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As Hans Christian Andersen once said, “Where words fail, music speaks”, but perhaps at times, it is speaking too loud.
In today’s society, music plays a huge role in popular culture. It can be found pretty much anywhere, from somewhat catchy yet slightly annoying jingles, to everyday songs on the radio. And whether we are supportive of it or not, the majority of people, primarily teens, have accepted it into their lives without a second thought.
But, do many stop to think what messages music is actually sending to today’s youth?
Well the fact is, whether good or bad, music accounts for a large influential source in the lives of many.
A Growing Accessibility
As technology continues to advance and the world becomes more connected, almost anything can be accessed within the blink of an eye. From pointless cat videos to remedies for the common cold and of course an endless supply of music, we have it all at the tip of our fingers.
Today, instead of going on an endless search to find the CD with your favorite song on it, we are able to simply buy it on iTunes, drastically improving the accessibility for youth and all of society.
For most youth, the latter has become the go to plan of action, and in some cases the only plan they have ever known when it comes to obtaining music.
Under the Influence
With such a big impact, you would think most music would send out a somewhat positive message, right? Wrong. In the Rolling Stones article According to New Study, Musicians Like to Sing About Drugs and Sex, it states that “thirty-three percent of popular songs contain explicit content and forty-two percent of songs hint at substance abuse”. This number is even higher today and growing significantly.
First off, “Habits (Stay High)” released by Tove Lo, is a song that is heavily centered around drugs, making it part of the forty-two percent. The chorus of the song is “I gotta stay/High all the time/To keep you off my mind”. These few lines tell about how the person in the song is using drugs in order to forget about their problems, promoting a negative method of problem solving.
“Purple Pills” sung by D12 not only references the use of several types of drugs, but also refers to the misuse of prescription drugs: “I been to mushroom mountain/Once or twice but who’s countin’/ But nothing compares/ To these blue and yellow purple pills”.
Next, there is “Pumped Up Kicks” preformed by Foster the People, which strongly promotes violence. The entire song is about an individual or group of teenager(s) going out to shoot people. The lyrics “You better run, better run, faster than my bullet” are repeated eight times throughout the song, clearly stating their message creating a more direct impact since there is no decoding to be done.
“Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj not only centers around sex with the commonly known lyrics “My anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns hun” but also makes references to drugs and violence throughout the song.
Lastly, “Talking Body” also sung by Tove Lo, gives many hints about sexual relationships occurring throughout the song. Part of the chorus is “Now if we’re talking body/You got a perfect one/So put it on me”. These lyrics suggest carelessness when it comes to our bodies rather than taking the necessary precautions.
Now while I, myself have listened to the majority of these songs many of times, they are probably not the positive, uplifting songs parents would prefer their kids listen to on a daily basis. With lyrics relating to drugs, violence and sexual situations, it is easy to see how they convey negative messages to their listeners. Yet, these types of songs still seem to dominate pop radio stations across the nation.
But They’re Not All Bad
However, while it seems like at times, society only notices the negative side of music, there are still plenty of songs out there that promote positive messages.
Colbie Caillat’s song “Try” encourages self-confidence and being comfortable in your own skin.
“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten teaches us to stand our ground and stick up for what we believe in.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Same Love” says that same-sex relationships are okay.
And those are just a few. The topics addressed in the songs above all seem to be common problems that teens today are struggling with; self image, different beliefs and developing relationships. Instead of suggesting ways to escape them, these songs are encouraging ways to accept them, something that I believe should be more present in society than drugs and alcohol.
An Outlook On Society
While many people have high hopes for making the country, or even the world, a better place, none of this can be achieved as long as we continue to promote negative habits to the upcoming generations every day of their lives. With so much negativity, how will any of them know how to handle the problems they may face effectively?
Now, I’m not saying we get rid of or replace all music that contains even the slightest negative vibe, the public simply needs to be more aware of the effects music has on society, especially on the younger generations.
We all want something out life. Perhaps it’s a college degree, a successful job or even an end to violence. While some of us may not achieve every goal in our life time, we don’t have to take that possibility away from future generations by instilling in them a plethora of negative messages, corrupting them before they even have the chance to make a difference.
However, all of this can be changed as soon as people simply learn to face the music.