I’m back on the column beat, and this week I wrote about an age-old dilemma: kids and pop music.
There’s been a lot of fuss over music this summer, from parsing the creepiness of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” to kicking up a stink when Chris Brown was slated to play in Dartmouth. (Just today the promoter announced all of Brown’s Canadian shows are cancelled.)
In a nutshell, I take the following approach:
– Yes, many pop songs are kind of gross. Or they’re recorded by people who are not exactly great role models.
– But this is not new. Every generation has hated and/or feared their kids’ music. When I was a kid, rap music was going to turn everyone into gangsters. Before that, heavy metal would make you a Satanist and Jimi Hendrix would make you a druggie and the Rolling Stones would probably make you a Satanist and a druggie and Elvis’s hip wiggles would make you want to get pregnant. Go back far enough and you could probably find some European parents who didn’t want their kids listening to that crazy romantic with the weird hallucinations, Frederic Chopin.
– We all survived our own poor musical choices and the lousy songs that barraged our ears. I would wager there are very few people my age who could not, right now, hum at least a couple of lines of Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy.”
– Liking a certain type of music has never turned anyone into a serial killer. Yes, music can influence us. But we like to blame music for a whole lot of things. When a disturbed teen goes on a rampage people say it was because he listened to Marilyn Manson or whatever rap group they found in his CD player. But kids who go that route have pre-existing problems. No healthy, well-adjusted kid has ever listened to Snoop Dogg song and thought, “Well, I guess I should go get high and shoot someone now.” It’s not music’s fault.
– That said, don’t rush your kids’ discovery of pop music. A six-year-old girl doesn’t need a poster of a shirtless Justin Bieber hanging on her wall.
– Don’t ever buy Kidz Bop albums. Pop songs re-recorded by pitchy pubescent children? Who ever thought this was not a terrible idea? If any music is the Devil’s music, it’s Kidz Bop.
– Finally, I got nostalgic for the music of my own youth while I was writing. For bonus purposes, here is one of the most magnificent hip-hop music videos ever made. Between the incredible “technology,” Busta Rhyme’s insane verse, and “Who’s that? …. BROOOOWN,” this is four-and-a-half minutes of glory.