If you’ve become so numb to the proliferation of sexual language in pop music that you’ve just decided to bend over and take it, it may be time to think again. Four and five-year old kids belting out phrases like, “Hey, Sexy lady!” When did that start? When did that become okay? Sure, you might argue, the kids don’t understand half the things they’re saying. But you do. And it can get really uncomfortable when a kindergartener starts busting out some of these lyrics.

The following list isn’t an indictment of the pop stars who are on it. On the contrary, these are some of the best songs of the last few years… but they’re not for kids.

1.  Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F) – Katy Perry

Katy Perry is the undisputed queen of mixed messages.  Exactly who is her target audience? There isn’t a five-year old girl around who doesn’t know and love “Roar”, and granted, that’s a pretty catchy empowerment song (even if she did rip off Sara Bareilles’ “Brave”).  But “What About Last Friday Night?” is beyond inappropriate for that same demographic.  If you’ve had the unfortunate experience of playing Perry’s last album “Teenage Dream” with your kids around, you undoubtedly came across these lyrics:

Katy Perry Mint Dress - REDUCED

photo: Helga Esteb

“Barbie’s on the barbeque, Is this a hickie or a bruise?

Pictures of last night ended up online, I’m screwed,

Oh well, it’s a blacked out blur, but I’m pretty sure it ruled.

Damn!  Last Friday night, yeah, we danced on tabletops,

And we took too many shots, think we kissed but I forgot,

Last Friday night, we went streaking in the park,

Skinny dipping in the dark, then had a ménage à trois,

Last Friday night.”

2. Locked Out of Heaven – Bruno Mars

How do you criticize Bruno Mars? The guy has a voice like honey and he’s probably the hardest working man in show business. He’s likeable and he writes great hooks. And even this song is sweet in it’s own way. But it’s a song about sex, straight up, and I don’t need to hear my kid belting these lyrics out in the back seat:

Bruno Mars - S_Bukley - CROPPED

photo: S_Bukley

 “Open up your gates cause I can’t wait to see the light,

And right there is where I wanna stay
,

Cause your sex takes me to paradise
,

Yeah your sex takes me to paradise.”

3.  We Won’t Stop – Miley Cyrus

Miley’s a genius and “Bangerz” is the best album of all time. That’s obvious, right? Even so, her new material is not for kids. Luckily, this smash song hides the innuendo better than most, and kids probably won’t understand references like “Molly” or “trying to get a line in the bathroom”.  So it’s generally safe for them. But if you’ve got an eleven-year old who’s on the cusp of hearing about some of this stuff at school, you may want to skip over this one when it pops up on Pandora.

Miley - Reduced

photo: s_bukley

“To my home girls here with the big butt,

Shaking it like we at a strip club,

Remember only God can judge ya,

Forget the haters ’cause somebody loves ya.

And everyone in line in the bathroom,

Trying to get a line in the bathroom,

We all so turned up here,

Getting turned up, yeah, yeah

So la da di da di, we like to party

Dancing with Molly, doing whatever we want.”

4. Sexy And I Know It – LMFAO

In theory, this song is harmless fun. And it’s certainly had it’s time in the sun, so you could argue it’s not even relevant anymore. But like an incessant weed, it keeps coming back. You hear it all the time at kids’ parties, some parent throws it on to the party mix without thinking twice.  Don’t be that parent. Unless you think it’s cute for your 6 year old to walk around telling everyone “I’m Sexy And I Know It.”

LMFAO - Randy Miramontez - CROPPED

photo: Randy Miramontez

“When I walk in the spot, yea, this is what I see,

Everybody stops and they staring at me,

I got passion in my pants and I ain’t afraid to show it, show it, show it, show it

I’m sexy and I know it.”

5. Blurred Lines

There’s no doubt this is one of the catchiest, most original pop songs to come down the pike in a long time. There’s also no doubt that it’s borderline misogynistic, gloriously filthy, and filled with references to sex and drugs. Throw in the fact that Robin Thicke is the biggest douchebag in music and you’ve got the recipe for a song that your kids are better off without. Bonus: have you figured out what rhymes with hug me?

Robin Thicke - REDUCED

photo: Debby Wong

“What do they make dreams for,

When you got them jeans on,

What do we need steam for,

You the hottest bitch in this place,

I feel so lucky,

Hey, hey, hey,

You wanna hug me,

Hey, hey, hey,

What rhymes with hug me?

Hey, hey, hey.”

And if your kids are lucky enough to catch the unrated version, they’ll also get treated to this rap from  T.I.:

“One thing I ask of you,

Let me be the one you back that ass to,

Go, from Malibu, to Paris, boo,

Yeah, I had a bitch, but she ain’t bad as you,

So hit me up when you pass through,

I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two.”

6. Whistle – Flo Rida

Entertainment Weekly said it best when they described this song as the most clever single entendre of all time. Literally there is no entendre. It is entendre-less. Skipping all innuendo, Flo rida goes right for the obvious joke, about as in your face as saying “Let me put my weiner in your buns.” Hey, the song was a hit and it’s got a catchy hook. Just keep your children far away from it.

Flo Rida

photo: FlashStudio

“Go girl you can twerk it,

Let me see you whistle while you work it,

I’mma lay it back, don’t stop it,

‘Cause I love it how you drop it, drop it, drop it on me,

Now, shawty let that whistle blow-oh, oh oh,

Yeah, baby let that whistle blow-oh oh!

Can you blow my whistle baby, whistle baby

Let me know,

Girl I’m gonna show you how to do it and we start real slow,

You just put your lips together and you come real close,

Can you blow my whistle baby, whistle baby, Here we go.”

6. Timber – Pitbull and Ke$ha

This is a tricky one to call out, because just like Miley, clearly we are dealing with a genius at work in the form of Ke$ha.  Listening to her albums is like climbing inside a pinball machine and getting bounced around by the bumpers. She is a whirling dervish spewing dozens of glittering pop song confections and on some level you have to respect that.  While Lady Gaga and others seem to have fallen off, Ke$ha – actually, she recently dropped the dollar sign – Kesha – is still cranking out #1 hits.  And also like Miley, she’s up front about her songs being unsuitable for kids. Nonetheless, this team-up with pitbull is all over the radio and has its fair share of suggestive lyrics.

Pitbull REDUCED

photo: Nick Bieman

“The bigger they are, the harder they fall,Kesha 2

These big-iddy boys are dig-gidy dogs,

I have ’em like Miley Cyrus, clothes off,

Twerking in their bras and thongs, timber,

Face down, booty up, timber,

That’s the way we like to–what?–timber,

I’m slicker than an oil spill,

She say she won’t, but I bet she will, timber.”

8. Partition – Beyonce (Or Any Song From Her New Album)

These songs from Beyonce’s surprise new album are so up front about their sexuality that really no parent in their right mind would put them on during a car ride.  That said, she is included on this list just in case you weren’t aware of what Queen B was writing about lately.  She’s a long way from “All The Single Ladies”.  Here are lyrics from her new song, “Partition”.

Beyonce to crowd

photo: arvzdix

“Driver roll up the partition, please,

I don’t need you seeing ‘Yonce on her knees,

Now my mascara running, red lipstick smudged,

Yeah, he’s so horny he wants to f—,

He popped all my buttons and he ripped my blouse,

He Monica Lewinsky-ed all on my gown,

Oh Daddy, Daddy, he didn’t bring the towel,

Oh baby, baby, we better slow it down”

Over there I swear I saw them cameras flash,

Hand prints and footprints on my glass,

Hand prints and good grips on my ass.”

9. Gangam Style – Psy

Yeah, sure, it’s only one phrase, “Hey Sexy Lady”. But in some ways, it all started with this song.  Reportedly, North Korea has promised to give up all nuclear weapons if South Korea bans Psy from ever making another record.

Gangam Style - Debby Wong - CROPPED

photo: Debby Wong

10. Peacock – Katy Perry

If you know your audience is at least 50% little girls, do you have any obligation to clean up your act a little?  Whatever your thoughts on the issue, you should approach each Katy Perry album with caution before letting the kids listen. You never know when she’ll drop lyrics like this, from the song “Peacock” on her second album.

Katie Perry Purple Dazzle REDUCED

photo: Anton Oparin

“Are you brave enough to let me see your peacock?

Don’t be a chicken boy, stop acting like a bitch,

I’m a peace out if you don’t give me the pay off,

Come on baby let me see, what you’re hidin’ underneath,

Are you brave enough to let me see your peacock?

What you’re waiting for, it’s time for you to show it off,

Don’t be a shy kinda guy, I’ll bet it’s beautiful,

Come on baby let me see what you’re hidin’ underneath.

I wanna see your peacock, cock, cock, cock.”

Summary

Pop music has always pushed the boundaries, jumping over parents’ heads to speak directly to the kids. But in the old days, the ‘kids’ were teens. Lately, it seems like the audience for sexually charged pop music is getting younger and younger. Does a six year old boy really need to be saying, “Hey Sexy Lady” to his mom? Are we still in the realm of ‘cute’, or have we ventured into a new land called ‘mildly uncomfortable?’ If you lean towards the latter, and you hear something that makes you cringe, just press the ‘next’ button on your device and listen to “Let It Go” for the millionth time.

About The Author

Michael Berman

Husband and father of two who works as a professional writer, having sold screenplays to Sony, Disney, MGM and Showtime among others. Always on the look out for solid, useful information to share with other parents on Chilldad.com.

18 Responses

  1. Ishmael

    I am an orthodox Muslim, and the second Caliph of Islam said that if you are not aware of evil, you can become a victim of it. The parents of American Muslim children do not not what modern culture is doing to the souls of their children. Thanks for informing us. But, one can also become a victim of evil while knowing it if the evil is too seductive to destroy our own souls like a surgeon died after performing surgery on a patient of congo.

    Reply
  2. Jason

    Let me think here…”My Ding-A-Ling” by Chuck Berry, 1972, #1 Pop Hit, “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, 1985, #10 Pop Hit, “Like a Virgin” by Madonna, 1984, #1 Pop Hit, “Papa Don’t Preach” by Madonna, 1986, #1 Pop Hit, “Justify My Love” by Madonna, 1990, #1 Pop Hit, “Erotica” by Madonna, 1992, #3 Pop Hit, “Little Red Corvette” by Prince, 1982, #6 Pop Hit, “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince, 1984, #1 Pop Hit, “Raspberry Beret” by Prince, 1985, #2 Pop Hit, “Cream” by Prince, 1991, #1 Pop Hit, “I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You” by Leon Haywood, 1975, #15 Pop Hit, “Love to Love You Baby” by Donna Summer, 1975, #2 Pop Hit, “More, More, More” by Andrea True Connection, 1976, #4 Pop Hit, “Me So Horny” by Two Live Crew, 1989, #26 Pop Hit, “She Bop” by Cyndi Lauper, 1983, #3 Pop Hit, “Push It” by Salt-n-Pepa, 1987, #19 Pop Hit, “Wild Thing” by Tone Loc, 1988, #2 Pop Hit, “Hot Child in the City” by Nick Gilder, 1978, #1 Pop Hit, “Seventeen” by Winger, 1989, #26 Pop Hit, “Cherry Pie” by Warrant, 1990, #10 Pop Hit, the point is, I could go on and on here. There have always been songs about sex. The problem is American society. We are so psychologically dysfunctional when it comes to sex that we screw up each successive generation. Now violence…well that’s just fine, isn’t it? We can deal with murder and beatings, but show us a breast or penis, and whoa there. Poor Janet Jackson at the Superbowl Halftime performance. Oh but wait, we can’t actually deal with violence either. We have to have everyone looking young and physically fit because we don’t want to be reminded that we will one day die. If you’re over 40, you are invisible. Over 60? Forget about it. Sex in lyrics? Why that’s nothing. We can’t talk about sex in this country, but I suppose we’re better off than say…Iran? The bottom line is this: Your children only know what they’ve been exposed to. I have two daughters that don’t know much at all, first grade and second grade. That’s because we haven’t exposed them to much, and at school, they aren’t being exposed to much (yet). We don’t listen to the radio. We don’t watch commercial television. This is a new age, where we don’t have to be exposed to much unless we want to be. All the songs you mentioned don’t even register for my daughters. They’ve heard some of them, and they’re not memorable. Granted, we aren’t listening to any of them on repeat regularly. In fact, I have exposed them to other music that I think is important for them to hear. I don’t want them to be ignorant like their peers. I want them to know what came before today’s music. Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Bee Gees, R.E.M., U2, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, Hall & Oates, Howard Jones, Eddy Grant, Thompson Twins, Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Prince, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Radiohead, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, The Clash, Joy Division, New Order, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Temptations, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Seal, Metallica, Megadeth, Judas Priest, Scorpions, Def Leppard, Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, etc., etc., etc. They already know Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, but I want them to have more female images than that–Tina Turner, Annie Lennox, Tori Amos, Janis Ian, Joni Mitchell, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Imogen Heap, Aretha Franklin, and the list goes on. I blame the parents for not exposing their children to better, more interesting things. It starts at home.

    Reply
  3. Eleanor

    Okay okay y’all, as a mother of a 4yo who’s favorite song is Uptown Funk, I get where you’re coming from. But let’s get real for a minute: I’m sure all of us can remember taking cartrips with our parents and singing along to their cassette tapes. Indian Lake was a song about a camping trip. Let’s Get Drunk & Screw was a fun song about drinking soda and working in a tool shop. My was I shocked years later when I found out the true meaning! But that’s the fun of it! Keep the cus words and really raunchy stuff at bay and you’re good to go.

    Reply
    • Eleanor

      I meant Spirit In The Night, not Indian Lake. And you know, anything by The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, and Heart.

      Reply
    • Michael Berman
      Michael Berman

      Exactly, innuendo is what it’s all about. However, so many of today’s songs don’t have the irony or nuances of some of those older tunes you mentioned. It’s the same with the best animated movies for kids – how often have you heard people say they love Pixar movies because 1/2 the jokes are for the adults and go over the kids’ heads? When you create a piece of art that is going to be heard or seen by kids and parents alike, and you know it, the talented artist uses clever wordplay to slide some messages, jokes and winks to the parents, without the kids every really catching on. That is my favorite style of music and movies, at least. Straightforward crass talk without the cleverness is just lazy, to me. Even if the songs are catchy, I will always have more respect for the musicians who infuse their lyrics with clever wordplay and subtext — I didn’t know Brown Sugar was about heroin until I was in mid-teens. You’ve made me want to go back and listen to some Heart by the way – – it’s been too long. : ) Thanks for the comments!

      Reply
      • PniB

        Besides, there is so much amazing older music that is not about sex, in any way, that I don’t understand why parents would ever have a hard time finding good music to play while kids are still young. For a day camp to be playing sexy lady, and I’m in love with your body, etc, is beyond me, which is exactly what I found today when dropping off my 6 year old daughter. It baffles me and upsets me. Why do kids need to be encouraged to focus on all the wrong things, that won’t make them happier but possibly may make them very unhappy later on, like thinking that any of their physical attributes is what matters or gives them value in any way!! They need to be taught that they are strong, capable, kind and resilient human beings, and that who they are inside, which is reflected in their actions, is what really matters and can bring them more enduring contentment. Sex is great, but I really think that the predominant message female pop stars ( and males ) are sending to our daughters is that a good part of their power stems from their sexuality and their hyper sexualizing ways of dressing. Quite a few of them are moms, and I really don’t understand that.

  4. Isabelle

    The interesting part of this is that the most frequently singled out lyrics are ‘Hey, Sexy Lady’ – the most innocent of this list. The sad part is that these are songs played everywhere, everyday. On the radio is easily the most likely, and not in your car. I’d rather hear my eight-year-old belting ‘Heeeeeeeeeey! Sexy lady!’ or ‘It’s going down, I’m yelling timber!’ than ‘Your sex takes me to pa-ra-dise’ or ‘We’re higher than a motherf****r’. Kids don’t pick up on the innuendos or care about the raps because, in my experience, they don’t get it yet. On the popular Wii dancing game series, Just Dance, edited versions of several raunchier songs are dance to by children of all age groups, such as Nicki Minaj’s ‘Starships’ and ‘Pound the Alarm’ or Kesha’s ‘C’mon’ Not exactly kid-appropriate material, even with swear words edited out.Let them come back in five, ten years and gasp at the new realizations. But for now, in a world where sex is common place and sexy means nothing more to most people than attractive, I wouldn’t consider several of these songs inappropriate. But parenting is a very individual experience, so don’t take my word with anything more than a grain of salt.

    Reply
    • Michael Berman
      Michael Berman

      I hear you on “Sexy Lady” being the most innocuous of the lyrics listed here; however at the time when the song was huge, it was a little disconcerting to hear it coming out of the mouths of babes. To further your point, though, a reader down below mentioned that the entire song Gangam Style is actually making fun of a certain crowd in Korea who acts like that, and Psy was mocking them!

      Reply
  5. Jessica

    What about Rihanna B**ch Better have my money my daughter singing that song everywhere! She even says the cuss word I tell her to say girl better have my money but she won’t listen! Someone please help!

    Reply
  6. Priya Bansal

    Gangam Style is in no way about sex. It’s making fun of men who are from a rich district in Seoul who think they are incredibly attractive to women.

    Reply
    • Michael Berman
      Michael Berman

      Good point, however just because it’s satire doesn’t mean you want your kids saying “Hey, Sexy Lady…” to the checkout clerk at Target.

      Reply
  7. JacobT

    I am a music performance student, and we take lots of classes on the history of music and such. I learned about the true meaning of “Jailhouse Rock.” It’s about a bunch of prison (male) inmates having a party in prison, right? Well, that and much more. The lines “Number forty-seven said to number three
    You’re the cutest jailbird I ever did see
    I sure would be delighted with your company” should add a bit of insight.
    Also, let’s not be afraid to consider “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” by the Shirelles…a song about a one night stand!

    Reply
  8. mark

    In my opinion i think dirty popsongs are something of all time. As i remember correctly i had a favorite song, when i was a child, that was from Duran Duran called the Reflex, Isnt that song very dirty aswell? Also when you go a bit futher in time with Lola from the kinks, thats what my parents use too dance on. And offcourse you have madonna, like a virgin, and that song Wild Thing from The Troggs. These songs were popular at those days, so they get on the radio, from there its impossible to protect your childeren from it, because you hear it all day long.

    Reply
    • Michael Berman
      Michael Berman

      Wait… how is The Reflex dirty? Loved Duran Duran as well and still do. They’re a timeless band and I get a kick out of hearing my daughter sing along to Rio, even in 2016! But the point is that kids could sing along to The Reflex, and if there was subtext, they wouldn’t pick up on it. At least I sure didn’t.

      Reply
      • mark

        Well first of all, its a song that i listen, when i was 8 years young, so back then i had really no clue, untill i grew older and i realize the lyrics are a bit mysterious. When you hear the lyrics you can interpretate with different meanings, where Duran Duran never explained what the song trully ment. So this is a bit of my version what those riddles could mean

        First of all may be it’s a little crass – but I always thought “reflex” was just another word for “boner”.

        So why don’t you use it? – Come on girl, take it.
        Try not to bruise it – But be gentle with it.
        Buy time don’t lose it – And hurry up before I lose it.

        The reflex is an only child he’s waiting in the park – He’s always ready and willing.
        The reflex is in charge of finding treasure in the dark – Treasure in the dark = Female anatomy.
        And watching over lucky clover isn’t that bizarre – Lucky clover = Female anatomy carpeting.
        Every little thing the reflex does leaves you answered with a question mark. Sex confuses everything.

        Just my interpretation.

  9. Christina

    Celebrities grow and change, just like every single other person, they may be aiming for an older demographic but it catches on with young kids, how is that a calculated decision that they should be held accountable and change for? One of the first hits Katy Perry had was a song about a sort of lesbian encounter so the parents of her fans should have taken that into consideration before letting these young girls continue to be fans. It is their call after all right? I was in early elementary school when I started hearing pop songs from the radio with more than innuendo on the school bus and liking them. I just didn’t understand what they actually meant until I was older. Steve C. mentioned the Spice Girls, they had one song about sex in particular that even mentioned condom usuage my, at that time under 10 years old, cousins loved it and all the scantily clad dolls as well. I am 32 now and can think of lots of ways this hasn’t really changed oh so much. Increase in access to media has changed, one fm car radio and music video channel a kid didn’t usually get to control in the first place compared to all the things that instantly play music, videos, games, etc that younger and younger children are getting access to is a major contributor.
    In the end it is 100% the parents responsibility to decide what music their child listens to, especially in front of them. Not wanting your own children to hear these and informing other parents about the lyrics for them to decide is helpful. To ask them not to be “that parent” or tell them they can’t be in their right mind to keep that on the radio is really a bit judgemental and uncalled for though, disagreeing over something like this does not change the quality of the parenting. If a 6 yr old does somehow hear a lyric then repeats it, it is also their parents responsibility to explain to the child that it was inappropriate to say so it doesn’t happen again.

    Reply
  10. Steve C.

    Not only did “Blurred Lines” have sex, something that we didn’t really pay attention top, but the long standing big deal is the correct accusation by the late Marvin Gaye’s estate (kinda rhymes, don’t it?) of plagirism of Marv’s own ’77 “Got to Give it Up”, but at least Mr.Thickle’s “Blurred LInes” title’s correct, ain’t it?

    I’ll also put in for old times sake, some of the Spice Girls songs like Wannabe in the 1990s and go back 25 years still for Chuck Berry’s My Ding-a-ling and in 1969 Billy Joe Royal’s “Cherry Hill Park” (Wait till you hear what “Mary Hill” did THERE!)

    Reply

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