My junior Hip Hop class requests songs by pop artists like Bruno Mars or Katy Perry —but sometimes I simply cannot give them what they want because the music represents themes that a normal 10-year-old should never have to hear.
I crouch at my laptop and search for a song on my iTunes that would be an ideal warm-up song. My mind scans quickly through the songs as I ask myself, ‘Does Rihanna swear in this song?’ ‘Is it okay to have the word ‘g-string’ or ‘arse’ in a song?
As a dance teacher, it is my responsibility to play music that is appropriate for the age group in the room. This upcoming generation is all about ‘what’s trending on YouTube’—but on the radio, they hear the bleeped out, hardly making sense version, which is actually about raunchy porn and dope. And, daughters or sons are singing along to it blissfully unaware of the terms ‘grinding’ or ‘lick you up for dessert’?
I would be lying if I said I’ve been completely perfect with the swearing radar. There are times where I play a song and realise this is not the clean version! I run frantically to my sound system and quickly change the tune, but sometimes I am too late. No matter how clean a version says it is, there is always one word that sneaks in. Even on Spotify or iTunes, the word ‘explicit’ next to a song title means very little these days as there are still rude words and blatant sex references in those songs.
Do not reinvent yourself with dirty talk Let me tell you something popstars, you can still be cool and successful without the words B***h, s**t, f**k and so on. You know your audience is the early teenager upwards. You know your songs are played during school pick-up and drop off. Even if you wish to reinvent yourself to suit an older demographic, you will always attract the children so long as your music is in the public pop domain. You have the power to send messages to children all over the world with a click of a button, and you choose to swear and show your nipples in a see-through blouse on your latest video clip?
What kind of example are you setting for these budding dancers who just want to become your backup dancer one day?
Themes are just as bad as the actual swearing Swearing is one thing to consider, but let’s talk about what YOU are actually saying. Can we please move on from the sex, lies and dirty talk? If I hear another line that contains ‘booty, arse-clapping, swish-swish bish, IDGAF, popping cherries’ or any of the like, I will have to start writing my own songs. Michael Jackson—one of Pop’s greatest icons, had dynamic beats and unique themes about politics, discrimination, romance, dancing and having a good time. He did not need to swear because the attacking tone stood in the strong bass beats.
The question you need to ask is this: Would you play your songs to your own children (let’s say aged 7+) or would you consider the language offensive?
All of you big popstars need to focus on what your music is doing to young people. How do you want to make your audience feel? Are you teaching them a lesson in your lyrics? Try expanding from the sexual tones and into the intellectual, emotional tones that truly tug at heartstrings and activate brainwaves.