Recently, I was driving in the car with my daughter, when Justin Timberlake came on the radio. Without thinking, I started bopping my head. I had showered that morning. I was wearing a clean shirt. Hell, yeah, I was bringing sexy back.
All of a sudden, from the back seat, I heard the following.
“You know what, Mommy? When he says ‘I’m bringing shezzy back,’ it’s really catchy.”
Umm, yes. Really catchy. Needless to say, I turned the station. Good-bye Justin, hello Adam Levine.
Lately my 6-year-old daughter has become more interested in music. She knows songs on the radio that I don’t even know, lyrics and all. And so, when playing my music on shuffle in the car, I’ve had to be more careful. Like when Snoop Dogg suddenly comes on, announcing “I got b—-s in the living room, gettin it on” or tenderly reminds his lady “I don’t love you hoes, I’m out the do’.”
Which, with my daughter in the back seat, makes me do some serious thinking.
Back in the day, when my girlfriends and I were dancing to these songs on sticky frat house floors, pretending not to gag on our Pabst Blue Ribbon, we all knew there was something wrong with this music. But we tacitly agreed to ignore the disturbing misogyny and rampant use of the “b” word because, well, the music was so damn catchy. (You know… it was like this and like that and like this and uh.) Maybe it was the Jäger Bombs, but for some reason we were all happy to “jump around” to a bunch of smug dudes with microphones declaring “if your girl steps up, I’m smacking the ho.” Hey, it’s just music, right?
Maybe, but I’ll be damned if I’ll let my 6-six-year-old hear any of it. She’s going to have to be a lot older before she’s ready to — what, exactly? Give up her self-respect for a cool beat and an excuse to get some guy on the dance floor? I’m not gonna lie. My husband and I still play classic hip-hop on Pandora and “drop it like it’s hot” from time to time. But more often than not, we find ourselves skipping past our old favorites because, well, we’d like to avoid dirty looks at the playground should our kid start waxing philosophical about b—-s and hoes. And, if I’m honest, these days “Doggystyle” and “The Chronic” make me kind of uncomfortable — even when the kids aren’t around. I guess, over the years, I’ve grown up, and the misogyny (not to mention everything else going on in those songs) doesn’t seem so lighthearted anymore.
Not that questionable lyrics are limited to my ’90s CD collection. Hearing my daughter trying to sing along to “Blurred Lines” makes me want to gag a little. Even Meghan Trainor, with all her junk “in all the right places” makes for some awkward sing-a-longs — especially when my 2-year-old son tries to get in the mix.
So where does that leave me? I suppose there’s a vast, safe land of Taylor Swift and Maroon 5 out there, with plenty of benign, catchy beats. But really, has it come to this? I mean, my parents raised me on Pink Floyd and the Stones. I saw Nirvana at Roseland Ballroom. I threatened to move out of our new apartment because my now-husband lent my Beastie Boys CD to a neighbor. I can’t just “Shake It Off.” If I have to hear Adam Levine howling one more time through the radio, I may develop road rage. Music has always been my “thing” — are my only choices now “Wheels on the Bus” or Katy Perry?
I’m not giving up. There’s a whole world of classic rock out there, with ten-minute guitar solos and no mention of women’s genitalia. Not to mention a decade’s-worth of Reagan-era innocence, where a man’s greatest vice was wearing his sunglasses at night. And when all else fails, there’s always Journey. Because there is nothing wrong with Journey. Ever. And so my kids and I can road trip on this summer, accompanied by tunes we can all appreciate, without any talk of b—-s or pop-induced traffic accidents.
As for my collection of ’90s hip-hop and gangta rap? It’ll just have to chill, ’til the next episode.
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