last few weeks. We try to tweet these kind of things as we find them, so if you’re not following us on Twitter, you might want to start.