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The #1 Hits of 2010
The Music and Messages of This Year’s Top Songs
An article from Jonathan McKee and David R. Smith at TheSource4YM.com
12/17/2010

“With the plethora of media options available today, it is possible to access the latest news or the most popular song almost anywhere and anytime, yet it is also possible to be inundated by unwanted messages and material. Media content responds to demand and is a reflection of culture, but it also contributes to it.” (The American Psychological Association)


The Love of Music
According to Kaiser Family Foundation’s ongoing study of media in kids’ lives, music is their fastest growing form of entertainment media. On average kids listen to 2 hours and 19 minutes of music every day.

That’s a lot of music!

It’s also a lot of message…because every song has one.

At TheSource4YM.com we take music seriously, mainly because teenagers take music seriously. Each year we review the biggest songs of the year in an annual survey of the Billboard Hot 100’s #1 hits of the year—and if there’s any name that’s synonymous with music popularity, it’s Billboard. Every week of every year, it charts the most popular and most played songs in America, across every genre of music.

As of this writing, there have been 17 different songs at the helm of the Hot 100. In this article, you’ll find a chronological review of these 17 songs (recorded by date because a few of them went to the top, then dropped down, and then went back to the top again).

For each song we’ll talk about the artist as well as the song’s message and possible influence on teenagers. We’ll also provide a few of the song’s lyrics and link the music video, where available. And since this year’s biggest songs echo some interesting themes, we’ll share a few “big picture” thoughts at the end.

Fair warning: there’s a lot in this article. But I encourage you to take it all in, because the kids we love already have.

Here goes….


“Tik Tok” (Ke$ha)
David’s 2 Cents

At the time of last year’s writing, 13 songs had risen to the top of the Hot 100 chart. Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” grabbed the #1 spot on December 27, 2009, bringing that total to 14 #1 hits for 2009.

Ke$ha would ring in the New Year in style and power; this song spent nine weeks at the top, reigning all the way into March 2010.

This song is basically about a night out on the town: lots of alcohol, lots of guys, lots of dancing. Take a look:

    Wake up in the morning feeling like P Diddy
    (Hey, what up girl?)
    Grab my glasses, I'm out the door, I'm gonna hit this city
    (Let’s go)
    Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack
    'Cause when I leave for the night, I ain't coming back

Then later in the evening…er…song:

    Ain't got a care in world, but got plenty of beer
    Ain't got no money in my pocket, but I'm already here
    And now, the dudes are lining up ‘cause they hear we got swagger
    But we kick ‘em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger
    I'm talking about everybody getting crunk, crunk
    Boys tryin' to touch my junk, junk
    Gonna smack him if he getting too drunk, drunk

Her music video is fairly tame (compared to what you’ll encounter later in the year/article). This song was likely played at every dance party so far this year. Hey, like she sings: “The party don't start 'til I walk in.”

But time was up for “Tik Tok” in March when the undisputed rulers of 2009 reclaimed the #1 spot…


“Imma Be” (Black Eyed Peas)
David’s 2 Cents

Starting March 6 the group that reigned at the top of the Hot 100 for literally half of 2009 bounced back with “Imma Be,” a ditty about the group’s “greatness.” It doesn’t take long for the tune’s single message to be revealed: the Black Eyed Peas will be the greatest…forever.

In fact, the music video (which takes advantage of Fergie’s “assets,” of course) starts with a vignette of lead singer Will.I.Am informing the band that he has a machine that will propel them into the year 3000. In the midst of their bragging, they sneak in lyrics needlessly employing sex and expletives. Jonathan went into great detail about this song and its lyrics in one of his blogs, linking a video of three young girls performing this song. One watch of that video and you’ll quickly realize that many of our kids do know the lyrics.

“Imma Be” became “Imma Was” after just two weeks in the top slot to make room for…


“Break Your Heart” (Taio Cruz featuring Ludacris)
David’s 2 Cents

Taio Cruz broke the Black Eyed Peas’ collective heart when his single stole the top spot the week of March 20. But “Break Your Heart” could only manage to stay there a week, too.

And that’s a good thing. Lemme explain.

Hearts get broken all the time. But I’ve never seen heartache as…ummm…celebrated as it is in Cruz’s “Break Your Heart.” (He and his girlfriend actually make a bet out of breaking each others’ hearts.)

Sad.

My opinion aside, when this song hit Billboard’s radar, it opened at #53..and a mere seven days later, it had rocketed to the top spot. That big a jump in that short a time actually set a Billboard record. (During its heyday, it also ranked #1 on iTunes’ most downloaded songs.)

I wrote an entire article on this song when it came out; you can read it to get a glimpse of the arrogance and stoic nonchalance that Cruz evidently believes goes hand-in-hand with romance.

Cruz is simply another artist who believes loving relationships are nothing more than games to play.


“Rude Boy” (Rihanna)
David’s 2 Cents

After Rihanna suffered domestic violence at the hands of Chris Brown last year, I found myself in her corner, perhaps out of sympathy. But when “Rude Boy” was released this year, my compassion for Rihanna ran out.

The lyrics construct a message I just can’t support.

    Come on rude boy, boy
    Can you get it up
    Come here rude boy, boy
    Is you big enough
    Take it, take it
    Baby, baby
    Take it, take it
    Love me, love me
    Tonight
    Imma let you be the captain
    Tonight
    Imma let you do your thing, yeah
    Tonight
    Imma let you be a rider
    Giddy up
    Giddy up
    Giddy up, babe

Hmmm…I wonder what she’s talking about.

The rest of the lyrics will help you figure it out for sure…just in case you need another clue. Unfortunately the music video is nothing but a fixation on Rihanna’s rear end. She breaks out every skin-tight pair of pants she owns then writhes in front of the camera as it zooms in at opportune moments. Is this really surprising? No. The APA Report on the sexualization of young girls quoted above reveals, “44%–81% of music videos contain sexual imagery. Sexually objectifying images of women constitute a large portion of this sexual content.”

But what do you expect from a song that comes from an album titled Rated R?

This tune spent a whopping five weeks at the top of the charts. And “Rude Boy” doesn’t represent Rihanna’s sole appearance on this list.

Fortunately, the next #1 song has a much cleaner message…


“Nothin’ on You” (B.o.B)
Jonathan’s 2 Cents

B.o.B had a good year in 2010, what with a trio songs in the top-10: “Nothin’ on You” (featuring Bruno Mars), “Airplanes” (featuring Haley Williams), and “Magic” (featuring Rivers Cuomo). (But notice the common denominator happening here; is B.o.B’s “strength” who he features on a song? In other words, will we ever see B.o.B hit the top-10 on his own?)

“Nothin’ on You” rode the top spot for two weeks, starting the week of May 1. The song’s opening lyrics tell the whole story:

    beautiful girls all over the world
    i could be chasing but my time would be wasted
    they got nothin' on you baby

Not a bad message. I’m all for a monogamous approach. But later in the song we learn a little more about what’s on B.o.B’s mind:

    hands down there will never be another one
    i been around and i never seen another one
    look at your style i ain't really got nothin' on
    and you wild when you ain't got nothing on
    baby you the whole package plus you pay your taxes
    and you keep it real while them other stay plastic
    you're my wonder women call me mr. fantastic

Not quite Shakespeare, is he?

The charts are all about timing. B.o.B’s “Airplanes” got more airplay, hit more charts, and stayed on them longer than “Nothin’ on You,” but “Airplanes” peaked only at #2 because it was pushed down a rung by Usher’s “OMG,” Eminem’s “Not Afraid,” and eventually Katy Perry’s “California Gurls.”


“OMG” (Usher)
Jonathan’s 2 Cents

That’s exactly what I uttered when this song actually became popular!

This song fooled me. I’m usually pretty decent at predicting which songs will make it big. When I first saw Usher perform this on American Idol, I turned to my wife and said, “That song will never make it.”

I was wrong.

“OMG” first hit the chart on May 15 and lasted three weeks, with a little interruption in the middle from Eminem.

Usher frequently sings about the club scene (e.g., hits such as “Yeah” or “Let’s Make Love in the Club”). “OMG” is yet another glimpse into the club scene from Justin Bieber’s role model. I’ll let you judge the lyrical content, but here’s a sample:

    I fell in love with shawty when I seen her on the dance floor
    She was dancing sexy, pop, pop, popping, dropping, dropping low
    Never ever has a lady hit me on the first sight
    This was something special; this was just like dynamite
    Honey got a booty like pow, pow, pow
    Honey got some boobies like wow, oh wow

Sigh. Need I say more?


“Not Afraid” (Eminem)
Jonathan’s 2 Cents

Eminem is an interesting artist. I say artist because I believe Eminem actually has a gift. He’s intelligent, he’s real, and he has always managed to generate a pretty good sound.

Unfortunately, that talent is neck deep in obscenities, objectifying women, and an attitude of hate commonly expressed through descriptions of violence in his songs as well as verbal attacks against anyone he disagrees with.

“Not Afraid” hit the top spot for one week in May right in the middle of “OMG”’s four-week reign. Frankly “Not Afraid” possesses way more depth than “OMG” could ever approach—not even in the same universe.

In this song Eminem connects with listeners, identifying with the storms they will face in life and imploring them to walk the road together:

    I’m not afraid to take a stand
    Everybody come take my hand
    We’ll walk this road together, through the storm
    Whatever weather, cold or warm
    Just let you know that, you’re not alone
    Holla if you feel that you’ve been down the same road

Eminem goes on to express that he can’t continue the way he’s been living. He wants to clean up and maybe come back “brand new.” These lyrics are a little bittersweet, mixed with attitude and Eminem’s typical obscenities—but overall not a bad song.


“California Gurls” (Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg)
Jonathan’s 2 Cents

On June 19, Perry’s “California Gurls” began its six-week reign on the Hot 100. The song also hit #1 on the Pop Songs chart, Digital Songs chart, and Ringtones chart. The audio and video were #1 on iTunes as well.

To get the complete gist of “California Gurls,” you have to sample the music video (where she ends up naked, laying on a cloud) or watch her perform it live. The lyrics themselves are mildly suggestive, but combine her “melt your popsicle” line with her oral-sex gesture, and the song’s intent is clear. Maybe that’s why Entertainment Weekly refers to her live MTV performance as a “raunchified rendition (check the hand motions!) of the new official song of the summer.”

This song was so popular that we decided to write a Music Discussion using the song as a springboard for a talk about “The World and Its Desires.” This discussion provides both Scripture and small group questions.

We’ve discussed Perry in-depth in past Youth Culture Window articles (like this one). She’s probably my vote for the worst influence on teenagers in 2010 (and that’s saying a lot, considering her greatest competition: Miley). More on Perry later when we talk about her song “Teenage Dream” from the same album.


“Love the Way You Lie” (Eminem featuring Rihanna)
Jonathan’s 2 Cents

Eminem is back, this time with a little help from Rihanna with the song “Love the Way You Lie.”

And it proves, once again, Eminem’s skill for delivering lyrics that his audience can identify with. The lyrics themselves don’t tell the story half as well as the music video, however, which has…get this…234 million views on YouTube alone as of this writing. You might want to take a look at this video—your kids most likely have.

The song tells a story of love, frustration, and pain. I usually don’t post this lengthy of a section of lyrics…but take a peek at this amazing imagery from Eminem:

    You ever love somebody so much
    You can barely breathe
    When you're with them
    You meet
    And neither one of you
    Even know what hit 'em
    Got that warm fuzzy feeling
    Yeah them chills
    Used to get 'em
    Now you're getting f**king sick
    Of looking at 'em
    You swore you've never hit 'em
    Never do nothing to hurt 'em
    Now you're in each other's face
    Spewing venom
    And these words
    When you spit 'em
    You push
    Pull each other's hair
    Scratch, claw, bit 'em
    Throw 'em down
    Pin 'em
    So lost in the moments
    When you're in 'em
    It's the rage that took over
    It controls you both
    So they say it's best
    To go your separate ways
    Guess that they don't know ya
    Cause today
    That was yesterday
    Yesterday is over
    It's a different day
    Sound like broken records
    Playin' over
    But you promised her
    Next time you'll show restraint
    You don't get another chance
    Life is no Nintendo game
    But you lied again
    Now you get to watch her leave
    Out the window
    Guess that's why they call it window pane

Eminem goes on to become more violent in the song and video, talking about things that many feel but few express.

The message kids hear from the song and video might vary:

  • This kind of hitting and fighting is normal among couples.
  • The pain is well worth the reward.
  • Violence in relationships is excusable.

Whatever the message…234 million people have viewed it! And the song stayed in the number-one spot for seven weeks.

I’m torn by this kind of song. On one hand, it’s irresponsible because young people with their undeveloped brains are taking in this message and cementing wrong ideas about relationships. On the other hand, Eminem doesn’t seem to be gratuitous or selling out…he seems to be expressing an authentic point of view that we (adults) need to recognize.

What do you make of this song? Feel free to use our comment feature below.


“Teenage Dream” (Katy Perry)
Jonathan’s 2 Cents

The title track of Perry’s hit album seems a clear reflection of the mindset of the majority of today’s teenagers. Unfortunately for those young people still figuring it out, the song is also likely helping them to “live for the moment.”

The song hit #1 on September 18 and stayed there for two weeks. The song and video both hit #1 on iTunes as well. Take a peek at the lyrics:

    Let's go all the way tonight
    No regrets, just love
    We can dance until we die
    You and I
    We'll be young forever

    You make me
    Feel like
    I'm living a teenage dream
    The way you turn me on
    I can't sleep
    Let's run away
    And don't ever look back
    Don't ever look back

Is this a healthy message for kids? Let’s look a little further:

    We drove to Cali
    And got drunk on the beach
    Got a motel and
    Built a fort out of sheets
    I finally found you
    My missing puzzle piece
    I'm complete
    Let's go all the way tonight…

Then later she continues with:
    Let you put your hands on me
    In my skin-tight jeans…

The lyrics are actually quite tame compared to the video. For the last few months I’ve been showing just 20 seconds of the music video at my parenting workshops. I point out that iTunes doesn’t have any disclaimers regarding the video at all—it deems the video clean. Then I show parents a snippet of the video starting at about two minutes into it. (I warn you—this is really racy stuff.)

What messages do you suppose kids are getting from this song and video?


“Just the Way You Are” (Bruno Mars)
Jonathan’s 2 Cents

On October 2, Mars rescued us from Perry, grabbing the #1 spot and riding it for four weeks.

In a world where girls constantly feel as though they don’t measure up, here’s a song that says, “Girl, you’re amazing just the way you are.” Take a peek:

    When I see your face, there's not a thing that I would change
    Cause you're amazing, just the way you are
    And when you smile, the whole world stops and stares for a while
    Because girl you're amazing, just the way you are (yeah)

The song not only is clean, it’s refreshingly simple and sweet. The music video is clean as well—an anomaly in today’s music videos.

The song is still maintaining its position in the top-10 on Billboard and iTunes as of this writing.


“Like a G6” (Far East Movement featuring the Cataracs)
Jonathan’s 2 Cents

The day before Halloween, “Like a G6” took the #1 spot and rode there for three weeks—albeit including a two-week interruption from Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R” and Rihanna’s “What’s My Name?”

The biggest question I keep hearing about this song is, “What does it mean?”

The answer really depends on the question. If you’re simply asking about the phrase in the tune, “feelin’ so fly like a G-6,” the answer is that it most likely refers to the $50 million private jet, the Gulfstream G650. Which makes sense that a passenger would feel “fly” (i.e., good) within its luxurious environs.

But if you asked me, “What does the song mean?” you’d get a different answer. The song is about drinking… a lot of drinking!

Check out the opening lyrics:

    Poppin’ bottles in the ice, like a blizzard
    When we drink we do it right, gettin’ slizzard
    Sippin’ sizzurp in my ride, like Three 6
    Now I’m feelin’ so fly like a G6

The song’s message seems very clear—and it gets even more specific:

    Gimme that Mo-Moet
    Gimme that Cry-Crystal
    Ladies love my style, at my table gettin’ wild
    Get them bottles poppin’, we get that drip and that drop
    Now give me 2 more bottles cuz you know it don’t stop
    Hell yeaa
    Drink it up, drink-drink it up…

The video reflects similar enthusiasms—partying and drinking.

The funny thing is that most adults deem the tune acceptable for young people to hear—after all, it’s doesn’t have “explicit” cuss words. My 12th-grade son says that the school plays this song on campus at lunch at least two times a day (he goes to a public school). This is the same school that asked me to chaperone a dance (my expose’ on that experience here) that didn’t allow drinking but nevertheless played this song and video (the DJ projected music videos on the wall during the whole dance). The lyrics repeat “drink it up, drink-drink it up!” while the administration says “don’t drink!”

It’s nice that adults are so consistent….


“We R Who We R” (Ke$ha)
David’s 2 Cents

Ke$ha’s back…and apparently ready for another night out on the town with her second #1 hit of 2010, “We R Who We R.”

In the grammatically challenged song (both title and lyrics), Ke$ha basically provides the masses with another dance club hit. Not only does it sound like “Tik Tok,” but the message is much the same.

Except this time, she drags Jesus into it.

    Hot and dangerous
    If you’re one of us, then roll with us
    ‘Cause we make the hipsters fall in love
    And we’ve got hot-pants on and up
    And yes of course we does we’re running this town just like a club
    And no, you don’t wanna mess with us
    Got Jesus on my necklace

    I’ve got that glitter on my eyes
    Stockings ripped all up the side
    Looking sick and sexy-fied
    So let’s go-o-o (Let’s go!)

At least she admits to being “sexy-fied.” As the song continues, Ke$ha makes her intent clear:

    We’re dancing like we’re dumb
    Our bodies go numb
    We’ll be forever young
    You know we’re superstars
    We R who we R!

    DJ turn it up
    It’s about damn time to live it up
    I’m so sick of being so serious
    It’s making my brain delirious!
    I’m just talkin’ truth
    I’m telling you ’bout the s*** we do
    We’re sellin’ our clothes, sleepin’ in cars
    Dressin’ it down, hittin’ on dudes (HARD!)

The rest of the lyrics don’t take interesting turns. The tune doesn’t have a matching video. (Maybe the record label knew this song didn’t have longevity…) As it turns out, “We R Who We R” could stay on top for only seven days—the week of November 13.

It would be replaced by another female singer also enjoying her second #1 song of the year…


“What’s My Name?” (Rihanna featuring Drake)
David’s 2 Cents

When “What’s My Name?” claimed the #1 position during the week of November 20, not only was it the second time she hit the top this year, but also it was the third time her name was part of a number-one tune this year (counting her earlier assist with Eminem on “Love the Way You Lie”).

Yep. 2010 has been a great year for Rihanna. (And she’s still not done yet.)

The music video for “What’s My Name?” isn’t nearly as racy as the “Rude Boy” video. But the lyrics make the point of the tune crystal clear. Here are just a few lines:

    Not everybody knows how to work my body
    knows how to make me want it
    but boy you stay up on it
    you got that something that keeps me so off balance
    baby you’re a challenge, let’s explore your talent

    hey boy I really wanna see if you can go downtown with a girl like me
    hey boy, I really wanna be with you
    cause your just my type
    ooh na na na na
    I need a boy to take it over
    looking for a girl to put you over, uh
    oooooh, oooooh

“What’s My Name?” lasted at the helm of the charts only for one week. Far East Movement and “Like a G6” would briefly regain the top spot after being interrupted earlier by Ke$ha and Rihanna. But “Like a G6” would only hold the position for seven more days, too.

Wanna guess who came back to the top…again?


“Only Girl (in the World)” (Rihanna)
David’s 2 Cents

Rihanna definitely has been a force to be reckoned with during 2010. “Only Girl” was her third #1 single of the year and put her name in the top spot for the fourth time (again, counting her duet with Eminem). This song captured the pinnacle the week after Thanksgiving.

And after watching the music video, I was thankful Rihanna was wearing clothes (and that the camera was pointed at the cheeks on her face…instead of her, um, other cheeks).

In “Only Girl,” Rihanna wants to feel what every girl wants to feel: special. Her chorus is simple:

    Want you to make me feel like I'm the only girl in the world
    Like I'm the only one that you'll ever love
    Like I'm the only one who knows your heart
    Only girl in the world...
    Like I'm the only one that's in command
    Cuz I'm the only one who understands how to make you feel like a man
    Want you to make me feel like I'm the only girl in the world
    Like I'm the only one that you'll ever love
    like I'm the only one who knows your heart
    Only one...

No one can fault her for wanting that from her significant other. But look at how Rihanna plans on gaining that affection. The song’s two verses make it clear:

    I want you to love me, like I'm a hot ride
    Keep thinkin' of me, doin' what you like
    So boy forget about the world cuz it's gon' be me and you tonight
    I wanna make your bed for ya, then imma make you swallow your pride

    Want you to take me like a thief in the night
    Hold me like a pillow, make me feel right
    Baby I'll tell you all my secrets that I'm keepin', you can come inside
    And when you enter, you ain't leavin', be my prisoner for the night

Again, the full lyrics are “clean” by cultural standards, but definitely not by biblical standards.

This song would rank #1 only for one week. When it was replaced by another popular female singer, believe it or not I found myself wishing Rihanna had a fifth #1 in her…


“Raise Your Glass” (Pink)
David’s 2 Cents

Pink has built herself a reputation for being an artist willing to get in your face and tell you what she thinks—even if it angers you. (TheSource4YM.com offers a MUSIC DISCUSSION about her song “So What.”)

If I were to describe her music, I’d pick adjectives such as passionate, aggressive, and maybe even inconsiderate. Rock is by far my favorite music genre, and Pink is definitely rock, but “Raise Your Glass” crosses a few too many lyrical lines for me.

For beginners, the music video features two dudes kissing each other…on the lips. Throughout the video, Pink keeps waking up next to religious leaders of all kinds, including a nun. (Both women have smiles on their faces, as a result.) In one scene, several women are having their breasts milked so a cow can drink from them. (I’m not making this stuff up!) Then there’s profanity in the lyrics spread around like the manure that it is. And finally, the whole song is about drinking (with plenty of images of alcohol to support the not-so-subtle message).

The gist of the song is that no matter who you are, what you do, or what you stand for, we can raise our glasses and drink together, because we’re all just “nitty gritty dirty little freaks.”

    So raise your glass if you are wrong,
    in all the right ways,
    all my underdogs,
    we will never be never be anything but loud
    and nitty gritty dirty little freaks
    won't you come on and come on and raise your glass,
    just come on and come on and raise your glass

Pink’s song only kept the top position for seven days— the week of December 11. She’d be bumped by yet another female singer who’s paid multiple visits to the top slot.


“Firework” (Katy Perry)
David’s 2 Cents

Wow! When I watch the music video for Firework, I almost want to say, “This is the first song by Katy Perry I actually like!”

Key word: almost.

The synopsis of the song is “let your light shine,” which is definitely a positive message for today’s kids. The video focuses on several real-life situations where the characters get a chance to shine their inner “firework.” One kid is a cancer patient; one kid breaks up domestic violence. One overweight girl shuns a pool party at first but then decides to jump in, regardless of what others may think. Another guy is jumped by street thugs, but he wows them with his talent for performing cool magic tricks.

Okay…lots of powerful, positive stuff. And all those scenes are set to Perry’s lyrics that talk about shining:

    You just gotta ignite the light
    And let it shine
    Just own the night
    Like the Fourth of July
    Cause baby you're a firework
    Come on show 'em what your worth
    Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
    As you shoot across the sky-y-y

    Baby you're a firework
    Come on let your colors burst
    Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
    You're gunna leave 'em fallin' down-own-own

There are more positive elements in this song than in any of her other #1 hits. But at the risk of sounding like “the guy who complains,” I gotta mention something that irked me. The song’s video shows two guys kissing. The frequency of girl on girl and guy on guy kissing in media is rapidly increasing. It’s a clear message of the homosexual agenda: “Being homosexual in public requires bravery and courage, but it’s worth it because we’ll be happy.”

I disagree. Strongly.

But I won’t let the one scene completely ruin the overall intent of Perry’s song. She’s encouraging people who listen to shine so their lives and others’ lives can be changed.

I just wish she and I agreed that the change would always be for the better.

* * *

The Big Picture
As promised we want to note a few “big picture” items that surfaced as I studied the year’s biggest songs. Here they are in no particular order.

  1. It was a BIG year for Rihanna….a very big year. Rihanna had a very public setback in early 2009 when her then-boyfriend Chris Brown was arrested and convicted of assaulting her. I doubt the full details of that night will ever come to light, but whatever happened has all but destroyed Brown’s career. It could have ended Rihanna’s career as well, but she seized several opportunities and catapulted herself back to the forefront. Unfortunately, she used her sexuality to do this. Sex sells… it always will.


  2. It was a BIG year for female artists. Look back over the list: Katy Perry had three songs at the top. Ke$ha had two. Rihanna’s name appeared four times. Female artists accounted for well over half of the #1 songs. If there were queens of music for 2010, these three women were just that.


  3. Music reflected life…in all its brokenness. Again, looking over the year’s music, we can see that several songs tell genuine stories about life. Granted, most tunes copped to your garden-variety unrealistic, superficial, pop-culture glibness, but a few of these tunes took life by the throat:

    • Taio Cruz’s “Break Your Heart” is about the prevalence of trampled emotions.
    • Eminem’s “Not Afraid” is about confronting life’s issues.
    • Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie” speaks to the disappointment that so often accompanies relationships.
    • Rihanna’s “Only Girl (in the World)” gives listeners a glimpse of what every female really wants.
    • Katy Perry’s “Firework” encourages hearers to shine their lights in the darkest of circumstances.

It’s important to note these kinds of messages and themes in today’s music, mainly because our kids are taking note of them (and even more subtle ones). So I encourage you to do all you can throughout the coming year to stay current on what the teenagers in your life are listening to.

And now that you’re all caught up on 2010’s biggest hits, why not go have a conversation with a teenager about one of life’s biggest influences…music. (We hope our free Music Discussions pages on both our youth ministry site and our parent site are a great resource to you.)




Jonathan McKee Jonathan McKee, president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over a dozen books including the new Get Your Teenager Talking, The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket, The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenager, and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers, Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation, and the 10-Minute Talks series. Jonathan speaks and trains at conferences, churches and events across North America, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan and his wife Lori, and their three teenagers Alec, Alyssa and Ashley live in California.



David R. Smith 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.



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Comments on this post

   Steve         1/2/2011 12:04:11 AM

I love the article, keep up the good writing.

   brian         12/23/2010 7:28:52 AM

great article as usual! thanks for such a great resource!

   dan mansn         12/21/2010 11:13:28 AM

thanks Jonathan for this in-depth article. Such a great resource for all people devoted to working with students. We have to be relevent if we want students to listen to us and, once again, you come through with a look into today's music culture and condense it down into an edible portion that any leader can digest.

   Stan McNabb         12/20/2010 11:43:33 AM

Wow! Lyrics do matter. My prayer would be that more parents would get involved with what their kids are listening to. Thanks guys.

   Greg         12/20/2010 12:15:07 AM

Wow! Thanks for doing the work for us.














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