My 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
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!