Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Music vs. Lyrics

Being a parent is complicated. You want the very best for your children, but you want them to make their own decisions. Sometimes- in fact a lot of times- what you want and what they want are totally different things.

My children LOVE Top 40 music. My 11 year old thinks it's cool. And the girls think anything the 11 year old likes is cool.

There are some songs on Top 40 I like, too. And I definitely "get" that they love the beat and the sound of the music. But some of the songs are simply appalling.

I vacillate between thinking, "It's OK, They don't even hear the lyrics," to "OMG- that is such TRASH-- TURN IT OFF!!! (There is something so VERY wrong about hearing your children sing in their sweet, little church choir, cherub voices, "Lick Me Like a Lollipop.")

Looking back on my own childhood, I distinctly remember my parents' reaction to the Loverboy "Get Lucky" record (yes, I said record) being very similar to my current one: panic, concern, fear, disgust, OMG! But I don't ersonally remember putting any real value to the actual lyrics, even as I sang them at the top of my lungs, with my hair brush standing in for my microphone.

The same would go for the movie, "Grease." LOVED it as a child! Could practically quote it line for line... But I had NO IDEA what it meant. Only recently, as I was trying to share with my own children, did I revisit this beloved classic. I sat with mouth agape as my children gleefully took in every word and every note to every song. Was it really always like that? When did it become so "racy"? When did they start saying so many "bad" words? How in the world did I forget the mooning scene, the Sandra Dee virgin scene, or the whole topic of teenaged pregnancy? And yet, as we sat together, my hands covering their eyes as I desperately fished around for the remote, the kids were completely unaware of any wrong-doing, other than by gauging my reaction.

So, as I listen to my children's lyrics of such sordid things as, "I kissed a girl, and I liked it," sung by a very female singer, or "I want to do you in the club, in front of everyone," sung by a popular rap/dance singer, I am torn: I HATE the lyrics- no doubt! But they LOVE the music- the beat, the tune, the sound. They hardly hear the lyrics, other than the words slide around in their head carried by the tune.

Finally, I came up with a solution I can (sort of) live with: I have challenged my kids to come up with new, better lyrics for these songs. They are only allowed to listen to these songs if I hear them singing along (loudly) with their new lyrics. For example, "Lick you like a lollipop" has been changed to "Love you like a teddy bear."

Some will say, "Dumb idea! Just turn the stuff OFF!" And I know the kids will only buy into this to appease mom for so long. But, as a lover of music and dancing, I want to give them the opportunity to love music, too-- but on my terms.

(As a point of fact, I have listened to many Christian music artists, whose music was as loud and boisterous as any Top 40 or Rock band. And their lyrics are frequently screamed, slurred, or otherwise garbled so that you would never know they were singing about Jesus unless you read the lyric sheet.)

So, we're going to try things my way, see how long the kids will go for it, and hopefully, come out the better for it. This evening, it was fun watching them huddled together over pad and pencil, scratching out new lyrics together. They even wanted to get legal advice on how to record and distribute their final products. They wanted to be the "New Weird Al Yankovic," in sibling form.

If nothing else, it is keeping their creative juices flowing, their writing skills sharpened, and a truce between me and the radio for the Summer. Who knows? Maybe years from now, I'll be able to say about my very famous children, "It all started when..."

1 comment:

ThePrincessMommy said...

And I get free tickets to the concert right? But are they going to be more like Alvin and Chipmunks or the Osmonds?