Listen Responsibly | Teen Ink

Listen Responsibly

January 13, 2009
By AlwaysWrite28 DIAMOND, Flushing, New York
AlwaysWrite28 DIAMOND, Flushing, New York
95 articles 28 photos 22 comments

Favorite Quote:
"What makes a flower a flower? And why doesn't the dandelion qualify?" -From my poem "Dandelions"

Music is as old as humankind, from the first sound created, to our advanced technological graphics in the music videos of today. The sound of the 50’s portrayed love and the ideal black and white TV family of that era, ever see a rerun of Happy Days? As the times changed, so did the music. In the 60’s the world realized, we have freedom of speech and why should we all be conformists and live by the systematic plans set before us? They all bought vans which were their homes, straightened their hair, smoked a few herbal substances, and protested against “the man”. The 70’s rolled along and continued the legacy the previous decade left behind, interracial friendships and marriages were becoming more common, and everyone did what they wanted. In the 80’s sound became more vital and many acoustic songs were out the window, techno, freestyle, and hip-hop were at large. Songs were messages of love, betrayal, destiny, and war protests. Singers were breaking out from every color and background and provided a musical icon for every individual. The 90’s are sometimes frowned upon for the way it all seems so synthetic and less heartfelt, but everyone will remember where the singers and groups that made a come back in the 2000’s started from.
Today our music is exciting, daring, and entices us to make bad decisions, and enjoy them. Songs about running away with an unaccepted love, getting high to feel great, having underage sex, drinking alcohol to feel less stressed, and killing for vengeance are the influential messages that society bobs along to on their iPods. I listen to all music, rap, emo-rock, alternative, hip-hop, pop, songs from other countries, and any other genre you can name. The messages are mostly negative, but there are a few diamonds in the rough, like Alicia Keys and Natasha Bedingfield who have a nice beat and great lyrics, but that doesn’t mean I only listen to good clean music. I listen to every song in the American Top 40 every chance I get, my favorite album on my play list right now is Boys Like Girls, all their songs are emo and about living with making bad decisions, running away, getting high or drunk, or doing something that can wreck your life. I listen to it because I like the sound of the music, and the lyrics, I would never do anything that they talk about of course, but I still like the songs. Every teen I know says the same thing, but my grandparents still argue with me every time we drive long distance. My parents like my music, my grandparents say, and I quote, “You can use this music to torture terrorists.” Their music can be good sometimes, but it’s really one-sided and monotonous. Every song is about falling in love, but nothing more then love, no adventure stories about running off to start over, nothing exciting, just boring, clean dance moves and skirts down to the ankle.
Now the time is very different. We all want to listen to lyrics that reveal our dreams and fantasies. Discovering my deep interest in this topic, I decided to interview my grandparents, Melvin 63, and Carol 66, from New York as well as my friends Maia 14, Quebec and Haley 14, Arizona. All of them answered in their bluntly honest opinions as I expected, here are a few quotes from the interviews.
Q: What do you think about current music?
Melvin (Grandpa):
“I think its disrespectful, a negative influence on young people, it emphasizes on drugs, sex, and crime, the music videos are a bad influence especially on young kids approaching high school age. They get involved with this and think its high quality when its street music that should not even be broadcasted.”
Carol (Grandma):
“I also think that it’s a bad influence on the young children, they think the music videos are cute because of the beat, or the characters in the video, it changes their behavior toward other children, and toward other people in the world, it’s a very bad influence, I saw once on TV this kid was asked why he shot someone and blamed it on what he saw in a music video. It’s a very bad influence.”
“Past music: I don't get to hear much of it, since most of it is quite... gone, by now, but I love The Beatles and some songs by the Ramones. Current music: lots of trash, but if you're patient enough to sort out the good stuff, we actually have some amazing music these days!!”
“I think current music might seem much different than past music, but just the same. If you look back on old rock bands such as AC/DC, they sing about sex, drugs and rock and roll just like the music of present day. I like both past and new music, for my iPod has enough room for the Blink 182 and Van Halen. Music has always been dirty and has always contained provocative lyrics, but if the rhythm is enjoyable, chances are I'll be listening to it.”

What is your favorite genre, artist or era and why?
Grandpa: “1950’s early 60’s, Doo-wop, Motown, rhythm and blues”
Grandma: “Me too”
“That's the million dollar question. I don't have favorite genres or bands, I just have favorite songs; well of course there ARE some bands that get every song perfect, like Tokio Hotel. (Good looks don't hurt them either!!)”
“I love all varieties of music from country to classic to Irish to rap and hip hop. I like several different artists for varying reasons. I love Toby Keith because of his music and the person that he is, yet I love the Kottonmouth Kings for their music alone. I don't condone their drugs, sex, and the rest of it that they are involved in openly but as long as it doesn't twist my mind, I don't have a problem with what they do in their private time. They entertain me, and their personal business isn't for me to judge.”

Have you ever had a radio battle with your parents or grandparents, describe it.
“Oh yeah. My dad wanting me to turn down the music went like this: "MAIA, TURN DOWN THAT TRASH NOISE, THE NEIGHBORS ARE GONNA CALL THE COPS!!!"
“Oh, well yes. My parents hate rap music and they caught me listening to it once on my computer and my dad was extremely unhappy about it and unfairly so.”

Do you know that a song has bad messages yet still listen to it because it is catchy?
“Yep. I'm bad. The catchy beat is definitely the first thing I notice of a song.”
“Yes, many songs are about drugs, sex, drinking, and other disreputable things, but if I like the sound of the music, I could care less about the message. It doesn't affect me, though I am concerned for other people that the lyrics might influence. I like music for both lyrics and music. Sometimes I don't like the lyrics, but I love the sound so I listen anyway. Other times I really love the lyrics, like the song ‘Just a Dream’ by Carrie Underwood.”

Have you ever changed your opinion toward a song after really hearing the lyrics?
“It depends whether the lyrics are positive or negative. If I hear a song that I love for the music, and then I realize the words are incredibly inappropriate, I just think ‘so what... can't even understand it unless it's written down.’ If I hear a song that's amazing for the music and I realize the words are even more fabulous, well, I'm conquered. If I hear a song with boring music but amazing lyrics, I'll usually be sick of the music and turn it off before I find out about the lyrics. Someone has to FORCE me to listen, and then I'll be like ‘whoa this song is good after all!’”
“No, if I don't like the lyrics but I like the beat, I just ignore the words and listen to the sound. The lyrics don't affect me or influence my thoughts in anyway, even if I'm singing along.”

In what respect has music changed from your time to my time?
“It has gone from emphasizing love and happiness to drugs and sex, there is nothing clean about this music. In our age, the songs emphasized love, togetherness, and being happy, the songs and dances were so enjoyable, we’d run home from school in the afternoon to watch American Bandstand with Dick Clark and it was such a big part of my life, to see if Bob and Justine were still going together, Ken and Arlene, the idea was that you related to these people and these kids were as clean and wholesome as the music. Every song was cherished, I knew every word to every song and most of them, I still do. I’d look forward to my favorite artist coming out with a new record I couldn’t wait for Frankie Valley and Johnny Maestro to come out with their next song we’d stand in the street at night, if you weren’t playing ball you were listening to your favorite disc jockey play our music. This era is such a phenomenon that 50 years later I’m still listening to that music and 50 years later I’m still going to concerts, and the tickets are sold out like that. It’s all because the music is fantastic, clean, great music.”

After my grandparents listened to 2 of today’s popular songs, one that is dirty, and one that is clean, they had their opinions. . .

Whatever you Like by: T.I. (the dirty song)
“From the beginning of the video, filth and dirt is emphasized, from the time he’s looking at her, right through, everything he’s saying is dirty and filthy, this is a prime example of what’s wrong with the music today, in my time, it didn’t matter the color, creed, or religion, music all had the universal message of love, it was positive reinforcement for youngsters, this song is trash!”
Grandma: “Garbage, one word, garbage,”

Hey there Delilah by: The Plain White T’s (the clean song)
“The song had a positive message, it was clean, there was no filth in there but he has trouble with his voice, the song again, had no drugs or filth, and I respect that, but its nothing like the all time greats.”
“I think it was a very nice love song about two young people that miss each other, and that was the way he could put it into words,”

In conclusion, my friends have very different opinions from my grandparents; they also have about 50 years between them, half a century provides plenty of room for improvements or changes. I agree with both sides to an extend, my friends listen to music with bad lyrics, and good lyrics because they sound nice, so do it, and my grandparents find some of today’s music disrespectful, which I do as well, but I do not think their era let out a decent percentage of interesting music as my era has. The present belongs to diversity, if you aren’t different, you will never be known or remembered, those one-hit-wonders of the 80’s and 90’s will always be mistaken for a more famous person just because that person made us all feel their music and envy their daring spirit that is truly the works of their song writer! Everything has to do with another, but point blank, in my opinion, today’s music beats out all other eras. My opinion stands unimportant for everyone has their own opinion nowadays; it is the 2000’s after all! Listen responsibly. . .

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.