Music is life?

My neighbour’s teenage daughter celebrated her birthday on Saturday and like any teenage party there was laughter, noise and loud music. Laying in bed both my wife and I smiled many times listening to these teens sing to the lyrics of practically every song played, and at the top of their lungs. It continually amazes me how they can know every single song, or maybe I am just getting old.

Then the controversial Miley Cyrus song played, and as clockwork, they sang to the song, yes, at the top of their lungs. I must be honest, it sounded cute when they sang along, despite me knowing the lyrics to it. What concerned me was, the amount of adults who were encouraging these teens to sing along, and I would assume, even dance some kind of Miley dance to this song considering her disconcerting display of dance moves at the VMA last week.

Looking at the news this morning, I see Lady Gaga debuting a few songs at the iTunes festival, with titles like, “Jewels and Drugs,” “Sex Dreams” and “I wanna be with you.” Consider Bruno Mars’s “Gorilla” and yes, even the Miley Cyrus song “We can’t stop.” There is nothing good in these songs and nothing good can come of them.

I’m sure many of us are aware of the thinking that media shapes the minds and lives of our teens, there is nothing new in that understanding. What does scare me is that how few adults know of either the lyrics or the message behind them and often encourage our teens to enjoy it and dance to it and not realise how we encourage possible reckless behaviour and lifestyles. We should be careful what we condone and encourage our teens to listen to as we, the adults, continue to give away the right to be gatekeepers of what enters the teen world.


Music is life? Can we really say that?


The Songs We Sing

We all too familiar with the adage of be carefull of the songs we sing or listen to, because it has the potential to influence and affect the way we think and live.  I remember a song from my childhood days that goes,

“Oh, be careful little ears, what you hear. For the Father Up above, Is looking down in love, So be careful little ears what you hear.”

 After a chat with a buddy of mine about a popular song, I had to ask myself when is it ok to endorse a song? Or what does endorsing a song look like? Is it when we sing it? Or have it on our iPods, or phones, or laptops?

In youth ministry we are to stay abreast of trends and culture. We are to know what’s new, what’s hot and what’s not. We need to be aware of who the new cultural stars, influencers and movers are. But where do we draw the line with following trends?

The song I’m referring to above is “We are Young” by Fun. featuring Janelle Monáe. The song was released late 2011 and has been one of the most downloaded songs for the past few months since its release (see It has also been scripted in the series Glee (Season Three Episode: Hold on to Sixteen) and now in South Africa where it has been used in a car commercial. The message of the song promotes some pretty bad behaviour and if we are not careful we could be led astray by the beat or enticing melody and land ourselves in some hot water. Let’s be honest, it sure is a fun (pun not intended 🙂 ) song to listen to and can be quite addictive.

But before I get carried away, what does this song promote. Quite clearly it promotes substance abuse; binge drinking; and consequences of such behaviour which could be numerous (what is the logical conclusion of carry me home tonight after I drank too much?). What about the scar that’s being referred to? Is it physical? Emotional? Is it abuse because the lover is apologising profusely?

I can understand how this songs can touch on the immortality and recklessness that defines young people. How they can conquer the world and live in the moment of pure bliss. I can see and experience how this songs tugs at the heart and creates pure desire for the beauty of NOW. Of camaraderie and friendship.  But it is misplaced. If we are not careful, we can encourage this misplacing of youthful abandonment and could have disastrous consequences.

Is that the kind of message we want to endorse?

Have a look at the video and see how easy it is to fall for the song.