How much of an impact does music have on people's actions and behavior? From personal experience, I'd have to say, a pretty big one. How many times have you turned on a song to set a romantic mood, get you pumped up, or help you relax?
So wouldn't it stand to reason that overly-sexual, misogynistic, or just flat nasty song lyrics would also have an impact on how people behave?
A 2006 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics presented very strong evidence (2 years ago, Mamas!) that sexually degrading lyrics in music encourages adolescents to initiate sexual intercourse and other sexual activities more quickly.
A press release about the study put it in the plainest language:
Researchers found that only sexually degrading lyrics – many quite graphic and containing numerous obscenities – are related to changes in adolescents' sexual behavior. These lyrics depict men as sexually insatiable, women as sexual objects, and sexual intercourse as inconsequential. Other songs about sex do not appear to influence youth the same way.
Yet today, I as I flip through the stations on my way to work I'm greeted with multiple spins of:
Sexy Can I - Ray J
Sexy can I, just pardon my manners.
Girl how you shake it, got a playa like (ohhhh)
It's a kodak moment, let me go and get my camera
All I wanna know is, Sexy can I, Sexy Can I, hit it from the front,
then I hit it from the back.
know you like it like that.
then we take it to the bed, then we take it to the floor
then we chill for a second, then we're makin love some more
Love In This Club - Usher
Might as well give me a kiss, if we keep touchin like this
i know you scared baby, They dont know what we doin
Lets both get undressed right here, keep it up girl i swear, imma give it to you non stop
and i dont care, who's watchin...watchin...watchin
wanna make love in this club (in this club. in this club)
Lollipop - Lil Wayne
Shawty wanna lic-lic-lic-lick me like a lollipop
Shawty lick lick lick me like a lollipop (lollipop)
Shawty wanna lick me, lick me like a lollipop
So I let her lick the wrapper
Shawty wanna thug
Bottles in the club
Shawty wanna hump
Ya know I like to touch ya lovely lady lumps
There was a time when I would turn the station if a dirty song came on the radio while I was in the car with my daughter. Now that she's 14, I don’t even bother. She's old enough to know what's going on in her world, and hell, she'd just hear it somewhere else anyway.
What I do instead is point out to her the deeper impact of these types of lyrics. EVERYONE is talking about the same thing… hittin' it from the back, knockin' boots (probably showing my age with that one), shakin' it, lickin' it, smackin' it, bouncing big booties, poppin' bottles, etcetera, etcetera, ... blah, blah, blappity blah.
And the messages: Guys control the action. Guys set the tone. Guys spend the money to get girls really drunk and buy stuff for girls. Girls are to be looked at, admired, compared to other girls, and of course sexed up.
Seriously, record companies? Is this the best you can do? Granted, there's better music out there. But unless kids have parents or someone else who is willing to introduce them to better music with deeper, more meaningful lyrics, they're stuck with what's popular.