Far too many of today’s songs advocate obscenity, premarital sex, illicit sex, drugs, the occult, even revolution. Most caring parents would be shocked if they knew what their children are being told to do, all to the sound of music.
Public and parental pressures, we are told, keep deviant films and books from impressionable children and young people. But no matter. Corrupting influences reach them anyway, by means of radio, live concerts, recorded music, available to any person, any age.
Consider the lyrics of a few popular hits. Remember, music is a powerful medium. It works on moods and emotions. It can stir to action as mere spoken word cannot do. Listen to these messages pumped into millions of eager young ears and ask yourself if these have anything to do with the rise in crime, the confused morals and consequent venereal diseases of so many young people:
“We don’t need no education, We don’t need no thought control,” is a defiant musical assertion followed by the demand that the teacher leave the kids alone.
Ask high school teachers if they are having an easy time teaching grammar to students these days, especially minority students. Why should it be easy when many songs the young people identify with make a special attempt to use poor grammar? Thus one piece of “soul” music insists: “I ain’t did nothin’ to you. I ain’t dumb, I ain’t stupid”!
Jesse Jackson, national known U.S. black civil rights leader, has seen the direct connection between certain popular music and how young people develop. He has contended that sons with suggestive lyrics are “one of the forces that stand between blacks and excellence.” The songs do have influence. Music is important to the formation of children’s attitudes because it’s such a big part of their culture.”
The same comments can be made for young people, or adults of any race, whether they listen to pop, soul, rock or country.
Anarchy in the U.K.,” which appeared a few years ago, boasted about being an anarchist. Its dominant theme is “I want to destroy.”
One piece of music highlights the following activities: “being kicked out of nearly every bar, spending time in jail for speeding through town, fighting with guns and knives, ‘messing around’ with another person’s wife, throwing one’s boss out of a window, getting fired, hot-wiring and taking a city truck on a joy ride, which ends by turning the truck over on the mayor’s lawn, and beating someone ‘haft to death.’
In “Lying in Love with You” the boy calls up to say he can’t work today because he’s ill. Actually he feels fine. In a play on words he says he is just lying – lying in bed with a lover.”
Today’s morally and financially impoverished educational systems are having a hard enough time instilling incentive and character in young people. Add the fact that most parents don’t properly communicate with their children and the fact that parents and teachers face the additional obstacle of competing with popular songs that openly advocate wrong values and you should have a clear picture of what is happening to young pliant minds.
Most conspicuous in the current wave of popular music is its glaring preoccupation with sex. “Turn off the lights/Let’s take a shower together,” one song urges because “there’s something I wanna do to you baby.” Another emphasizes that “if the price is right you can score.”
In one hit song a girl dials a hundred telephone numbers because she craves some “hot stuff tonight.” Another song of desire includes such phrases as “I can’t resist,” “lust begs,” “willpower disappears,” “feel the feel,” “a demon living deep inside,” “ecstasy lives but sanity dies.”
A few other titles should make it plain where the emphasis is: “I want You Tonight,” “I Can’t Stand It No More,” “Lovin, Touchin, Seqeezin,” “Love You Inside Out,” “You Feel Good All Over,” “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough.”
The magazine Human Behavior reported on the growing phenomenon of “porn” music. Among those quoted was Chaytor Mason who was a psychology professor at the University of Southern California, commented: “We have arrived at the plateau of blatant sex.” Parents could restrain the trend, but said Mason, “parents who have been having problems with their own sexuality are glad to hand over the responsibility to a musician.”
Before a record is put on the market the music industry conducts extensive tests to predict which songs will be the most profitable. One involved in testing teenage response to songs volunteered: “It doesn’t hurt to have some sexy words. The little girls and boys really go for sexy words.”
“You’ll ruin me/ Let me go now, baby, please do.” Words from a current hit? No. Words from an erotic song of the 16th century!
Not every song sung today is decadent or objectionable. Neither were all the songs sung in past ages wholesome and good. Far from it. In 1968 Jeremy Collier observed in A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English State: “Music is almost as dangerous as gun power; and it may be requires looking after no less than the press, or the mint. ‘Tis possible a public regulation might not be amiss.”
But there are some important differences between past ages and today. For one thing, we have the all-pervasive electronic media. Hundreds of years ago, the only ones hearing the bawdy song would be those in the immediate presence of the singer while he was singing. Children and young people probably wouldn’t be a part of the audience. Even if they did overhear the song, they couldn’t hear it again until the singer himself repeated it. That’s why in the 18thcentury William Cowper could remark, “A musician, the most skillful, can only divert himself and a few others.”
But that’s no longer the case. Now, thanks to recording and broadcasting technology, a song can be repeated ad nauseum. Not only that, but decadent music from a single musician can be heard by every child and young person in the land. All that is needed is access to radio or CD or DVD and television and the movies.
In this article we are discussing only the message of a song, its lyrics not the beat or volume at which it is performed. Still, any adults inclined to believe that it is only the music with today’s rock rhythm that is harmful have perhaps forgotten what sons of the pre-rock generation or the non-rock generation really says. For example, how many teenagers entered into disastrous marriage to the encouragement of the lyrics “They try to tell us we’re too young”?
Many songs were suggestive, but subtle enough that only some young listeners would catch the meaning. What once was “suggestive” has today become explicit. Music is an influential force. It not only can reflect moods and feelings, it can create them. Its ability to play on emotions and achieve psychological effects has long been employed by movie makers.
The spoken word by itself can, of course, stir feelings and passions. But when words are combined with music the effect can be profound, for decades radio and TV advertisers sold catchy jingles. Everything from deodorants to automobiles had an appropriate ditty that stuck in people’s minds, influencing their purchasing decisions.
Music has been used as a vehicle for patriotic or political messages. Nations have been rousted to war to the words of stirring songs.
Religious hymns and songs often promulgate false doctrines. Just because music is pleasing and inspiring does not mean the words are necessarily true. Yet people subconsciously accept as fact erroneous concepts about the Bible and Christianity merely because of the music to which the words are attached.
But we are mainly concerned here with the extensive amount of popular music that is sexually and unashamedly debasing.
Sex, of course, is a subject often discussed in popular music. Along with patriotism and religion, it has been a song-writing staple for centuries. Veiled allusions and double entendres were warbled in even the most conservative periods. Our ancestors knew what crooner meant when they sang of lips wet with dew and holding lovers closely. But never before, at least not since the cabaret torch songs of the Weimar Republic, have the lyrics of so many widely disseminated pop tunes been as raw (Human Behavior, July, 1976).
A Turkish proverb says, “As the music is, so are the people of the country.” Who is responsible for the large amount of degenerate music today? An executive of RCA Records observed: “These singers didn’t invent sex. It’s part of life. Singers are only expressing what people are doing all around us.”
People will listen to the messages that contain attitudes and beliefs they agree with. Is popular music reflective and representative of the society which nourishes it and of the changes in that society? Maybe so. But those in the lucrative recording and broadcasting industry cannot shove all the blame off on the public. After all, they are a part of the “public.” A vast army of promoters is hired by the multimillion dollar recording business. Their job is to “sell” hits.
A successful record producer confided, “A certain sound is pushed, and people get used to it and accept it, not because they want it, but because it’s there.”
It’s a cycle that feeds on itself. A song is released. It appeals to human nature and reflects the mixed-up way of life many are living. People buy the music and thus create a demand for more. And more is forthcoming because people in the business love one sound in particular, the jingle of coins and the rustle of bills flowing their way. That is music to their ears!
But let’s understand more deeply what is behind today’s wave of sensual music. Many chapters in the Bible, especially the Psalms, were songs written to be sung to musical accompaniment.
The ultimate source of good music is God Himself. It was He who put in His creatures the ability to produce and enjoy music. The first song there is any record of was joyfully sung by millions of angelic beings when God created the earth, perhaps millions of years ago (Job 38:4, 7).
Some of those very angelic beings who sang in celestial chorus later followed the archangel Lucifer in rebellion against the government of God. They became evil spirits or demons. Lucifer became Satan, because their nature was now fixed to do evil. Everything they did had become twisted and perverted. They deliberately chose to be evil.
Until the Messiah Jesus Christ comes to replace him, Satan is allowed to rule this world (II Cor. 4:4; Rev. 12; 9). He is called the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2) because he “broadcasts” his malicious moods and attitudes into human minds. It is particularly directed to stirring up in people the lust and desires of the flesh (v. 3). Satan’s wicked sway is partly responsible for all that is wrong in the world. That includes degenerate songs!
There can be no doubt that the current deluge of songs emphasizing self-gratification, promiscuous sex, rebellion and the acceptance of evil not only has Satan’s approval, but his active backing. There is no attempt to hide the satanic theme of some music (“Their Satanic Majesties Request,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Dancing with Mr. D.”). Symbols of the occult and devil worship often appear on album covers.
One famous singer who was making as much as $40,000 an hour quit in disgust because it was the “devils” work.” I didn’t realize I was working for the devil,” he stated, claiming that the music he was performing “clouds the senses and hypnotizes the brain.”
Another well-known singer who died of a drug overdose said music hypnotized people, “and when you get people at that weakest point you can preach into the subconscious what we want to say.” Still another performer admitted, “Our music is intended to broaden the generation gap, to alienate children from their parents, and to prepare people for the revolution.”
Someone is sure to ask: “isn’t the biblical Song of Solomon an erotic song?” The question brings up an interesting principle.
Some of the objectionable songs young people are exposed to today would not be objectionable in a different context. Even well-written lyrics concerning man-woman relations may be acceptable within a stable marriage situation, and yet be totally inappropriate when directed toward young people inclined to interpret the lyrics as encouraging premarital sex. The biblical Song of Solomon is one case in point, though there are current examples. The Song of Solomon could be considered objectionable erotic if presented to young people without the explanation that its theme is the relation between a bridegroom and his bride, not relations between adolescents or unmarried persons. An additional observation is that the Song of Solomon does not contain degenerate language.
The whole subject of what message music is carrying boils down to a question of responsible monitoring and guidance.
In the New World to come there will be music and singing. Lots of it. But it will all be edifying and uplifting. Language – spoken, written and sung will be purified (Zep. 3:9).
If it’s a shame to do something, it’s also a shame to accommodate it by talking, or singing about it (Eph. 5:11-12). Depressing, immoral, corrupt songs reflecting a decadent society will not be sung in tomorrow’s New World. Joyful songs instead will be heard celebrating God’s creation, happy marriages, clean boy-girl relations and everything good and worthwhile in life.
Singing will be so much a part of the harmonious and peaceful New World to come that the Bible paints the picture of the deserts and waste places (Isa. 35:2), the mountains and hills (55:2), and the heavens also (44:23) breaking forth with songs of gladness. “And the ransomed of the Lord shall come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy” (Isa. 35:10).