What Passes as Music Nowadays

Dads, protect your daughters from the evil that is Bieber

I love music. I listen to all genres and all styles (my iPod contains over 12,000 songs). Since I was a child, music has always been an important part of my life.

I can still remember the first album I bought – “Controversy” by Prince. In retrospect, no 11-year-old boy should have been listening to that record, but it fueled my appreciation of synth-pop, funk, and rock music.

While I would never play this album for my own children, I do like to expose them to the music of my youth.

Because of my efforts, my kids have become huge fans of 80s music, especially Michael Jackson. They constantly beg me to play “Beat It,” “Thriller,” and “Remember the Time.”

But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shield them of the prefabricated crap that passes for music today.

Like every parent before me, I despise this generations’ music. Compared to the Jonas Brothers, New Kids on the Block and N’Sync were musical geniuses. And don’t even get me started on Ke$ha or Lady GaGa.

It is with this backdrop that I attempted to buy my daughter some music for her 9th birthday. My challenge was to find something that was current, age-appropriate and not too insipid.

I spent about an hour listening to many of today’s popular artists on iTunes. I’m sure I lost several IQ points in the process. After that mind-numbing experience, I decided to visit the local music store to get some recommendations.

The clerk informed me that many tweens loved Justin Bieber. I had never heard of him, but I took her advice and purchased the CD because Usher produced it. When I got home, I listened to a few sample tracks from the CD and immediately regretted my decision. Thankfully, my daughter informed me that she was no Bieber fan. I praised God and rushed to the store to exchange the CD.

After scouring the CD racks several more times, I eventually settled on the following artists for the reasons described:

  • Christina DeBarge – I was a fan of her father’s group DeBarge
  • Taylor Swift – She has talent and is not entirely offensive, no matter what Kanye West might think
  • Jordin Sparks – My daughter liked her when she was a contestant on American Idol and her remake of Shannon’s “Let the Music Play” allowed me to share the original version with my daughter.

Much to my chagrin, my daughter’s aunt bought her a Miley Cyrus CD and now that stupid song, “Party in the USA” is stuck in my head.

A few days later, I walked into my daughter’s room while she was listening to her music and she asked, “Daddy, why don’t you listen to any cool music like Black Eyed Peas or Miley Cyrus?”

“Because I listen to music that is actually cool,” I said as I walked downstairs to listen to some Prince.

Stay Strong,

About the author
Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at fjgoodall@mochadad.com or on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/mochadad
  1. I agree that trying to find music that is appropriate for kids is challenging. My husband is the big music fan and decided that he was in charge of the kids’ musical “education” from an early age. This has resulted in a 14 year old daughter whose musical tastes range from Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Muddy Waters to Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash to The Rolling Stones to (currently) The Ramones, The White Stripes, and Green Day.

    Of course, I also live with 2 drum sets in my basement, one “good” set for the 14 year old (who takes lessons) and another set for the 11 and under crew who just rock out with Dad.

    I started to write that there is *some* Prince music that a 9 year old could listen to.. but then when I started to go through the mental list in my mind (I love Prince too).. I couldn’t think of any that I would like to hear coming out of my (11 year old) kids’ mouths! Never mind! (But I just spent an AWESOME 45 minutes listening to some old favorites.. so THANK YOU!!)

  2. I agree that trying to find music that is appropriate for kids is challenging. My husband is the big music fan and decided that he was in charge of the kids’ musical “education” from an early age. This has resulted in a 14 year old daughter whose musical tastes range from Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Muddy Waters to Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash to The Rolling Stones to (currently) The Ramones, The White Stripes, and Green Day.

    Of course, I also live with 2 drum sets in my basement, one “good” set for the 14 year old (who takes lessons) and another set for the 11 and under crew who just rock out with Dad.

    I started to write that there is *some* Prince music that a 9 year old could listen to.. but then when I started to go through the mental list in my mind (I love Prince too).. I couldn’t think of any that I would like to hear coming out of my (11 year old) kids’ mouths! Never mind! (But I just spent an AWESOME 45 minutes listening to some old favorites.. so THANK YOU!!)

  3. Both my boyfriend and I keep trying to run interference with our younger siblings, to make sure they don’t have crap taste in music. So far, he’s winning. While my little brothers and sisters listen primarily to 50 Cent (who I find pointlessly offensive) and popular country (which I insist is vastly inferior to country music from ten or twenty years ago), my boyfriend’s little sister is always begging to listen to U2 and the Beatles, which almost makes up for her Hannah Montana obsession.

    When I was a kid, I used to love to sneak my grandmother’s old records out of the closet. By the time I was eight, much to my parents’ chagrin, I knew every word to “Baby’s Got her Blue Jeans On.”
    .-= The Raisin Girl´s last blog ..Somebody’s been getting into mommy’s makeup =-.

    • Sorry I couldn’t leave the Country comment alone. Today’s Country is better than the beginning of Garth and the prime of George Strait? Those are just a couple off of the top of my head that in my opinion are head over heels better than what is produced today. So much of the country music today really is Pop. Lady A ( I love’em but it isn’t true Country), Taylor Swift, Rascal Flats (can’t stand them) and so on. These are considered some of the big hitters today. It’s not country. In my humble opinion. :)

      What Country music does still have are true songwriters that produce music from the heart. Even if the sound is different than 20 years ago the heart of it is still there.

      • My two cents…….In addition to heart I’d say a good portion of it also portrays values. I want my children to understand the value of faith, family and love. Alot of country talks about these things. While some of the other stuff is stuff you can moooove to, alot of the lyrics and concepts behind the music is questionable IMHO. While I may not have a problem with my 17 or 16 year old listening to it on their own. I definitely am not anxious for the 10 year old to be singing inappropriate stuff which he probably doesn’t understand or frankly doesn’t need to understand.

  4. Both my boyfriend and I keep trying to run interference with our younger siblings, to make sure they don’t have crap taste in music. So far, he’s winning. While my little brothers and sisters listen primarily to 50 Cent (who I find pointlessly offensive) and popular country (which I insist is vastly inferior to country music from ten or twenty years ago), my boyfriend’s little sister is always begging to listen to U2 and the Beatles, which almost makes up for her Hannah Montana obsession.

    When I was a kid, I used to love to sneak my grandmother’s old records out of the closet. By the time I was eight, much to my parents’ chagrin, I knew every word to “Baby’s Got her Blue Jeans On.”
    .-= The Raisin Girl´s last blog ..Somebody’s been getting into mommy’s makeup =-.

    • Sorry I couldn’t leave the Country comment alone. Today’s Country is better than the beginning of Garth and the prime of George Strait? Those are just a couple off of the top of my head that in my opinion are head over heels better than what is produced today. So much of the country music today really is Pop. Lady A ( I love’em but it isn’t true Country), Taylor Swift, Rascal Flats (can’t stand them) and so on. These are considered some of the big hitters today. It’s not country. In my humble opinion. :)

      What Country music does still have are true songwriters that produce music from the heart. Even if the sound is different than 20 years ago the heart of it is still there.

      • My two cents…….In addition to heart I’d say a good portion of it also portrays values. I want my children to understand the value of faith, family and love. Alot of country talks about these things. While some of the other stuff is stuff you can moooove to, alot of the lyrics and concepts behind the music is questionable IMHO. While I may not have a problem with my 17 or 16 year old listening to it on their own. I definitely am not anxious for the 10 year old to be singing inappropriate stuff which he probably doesn’t understand or frankly doesn’t need to understand.

  5. When my 3 year old was 18 months old I began scouring YouTube looking for videos of artist playing the guitar. He loved the guitar. This is when he became addicted to Johnny Cash and now Bruce Springstein has been added to that mix. I think introducing music (and not the kiddie crap) to kids at an early age is extremely important for development.

    I agree with you about much of the music produced to day. This is why I have stopped listening to POP music of today. Instead I listen The Current which is a Minnesota Public Radio Station that plays a variety of Indie, Local, and everything else. You will seriously hear everything from Johnny Cash to The Beastie Boys to Vampire Weekend (one of my new favorites). You can stream online. Check them out at mpr.org.

    Great post!!

  6. When my 3 year old was 18 months old I began scouring YouTube looking for videos of artist playing the guitar. He loved the guitar. This is when he became addicted to Johnny Cash and now Bruce Springstein has been added to that mix. I think introducing music (and not the kiddie crap) to kids at an early age is extremely important for development.

    I agree with you about much of the music produced to day. This is why I have stopped listening to POP music of today. Instead I listen The Current which is a Minnesota Public Radio Station that plays a variety of Indie, Local, and everything else. You will seriously hear everything from Johnny Cash to The Beastie Boys to Vampire Weekend (one of my new favorites). You can stream online. Check them out at mpr.org.

    Great post!!

  7. LOL, what the heck were you doing listening to the Controversy album at 11 years old? Did your mother know? I would listen to it with earphones on so my mother wouldn’t hear it. Oh Lord, was I in love with Prince. I can’t figure music these days. Don’t get me wrong, I do like some of it but I guess it’s played every 10 minutes and it quickly turns me off. So I switch over to the “Light Listening” which my kids can’t stand. Gosh, am I turning into my mother?

  8. LOL, what the heck were you doing listening to the Controversy album at 11 years old? Did your mother know? I would listen to it with earphones on so my mother wouldn’t hear it. Oh Lord, was I in love with Prince. I can’t figure music these days. Don’t get me wrong, I do like some of it but I guess it’s played every 10 minutes and it quickly turns me off. So I switch over to the “Light Listening” which my kids can’t stand. Gosh, am I turning into my mother?

  9. Miley Cyrus needs to be shipped away. Far away. And hey, I love the Black Eyed Peas to get my groove on.

    I remember my parents hating Depeche Mode that I used to crank til it was distorted on my portable cassette player.
    .-= ilinap´s last blog ..5:00 Fridays – POM Momagarita =-.

    • Where is the looooooooove? Where is the love?

      I loved that song.

      My husband and I are taking bets on when Miley officially becomes the next out of control Disney prodigy. For a company that cranks out movies that ooze family values they sure seem to have problems with their children stars growing up faster than the average kid.

  10. Miley Cyrus needs to be shipped away. Far away. And hey, I love the Black Eyed Peas to get my groove on.

    I remember my parents hating Depeche Mode that I used to crank til it was distorted on my portable cassette player.
    .-= ilinap´s last blog ..5:00 Fridays – POM Momagarita =-.

    • Where is the looooooooove? Where is the love?

      I loved that song.

      My husband and I are taking bets on when Miley officially becomes the next out of control Disney prodigy. For a company that cranks out movies that ooze family values they sure seem to have problems with their children stars growing up faster than the average kid.

  11. Amusing post. Blame the slick marketeers at places like Disney who are very clever at capturing young minds and exploiting peer pressure. Todays music isn’t what I enjoy (I prefer R&R) but then every generation thinks the next generaltion is nuts so I try to cut them some slack and be tolerant. However, I must confess that there are certain things about about ‘recent” geenerations that I don’t understand and Bevis and Butthead top that list. SIGH!!

    Now I have the pleasure of watching my children raise our grandchildren and to be candid I’m enjoying their efforts as what goes around comes around.
    .-= Grandpa Oddball´s last blog ..The Latest Article from =-.

  12. Amusing post. Blame the slick marketeers at places like Disney who are very clever at capturing young minds and exploiting peer pressure. Todays music isn’t what I enjoy (I prefer R&R) but then every generation thinks the next generaltion is nuts so I try to cut them some slack and be tolerant. However, I must confess that there are certain things about about ‘recent” geenerations that I don’t understand and Bevis and Butthead top that list. SIGH!!

    Now I have the pleasure of watching my children raise our grandchildren and to be candid I’m enjoying their efforts as what goes around comes around.
    .-= Grandpa Oddball´s last blog ..The Latest Article from =-.

  13. I realized recently I hadn’t bought a new album in 10 years. Sure, I have purchased music during that time, but it is old music. I am musically stuck in the ’90’s, and I am going to be one of those people that talks about how they don’t make good music anymore. sigh.

  14. I realized recently I hadn’t bought a new album in 10 years. Sure, I have purchased music during that time, but it is old music. I am musically stuck in the ’90’s, and I am going to be one of those people that talks about how they don’t make good music anymore. sigh.

  15. As a fellow brother in the struggle, I will agree todays music is in need of an artist that can sing and has some actual musicians. I’m so tired of artist relying on the “hook” to get them through the music. Where are the groups like Ready For The World, Dreamboy, The Deele, and Switch. Where are the Luther Vandross and Tony Terrys of the world. Oh well, it was good while it lasted.

  16. As a fellow brother in the struggle, I will agree todays music is in need of an artist that can sing and has some actual musicians. I’m so tired of artist relying on the “hook” to get them through the music. Where are the groups like Ready For The World, Dreamboy, The Deele, and Switch. Where are the Luther Vandross and Tony Terrys of the world. Oh well, it was good while it lasted.

  17. I make cd’s for my kids. The latest one I made for my son consisted of MJ, MC hammer, and ABC (Another Bad Creation). I loved the songs “Playground” and “My World” when I was younger so I threw them in. He loves it. And I love the fact that I am turning him on to alternatives.

    P.S. I absoultely luv “Party in the USA”. It’s my guilty pleasure #421.
    .-= K. Rock´s last blog ..Q-Time =-.

  18. I make cd’s for my kids. The latest one I made for my son consisted of MJ, MC hammer, and ABC (Another Bad Creation). I loved the songs “Playground” and “My World” when I was younger so I threw them in. He loves it. And I love the fact that I am turning him on to alternatives.

    P.S. I absoultely luv “Party in the USA”. It’s my guilty pleasure #421.
    .-= K. Rock´s last blog ..Q-Time =-.

  19. My kids are still young enough that they have no idea of the existence of kids’ music, or music geared for teens. Right now, they love the Beatles, White Stripes, Earth Wind & Fire, and old Michael Jackson. I know it’s a matter of time before they catch wind from their peers, but I am hoping to shelter them from that awful genre music as long as I can. I don’t think I could handle driving and listening to Justin Beiber at the same time!
    .-= Kristen´s last blog ..that’s what she said (pop culture edition) =-.

  20. My kids are still young enough that they have no idea of the existence of kids’ music, or music geared for teens. Right now, they love the Beatles, White Stripes, Earth Wind & Fire, and old Michael Jackson. I know it’s a matter of time before they catch wind from their peers, but I am hoping to shelter them from that awful genre music as long as I can. I don’t think I could handle driving and listening to Justin Beiber at the same time!
    .-= Kristen´s last blog ..that’s what she said (pop culture edition) =-.

  21. ….it’s a party in the U. S. A…..we are HUGE 80’s music fans. I’ve written about my husband’s Michael Jackson objection. Came across a few MJ T-shirts the other day that I have stashed away for his birthday. (He likes to skate to Thriller, etc.) things went downhill quickly after the 80’s. I mean – You Dropped a Bomb on Me, It Takes Two, Ice Ice Baby ;-) There’s some greatness there.
    .-= carma´s last blog ..Yesterday I Made $5 =-.

  22. ….it’s a party in the U. S. A…..we are HUGE 80’s music fans. I’ve written about my husband’s Michael Jackson objection. Came across a few MJ T-shirts the other day that I have stashed away for his birthday. (He likes to skate to Thriller, etc.) things went downhill quickly after the 80’s. I mean – You Dropped a Bomb on Me, It Takes Two, Ice Ice Baby ;-) There’s some greatness there.
    .-= carma´s last blog ..Yesterday I Made $5 =-.

  23. I find that any argument asserting one generation’s music as artistically superior to another’s is absurd. The only real difference between Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga is cultural context and the available technology, both of which can be interpreted to each other’s advantage in any debate that objectifies musical taste. There are two equally correct camps that believe that autotune is a bane to musical talent or that it is a wonderful tool that should be used. Some 80s purists are offended by the fact that I prefer Fall Out Boy’s cover of Beat It over the original, but the reality is that the musical treatment is as culturally subjective as language. Would you be offended by an Italian who preferred Equipe 84’s treatment of Space Oddity over David Bowie’s original? Granted, as a matter of taste I largely share your opinion, but the overlap is small, not because one of us has “better” culture than the other, but because we have such extremely different culture.