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.
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?