7-Year-Old's Interpretation of Song Lyrics Are Better Than the Real Thing

Jeanne Sager | Mar 21, 2013 Big Kid

headphonesMy friends and I got together with our kids recently, and a dance party broke out. The song was "Sexy and I Know It," and the kids were going wild. And then something awkward happened. Kids, none of them older than 8, took their shirts off.

None of the moms knew quite what to say. Were our kids just being silly? They're just kids, after all? Or did our kids really know what this song was about?

It's the question we all ask, isn't it? When we're listening to the latest hot song on the radio and the kids are singing along, is it the catchy beat that's getting to them or do they really understand the adult themes of most top 40 hits?

I decided to find out.

I asked parents what songs their kids just can't stop singing. Songs like Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" and Justin Timberlake's "Suit and Tie." Songs like P!nk's "Try" and Alicia Keys' "Girl on Fire."

Then I sat my 7-year-old daughter down and played the songs, one by one, and I asked her to tell me what they're really about.

I should note that I'm aware my kid is not every kid in America. Some kids are probably more observant, some less.

I chose her for this experiment because, hey, she's cheap labor (all it cost me was one black cat Webkinz ... which should totally be a write-off, right?).

I also picked her because she's a fairly savvy 7-year-old (if I do say so myself). She knows that commercials on TV are just trying to sell her something. She is an avid reader with good comprehension. She tends to "get" things if she pays attention.

Most of all, I picked her because I was curious. She's listening to this music because I always assumed the "bad" stuff went over her head.

Turns out, it does ... and it doesn't. Some of her answers may surprise you; they did me. I learned that girl power translates to any age, and that apparently there is an actual reason little girls are obsessed with "Call Me Maybe."

I also found out there's a difference between playing a song on the radio in front of her and playing a song and asking her to actually listen -- a HUGE comfort!

I hope her answers help you with your fears over what your kid is listening to ... and I hope you try this experiment with YOUR kids!

What surprised you most?


Image by Jeanne Sager

  • Scream & Shout -- Will.i.am and Britney Spears


    Image via Amazon

    What It's About: It's not so much the theme of the song as Britney Spears saying "and Britney bitch" ... even on the radio, that makes this one uncomfortable for parents.

    What the Kid Thought: It's about them saying bad words! They want to scream and shout and let it all out.

    Mom Note: I wondered if she'd even notice the curse words. It plays on the radio, after all. Ooooh, she did! She actually told me to turn the song off because she didn't think she should be listening to it.

    Ironically, we'd heard the song on the radio before, and she never said anything about turning it off. I took that as something comforting -- just because something bad is playing doesn't mean a kid is actually keying into it!

  • Sexy & I Know It -- LMFAO


    Image via Amazon

    What It's Really About: The title really says it all, doesn't it? The guy thinks he's God's gift to women ...

    What the Kid Thought: It's about boys thinking they're sexy and trying to get girls to like them. It's not very appropriate for kids, but I like when they say "wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, yeah"!

    Mom Note: Wiggling is funny when you say it. But I was surprised she said it wasn't appropriate ... she'd never said that before, or taken note. Once again, listening to a song on the radio vs. being asked to "really" listen made a big difference.

    Another point for comfort, parents!

  • Suit & Tie -- Justin Timberlake


    Image via Amazon

    What It's Really About: J.T. is dressing up and hitting the club to go on the prowl ... and all the kids are singing along.

    What My Kid Thought (Note: I played a cleaned-up version): I think it's about a suit and tie he really likes!

    Mom Note: Well, she's kind of right, isn't she?

  • Girl on Fire -- Alicia Keys


    Image via Amazon

    What It's Really About: Something of a girl power anthem, it's not dirty but it's got depth. The "girl on fire" is admired but it's from afar.

    What the Kid Thought: Alicia Keys thinks she's on fire, which means you're really awesome at something.

    Mom Note: Girl power translates to any age.

  • Blow Me (One Last Kiss) -- P!nk


    Image via Amazon

    What It's Really About: Another classic kiss-off song from the P!nk, it's all about a breakup, which isn't too bad ... until she goes out to the bar, gets drunk, and brings home a random guy. Oh yeah, and then there's the suggestive title.

    What the Kid Thought: P!nk doesn't want any more kisses because she's sick and tired of men.

    Mom Note: We're big P!nk fans in our house, and she's heard the song hundreds of times. She was even singing along, but when I stopped the song after just a few bars and asked what it was about, she had no clue. So I then played the whole thing and asked her to listen closely. I was surprised by how spot on she was ... and relieved that she didn't take note of the more unsavory parts of the song.

  • Thrift Shop -- Macklemore


    Image via Amazon

    What It's Really About: It really is about a guy hitting the thrift shop for his duds, but even in the cleaned up version (which is what we played!), there are some uncomfortable mentions of R. Kelly's sheets and the "piss" smell of thrift store clothes.

    What the Kid Thought: Someone wants to go to the thrift store, and they only have $20. I don't really like it; it doesn't sound good. I just don't like that style of music.

    Mom Note: Phewwww, she didn't notice the bad stuff! I was also surprised that she didn't really dig the song, but I guess I shouldn't be. I'm not the biggest fan either (yes, I know, I blaspheme!).

  • We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together -- Taylor Swift


    Image via Amazon

    What It's Really About: What is ANY Taylor Swift song about? She broke up with a guy, and she's sooooo over him.

    What the Kid Thought: They were together like boyfriend and girlfriend and then they broke up. I like it because it's my style of music, I like to sing "never, ever" ...

    Mom Note: Taylor Swift lyrics are pretty clean, and most little girls my daughter's age like her. But I've heard from more than a few moms that they worry the songs' boy-centric themes will infect their daughters. From what I could tell, my daughter just likes the beat. Phewww.

  • Call Me Maybe -- Carly Rae Jepsen


    Image via Amazon

    What It's Really About: A girl has fallen head over heels with a guy she just met, and she's hoping her crush will call her.

    What the Kid Thought: Trying to get someone to call you because you want to talk to them about dating.

    Mom Note: At first she stopped at "talk to them." When I asked her what about, she turned red and said, "I don't know if I should say." I had to tell her she wouldn't be in any trouble before she added "about dating."

  • Try -- P!nk


    Image via Amazon

    What It's Really About: Taking risks with love.

    What the Kid Thought: It's a song about how you can do anything if you just try.

    Mom Note: It's interesting that the superficial meaning came through, even if the deeper one will take some maturing.

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