My son's favorite song for quite a while has been "Fire Burning on the Dance Floor" by Sean Kingston, the go-to tune for play gyms, birthday parties, and sporting events for 7-year-old boys across the globe. Or at least in my town.
Luckily, it's the beat and not the lyrics he likes, because if he actually knew what Sean was singing about, I'd have to pull the tune from his repertoire: That body is a masterpiece, The order is one in every hundred years, But ain't no doubt I'm takin' it home, home.
You get my drift. There are no swear words. It's tame by most standards. But this is a song about sex, about taking a "hot" babe that you met at a dance club home to bed. Appropriate for a 7-year-old? I say no.
But I still let him listen to it. This issue is in the news recently. Wendy's fast-food chain recently pulled a kids' Disco CD included in some kids' meals because parents complained about the explicit lyrics. The song? Donna Summer's "Last Dance," which includes the line "so horny."
I've heard that song about a zillion times, and I never realized it had those words in the lyrics. I guess I've always heard the radio-friendly version that replaces "so horny" with "so bad," as is often done with popular songs. Whenever I hear it, I'm usually at a wedding, and like my son, I'm focusing on the rhythm and trying not to look like a fool on the dance floor, not thinking about the words. For that reason alone, I probably would still let my kids listen to it.
Unfortunately, a lot of the popular songs that kids love have questionable themes and lyrics, if only implicit. Take the ubiquitous Black Eyed Peas song "I Got a Feeling." If you've seen the video, you know it's about ... having sex. Aren't most songs in one way or another? I've really paid attention to the lyrics and decided they are ambiguous enough not to be concerned as far as my son is concerned.
I hate it when they censor songs and change the words. I'm sure the musical artists hate it too, akin to someone painting a wide-toothed grin on the Mona Lisa. To this day I cringe when I hear the Van Morrison version of "Brown-Eyed Girl" where they replace the "making love in the green grass" with "laughin‚ and a-runnin." They are not laughing and running. They are doing it behind the stadium.
But where do parents draw the line when it comes to their kids?
Do your young kids listen to songs with questionable lyrics? How do you decide whether a song crosses the line?
Image via katrenshaw/Flickr