I’m driving home after a long day. It’s almost 8:30, it’s raining and I’m hungry. I’m almost home when I find myself stuck behind an Oldsmobile cruising at 32 miles per hour. I can almost feel my blood pressure rising, when suddenly Pentatonix blares through the stereo system. My saving grace. I turn the volume up until it hurts my ears and channel my frustration into a terrible rendition of “Can’t Sleep Love.”
Don’t try to hide it; you could also be a closet rock star. You blast your eardrums to your favorite song despite the voice in your head that warns you’ll go deaf by the time you’re 45. You’re thrilled when you know all the words to that catchy tune and you can let off some steam with car karaoke. I don’t know how I would survive this semester of night classes and working late into the night, of driving home in the dark six nights a week, if I could not listen to the radio on the way home. A good song is like a shot of caffeine straight into your system.
Music has more than just an effect on our moods. How many of us can actually study effectively while listening to music with lyrics? I find my mind straying to the song, and my imagination conjures a storyline to match the lyrics. Take another example: Don’t songs influence what we think of as trendy or acceptable? I can only speak for myself, but I didn’t know how much I needed a moped until Macklemore opened my eyes to the possibilities.
Music speaks to our souls. About that, we can all agree. So what are we telling ourselves? This powerful tool can be a force of evil just as much as it is a force of good. Robin Thicke taught us that. His “Blurred Lines” left women all over America in an uproar. The entire song revolves around the “gray area” between consent and assault. Basically, the lyrics imply that just because a woman does not say yes to sex does not mean that she is saying no. Because women apparently don’t know their own minds. The meaning behind the lyrics is poorly veiled: “Do it like it hurt, like it hurt, what you don’t like work?” The song has a provocative message thinly veiled by a catchy beat and energetic rhythm.
I won’t pretend to be a saint. I listen to the majority of the music on the radio. But I cannot help but wonder, what do songs like that do to our minds? Surely such a message has an impact, even if just on our subconscious. If that patriotic country song makes us feel proud to be American, and the heartbroken love song reminds us of our exes before things went sour, why wouldn’t a disturbing rape song influence our emotions on sexual misconduct?
Don’t just take my word for it. This is a theory that is backed by scientific research. A study conducted by Brian A. Primack, M.D., Ed.M., M.S., of the Center for Research on Health Care at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, showed that among a diverse group of male and female high school students, those who had been exposed to songs featuring sexually degrading lyrics were more than twice as likely to be sexually active than those who had not been listening to these songs.
I realize that many readers who have read thus far may have come up with solid counterarguments. Surely I realize that these songs are free choice? If I don’t like what I hear, I can change the station. Don’t I know that sexually active teenagers are affected by much more than a few raunchy songs on the radio? Do I not understand that even if we eliminated these songs from the broadcasting waves, the actions behind the meanings would still linger in our world? Yes, I get your point.
But please do not become complacent. Just because the song made its way to your ears does not make it worthy of being heard. Understand that even a three-minute song can have an impact on your mentality. Music can be food for your soul. So what are you feeding yourself?