(Photo by Jess Sanchez)
By Zelda Dominguez
Have you ever thought about how our brains work and why we remember songs we learned in elementary school? Today, we still use songs to teach children things in school. The fact of the matter is repetition, rhyme and rhythm are ways our brains remember things. Why would memories of boy band songs from middle school take priority over academic material from college?
The answer is the power of the brain. We actually remember more from our childhood or teen years due to the brain’s enhanced plasticity in our youth. Studies suggest this is, in part, due to a substance called NR2B in the brain: more abundant in our early years.
Did you know the neurons in one human brain can hold about two petabytes of data — the equivalent of 300 years of continuous television recording on your DVR. Bear in mind that most of us have the lyrics to hundreds if not thousands of songs stored in our brains. Interesting enough, like a computer our brains hold whatever kind of information we put in it, both positive and negative.
Recently, I happened to come across Kidz Bop. It’s an album compilation of children singing current songs with the brand touting themselves as being “by kids, for kids.” They were developed in 2001, and I’m blown away I’ve never heard of it. These CD’s are composed of popular songs that rank high on the Billboard charts or receive heavy airplay from hit radio stations.
So why do I bring this up? I was taken back as I heard some of these songs and wondered how could they be marketed as kid-friendly music. Are these parents asleep when buying these CD’s for their children? It’s become a multi-million dollar business with their music, live tours, merchandise and videos. Tweens and even children as young as five years old are listening and singing to these same songs: repackaged and redistributed to this demographic.
Remember what I mentioned about the capability of our brains to store information? Why would I want kids to sing those lyrics or be influenced by explicit subject matter? You be the judge. Here are some examples of songs on these albums.
Some songs have been edited and others lyrics remain the same.
- J-Lo’s “I’m Real” — “I’ve met so many men and it’s like they’re all the same / My appetite for loving is now my hunger pain.”
- Meghan Trainor’s “All about that Bass” — “It’s pretty clear / I ain’t no size two / but I can shake it shake it / like I’m supposed to do / ‘Cause I got those dance moves that all the boys chase / All the right moves in all the right places.”
- Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” — “So get in the car we can ride it / wherever you want, get inside it / And you want to steer but I’m shifting gears.”
- Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out” — “And if you leave here / you leave me broken and shattered / I’m just a cross hair / I’m just a shot then we can die / I know I won’t be leaving here with you / … / take me out.”
- Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel” — “Got to whisper ‘cause my girls in the next room / Sometimes I wish it was you / Funny that you’re calling me tonight / I dreamt of you too / I don’t think she has a clue.”
- Britney Spears’ “Toxic” — “There’s no escape I can’t wait / I need a hit, baby give me it / You’re dangerous I’m losing it / Too high, can’t come down / losing my head spinning round and round / Do you feel me now?”
- Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” — “I just met you / and this is crazy / but here’s my number / so call me maybe.”
Kidz Bop sometimes has an adult sing certain parts to lessen the discomfort of hearing kids saying adult subject matter. Does that make it any more age appropriate?
Isn’t it interesting how we can clearly see something not beneficial or even possibly negative and yet not see ourselves being affected by it? Let’s ask ourselves: what are we listening to? Be conscious of lyrics and the message they send. What are we storing in our minds, and how is it impacting us?
“So be careful how you act; these are difficult days. Don’t be fools; be wise: make the most of every opportunity you have for doing good. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to find out and do whatever the Lord wants you to. (Ephesians 5:15-17 NLT)