Gangnam Style For Children

We had my son’s fifth birthday party on Sunday. 40 children, a church hall and thankfully, an entertainer.

The entertainer was fabulous. He had the kids behaving well and doing exactly what he needed them to do, when they needed to do it. The kids found him hilarious and I’ll admit I found myself chuckling at some of his slapstick style comedy. All in all he was a success.

After the children ate, there was dancing. He had the latest tunes loaded on his iPod and was using them as part of his show. This is a show he does all over London and the Home Counties; he’s a very popular, professional entertainer.

Suddenly the unmistakable rhythmic bass introduction of PSY’s Gangnum Style  rang out and the hall was filled with 4 and 5 year olds capering around like demented cowboys and yelling along to ‘Sexy Lady’ at the tops of their voices.

Psy Gangnam Style
Well, not quite all. Some looked more than a little confused but a fair number, including my children, knew all the moves.  Most of the parents looked on approvingly but I’m sure I saw a few of them look more than a little surprised. I have to admit that I’m not quite convinced that it’s an appropriate song to be playing at a 5 year old’s birthday party. The entertainer obviously had no problem with it and none of the parents complained, so maybe it is my problem?

I think it’s the lyrics ‘Sexy Lady’ that unsettle me. When I was a child I’m sure lyrics to songs on the radio were much less explicit, and we sung along to some of the more questionable songs with no idea of what they were on about. These days kids do seem to know that there is something ‘cheeky’ about the lyrics, and in Gangnam Style it doesn’t help that the only recognisable words in the whole song are not wholly appropriate.

I’ve asked my girls what they think sexy means. My 11 year old has had ‘the talk’ and does understand the basic connotation; she gets all embarrassed  if you try and talk about it with her so is the least likely to sing along with this song. The 9 year old loves it but doesn’t want to discuss the word ‘sexy’, I probably need to sit down with her for ‘the talk’ at some point although I’m pretty sure she has a vague idea of what it’s all about. The 6 year old knows it’s embarrassing for her to use the word and loves the effect it has. She has a disco party booked for the beginning of February and has asked for Gangnam style to be on the play list. I haven’t said yes or no, yet.

So no, I don’t think my children do understand the true meaning of the word sexy, in the way that it can sometimes be used. The question is, is it appropriate for young children to be singing along to this music? And what do you do about music when you have a range of ages in the house?

What do you think? Do you ‘allow’ your children to listen to pop music no matter what the lyrics are, or do you censor their music somehow? If so, how?



10 comments on “Gangnam Style For Children

  1. It doesn’t bother me, to be honest.
    As a child I remember blindly singing along to all sorts of songs and since my parents were into country music I do remember singing along to Dr Hook’s ‘A little more’ which makes ‘Sexy Lady’ pale in comparison.
    And what about Frankie Goes to Hollywood? That was ‘banned’ for suggestive lyrics when I was 11, which of course meant every child going knew all the lyrics and probably learned more about homosexuality through resulting news discussions than they ever would have if the song hadn’t been banned.
    As for ‘Your Sex is on Fire’ – probably not one to play for 5 year olds, but since it’s had so much airplay I’m sure most children sing along to it. I got away with yelling ‘pants’ loudly over the ‘offending’ word for a long time but my boys knew full well what the song said. Goodness only knows what it means though – perhaps the lady in question had a yeast infection?
    Children love songs with dance moves – as children we had loads to get up and dance to with no fear of our shuffling personal moves being laughed at – Agadoo, Superman, the Birdie Song and more recently Saturday Night and the Cha Cha Slide.

  2. Tom was singing it this morning and I have NO idea where he’s heard it; I guess it must have been played at a party as it’s never had airplay in this house. I can’t say I like it much, but had to laugh as he was actually singing ‘Kung Fu Panda style!’

    • We’d never played it here before the kids came home singing it from school. Now we have it on a compilation CD *rolls eyes*

  3. I’m not sure that I think it is entirely appropriate, no! But censoring music is nigh on impossible as it’s everywhere! I know that most lyrics go over children’s heads but that still doesn’t make it okay. In fact it makes me cringe to hear them sing along as they invariably do. My youngest two are just four and six and before Christmas, Gangham Style somehow invaded the playground and it did make me smile when my daughters told me that the teachers told them they had to change the words to ‘yellow lady’! I suspect the teachers weren’t quite sure how to stop the Gangham madness but this seems like quite a clever compromise to me 😉

  4. I’ve not got to the stage where I need to be worried yet, although I should really stop flicking channels to music ones where there’s usually half naked women frolicking along to their songs (N’s always entranced by female singers, but not so much the men – wonder why? Even at the age of 2!)

    I’m not sure I’d be that worried when they’re young as they’re just singing along and probably not really aware of what they’re singing. And I’m not sure it’s that easy to censor music these days given that children seem to be able to access them through technology/head them on radio etc. But I guess it’s a case of doing what you’re doing and making sure they’re getting the information from yourself rather than waiting for friends to tell them what they think things mean.

  5. The DJ at the Xmas party ours went to also played that. Believe it or not it was the first time I’d heard it, & I didn’t know how huge it was, nor did I pick up on the Sexy Lady lyric. Ours aren’t yet 3 so it went straight over their heads. I wouldn’t want to have to explain to an older child, & there was quite an age range there, exactly what “sexy” meant though. So I think I disapprove 🙂

  6. We, like above, have socks on fire!

    But it is a tricky one, the kids love ganglam style and to be honest is hard to avoid, so when they ask what a sexy lady is I just answer me!

  7. I had a madonna obsession when I was a kid and I’m prety sure a 11 year old singing ‘Like a Virgin’ is much worse than ‘sexy lady’. I don’t really think of ‘sexy’ being a bad or risque word. We had Sexy Thing by Hot Chocolate when we were kids..and I also loved Angel in a Centrefold when I was a kid..also very dodgy looking back as an adult!!!

    I am sure there are countless examples from earlier generations…..take a look at the lyrics for Sweet Sixteen by Neil Sedaka and tell me that’s not dodgy!!!! (I recently ruined the song for my mum pointing it out!)

  8. Hi,
    Ah! I am so happy to see common sense. You talk about your birthday party, my 5 years old, sang and danced on this song at school for his end of year reception party! I still cant believe it. He doesn’t understand what he says but I don’t know why school would encourage 5 years old to behave like teenagers…I find it appalling

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