Emily Statt Dr. Joe Erickson English 1302 Section 30 8 October 2012 The Music Shaping Our Society When you turn on the radio and change it to your favorite station, what are most of the songs about? In today’s society, the majority of them are probably about sex, drugs, and alcohol. These are the principles mainstream singers like Lil Wayne, Drake and Nicki Minaj are pounding into young people’s minds. Instead of directing their music negatively, these artists should try to encourage respectable behavior among our youth.
I believe that the negative lyrics in many popular contemporary songs have a negative influence on the youth of America. Many artists encourage illicit drug use in popular songs of today and advertise them through social media. In November of 2011, Drake released his new hit single “The Motto. ” The fans went crazy over Drake quoting “YOLO,” meaning you only live once. Drake’s quote has been plastered on every Facebook wall and in numerous tweets around the country causing added popularity for this young rapper.
In the article “Small Change” by Malcolm Gladwell, He states that social media like Facebook and Twitter is useless and will never start a revolution (319-320). I think that this statement is false simply because in a sense, a revolution has already started. Many young artists use social media as a way to obtain fame from young people and advertise their drug and alcohol habits. Seeing the things teenagers are posting and tweeting about, Drake and other pop artists have caused this generation to believe that no matter how stupid they act, it is somehow acceptable because the person they idolize does it as well.
Songs like this make our age group look ignorant seeing that teenagers are doing illicit drugs and drinking alcohol and their excuse is the quote “YOLO. ” The sexual content in 90% of the pop songs today is encouraging risky sexual behavior in America’s youth. You can hardly enjoy a song on the radio without half of it being bleeped out due to every other word being a curse word or about the human anatomy. I believe that the popular figures in our music world like Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne commenting about sex in every one of their songs makes teenagers think it’s the “cool” thing to do.
I think that promiscuous songs play a huge role in the way women portray themselves in this day and age. I also believe that this portrayal contributes to why there are many more teenage pregnancies now than there were twenty years ago. Increasing levels of profanity and violence in modern song lyrics support an unacceptable level of tolerance for distasteful behaviors. When “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Elvis Presley, came out with his hit song “Hound Dog,” the critics went absolutely crazy. He received many negative comments on his “pelvic shaking” dance moves referring to it as “vulgarity and animalism. Presley never used a curse word or spoke about drug use in his songs, but this didn’t stop the critics from eating him alive in the newspaper articles. Elvis Presley compared to the entertainers of today seems so innocent and yet you rarely hear any controversy over the language and content being put on national television or the radio. Some people have argued that even the negative content in pop culture today can still be nourishing to the brain. For example, Steven Johnson states in “Watching TV Makes You Smarter,” that pop culture should be viewed as a cognitive work out instead of a series of life lessons (279).
I disagree with Johnson’s argument because there isn’t an ounce of intellectual meaning in any popular song on the radio. Vulgar comments, drug use, and sex every other sentence does not “enhance our cognitive abilities” as Johnson states in his article. These lyrics not only make the artist look stupid, but make us as Americans look stupid as well for even listening to them. My generation has been labeled as being the downfall to our nation. Yes, some of us might be offended by this statement, but can you really blame the older generations for thinking this?
I mean look at the people we idolize now compared to previous icons like The Beatles and Frank Sinatra. Look at the statistics on the number of teenage pregnancies in the United States compared to those of earlier times. Drug and alcohol abuse in the United States has also increased over the years and the ages seem to be getting younger. All of these things are very depressing and really make me worry how the next generation will be if ours is this bad. Sadly, we are the only ones to blame for the way our nation is becoming, but the people we idolize play a huge role in the way we portray ourselves as a nation.
It’s no shock that many of today’s popular artists are influencing the youth of America negatively through their lyrics and the way they present themselves. If these young pop artists would realize how much influence they had on our youth, they could really make a change for the better. Gerald Graff’s article “Hidden Intellectualism” backs up this statement and gives an excellent concept that these young artists should follow. In the article “Hidden Intellectualism,” Graff states that it doesn’t matter what you’re interested in, as long as you use what you find interesting and look at it through “academic eyes” (385).
I believe that the following artists use Graff’s idea and apply it not only to their song lyrics, but also their way of life. Artists like Bono, Taylor Swift, and Justin Bieber are constantly giving to charity and setting good examples for their peers. More pop singers should set good examples instead influencing our youth with sex, drugs, and profanity. If more pop artists changed their way of thinking and channeled their music in a positive way, they could set a positive example for America’s youth. Works Cited Gladwell, Malcolm. “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted. They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. Eds. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, Russel Durst. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2011. 312-327. Print. Graff, Gerald. “Hidden Intellectualism. ” They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. Eds. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, Russel Durst. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2011. 380-386. Print. Johnson, Steven. “Watching TV Makes You Smarter. ” They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. Eds. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, Russel Durst. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2011. 277-294. Print.