With this song, Britney did the only thing she knows how to do anymore—shock people with her over-sexualized content. It’s actually very helpful for me when she does this, because it gives me a perfect example in my parenting workshops of what the
Poor Britney learned a long time ago that people pay more attention to her when she is naughty. Britney has sold herself out to her sexual appeal and behavior, so that’s what people value – and expect – from her. Maybe that’s why she sings lyrics like this:
hit the #1 spot for one week…and then disappeared. Similarly, Britney’s racy music video for
spiked to the top of iTunes later in the year…and then dropped back down just as quickly as it arrived.
Born Cameron Jibril Thomaz, this young rapper, who goes by the stage name Wiz Khalifa is a newcomer to the charts in 2011, with
, a catchy rap groove that rose to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in mid-February for one week (Feb. 13-19). After his run at the top, the Pittsburgh Steelers adopted the song as its fight song since their colors are also black and yellow. Khalifa, who finally settled in Pittsburgh after being born in North Dakota, claims that the song is a tribute to his adopted hometown (Pittsburgh’s three sports franchises – the Pirates, Steelers and Penguins—all use black and yellow as their team colors). Perhaps the town of Pittsburgh should Google Khalifa’s lyrics and listen to the entire song… here’s just a snippet:
In addition to bragging about his “bitches” and his bling, Khalifa, seems to enjoy smoking weed, or at least, that’s a central theme in his music. His album
on the Hot 100 charts, and #1 on iTunes for a few days. This song doesn’t hold back at all with its opening hook:
in North Carolina when the district attorney determined that the amount of marijuana seized on the bus did not exceed the 10-pound threshold for a trafficking charge. (Just how big of a duffle bag does it take to hold 10 pounds of weed?)
This makes sense why Khalifa might look at you confused if you ask him if he wants another hit.
I shouldn’t jest about his desire to sit around and smoke cannabis; maybe he was just born this way…
Born this Way (Lady Gaga)
Unless you were living under a rock – on another planet – you’ve heard Lady Gaga’s Born This Way.
For six weeks, Feb. 20 through April 2, this #1 song was like oxygen: everywhere.
YouTube views of the music video
soared into the millions, as did downloads on iTunes and other online retailers. In fact, demand for the digital copies even crashed servers
. This song was huge…and still is, even today.
This is another one of 2011’s songs we did an in-depth Youth Culture Window article on
, so I’ll limit my discussion here. But as the song’s message clearly shows, Born This Way
serves as a “career manifesto” for Gaga’s beliefs on sexuality (including homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism). This song has even given her multiple interactions with governmental leaders, including those in the White House
Lady Gaga is one of the biggest names in music. Though it was her only #1 song of the year, it wasn’t her only hit. She also released Judas
(another song we wrote a Youth Culture Window article
about), The Edge of Glory
, and as we write, Mary the Night
is peaking at #32 on Billboard’s Hot 100, with its video at the #1 spot on iTunes. All of these songs have been viewed many millions of times on YouTube. Additionally, Lady Gaga hosted this year’s MTV Video Music Awards.
Although some might find her bizarre, most people today find her inspiring. She is growingly becoming the #1 role model
for young people today. Forbes moved her to the top of the list
of the most powerful people in the entertainment business in 2011, toppling Oprah from her #1 spot.
So what is it that our young girls are learning from this role model? Did she capture the word’s attention with her voice? Or is she yet another example of the APA’s definition of sexualization
cited above, sprinkling in sexually-provocative material to spice it up? Gaga will answer that question for you, because she readily admits
to using these kinds of tactics:
“I was 19 and I was playing a show where I was supposed to debut all this new material. When I sat down to play I couldn’t get everyone to stop talking so I took off all my clothes. Works every time.”
Anyone who has seen Gaga perform has witnessed this “sexualization.” Gaga is an amazing singer and entertainer, but, to borrow from the APA’s definition, she continues to “value her sexual appeal and behavior” over other characteristics. Gaga is sexually objectified in most of her music videos… and our daughters are taking note.
But Lady Gaga isn’t the only lady influencing young girls this way today…
E.T. (Katy Perry, featuring Kanye West)
Although Perry didn’t know it at the time, this song was soon to become part of Hot 100 history.
was the fourth song from Perry’s album Teenage Dream
to hit the #1 spot on the Billboard charts. In August another song of hers from that album would go number one, making her “the first woman, and second artist overall following Michael Jackson…to send five songs from an album to No. 1
But don’t let me get ahead of myself.
rose to the #1 spot on April 3rd, and basically stayed there for five weeks, with a quick interruption from Rihanna’s song about sadomasochism (but again…I’m getting ahead of myself). Perry’s song grew in popularity even more with the release of the music video
, and she eventually performed this song with Kanye West on a tiny little TV show called American Idol.
My daughter Ashley talked about this song specifically
when she addressed a group of parents I was speaking to, citing the lyrics and their effect on young people today.
But we haven’t heard the last from this pastor’s daughter.
S&M (Rihanna, featuring Britney Spears)
I guess one thing we’re learning from these #1 songs is that sex still sells.
We don’t need to spend much time talking about this song that hinges on kinky sex. The lyrics are as follows:
'Cause I may be bad, but I'm perfectly good at it
Sex in the air, I don't care, I love the smell of it
Sticks and stones may break my bones
But chains and whips excite me
The song, which featured Britney Spears, went #1 for just one week. (De ja vue, Brit Brit?)
This isn’t the last we’ll see of Rihanna in 2011, though; she returns in November with a much deeper song that resonated with young girls especially
, and still remains at the top of the chart as we write this.
Rolling in the Deep (Adele)
She’s unlike almost every other female music superstar in America. Her first distinction is that she’s not even American. Adele’s amazing talent earned her instant passage across the Atlantic from Britain when Rolling in the Deep
was released in the Spring of 2011.
The song is all about lost love and the resentment it causes her to feel. Adele borrows a nautical illustration to clearly paint her pain: a ship out to sea “rolls in the deep” of the waves and storms around it. The song’s lyrics even reference “ships laid bare” and “depths of despair.”
The music video
provides further proof of her distinction: there are no back up dancers. More importantly, Adele is actually wearing clothes.
Unlike her female peers (on this list), Adele fronts her music, not her body. That’s refreshing (and strange, since she cites the Spice Girls as a major influence).
Reigning #1 for seven weeks, May 15 through July 2, Adele’s pain was the world’s gain. This song was huge then, and remains so half a year later. Her album, 21
, remains one of the most influential albums of the year. Adele just landed six 2012 Grammy nominations
including album of the year. Bruno Mars, also up for six Grammy’s, joked with CNN, “D*mn it, why am I up against Adele?!”
Rolling in the Deep
introduced us to a gal with an incredible voice, who could, in some ways, help fill the void caused by the untimely death of fellow Brit, Amy Winehouse. Simply put, Adele connects with today’s music listeners
If Rolling in the Deep
was her only hit of 2011, it would have been a stellar year for Adele. But this addictive new voice had another #1 song up her sleeve. And we wouldn’t have to wait very long for it.
to read the conclusion of this 2-part article. We wrap up the year’s remaining #1 songs and provide a few lessons that will help your teenagers make responsible listening choices in the future.
David R. Smith
is a 15-year youth ministry veteran who helps youth
workers and parents through his writing, training, and speaking. David specializes in sharing the
gospel, and equipping others do the same. He co-authored his first book this year,
Ministry By Teenagers
. David provides free
resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org
David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.