Blog Post

Parents: Listen to Those Lyrics!

by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer   A new study has found that while rap music is notorious for its questionable lyrics, even pop stars such as Madonna, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson and Beyonce are producing music with graphic sexual language. The study, conducted by the Culture and Media Institute (CMI), the cultural division of the Media Research Center, examined the lyrics of songs appearing on the Billboard Top 20 singles chart from February 29 to June 5. Of the 50 songs they studied, almost half contained sexualized lyrics. Seven songs referred to drugs and/or alcohol and six contained profanity. The CMI study found music by popular recording artists such as Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Madonna and Beyonce on the same list with top-selling rap and hip-hop artists whose lyrics are laced with graphic sexual content. For instance, Mariah Carey’s hit “Touch My Body” contains explicit sexual language while Janet Jackson’s hit “Feedback” refers to “peep shows” and exhibitionism. Rhythm and Blues star Usher, who will be performing at the Democratic National Convention, has defied his claims to be making a stand for marriage and family by producing the hit “Love in This Club” which is about public sex. Parents need to be concerned about the effect this music is having on their children. “A 2006 study published in Pediatrics found that adolescents who listen to music with degrading sexual lyrics were more likely to initiate sexual intercourse and engage in other sexual behavior,” the report found. It also cites a 2007 study by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine that warned of the dangers posed by songs that refer to substance abuse. The researchers noted, “music is known to be highly related to personal identity: young people often model themselves in terms of dress, character and behavior after musical figures.” Another study cited in the report found that 16 percent of high schoolers ranked music among their top three sources of moral guidance. “Many teens in American society are receiving the message that the sexual degradation of women is something to be celebrated, not to mention that profanity and alcohol and/or drug use is glamorous,” the report states. The study concludes by encouraging parents to pay close attention to the music their children are listening to. “The Internet provides easy access to lyrics, a great help to adults concerned about which messages children are receiving from popular music.”  In addition to doing some homework on their children’s favorite artists, other experts suggest that parents take an active role in their children’s music exposure and purchases. Music CDs with graphic content contain parental advisory labels alerting parents to questionable content in the lyrics. Parents should also monitor their children’s exposure to MTV, VH1 and other music video channels. To review the CMI report, which contains the lyrics from many of today’s top songs, visit   © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace.