5 September 2011

The suitability of my 5 year old's playlist

Our household has always been one that has enjoyed listening to music be it in the house or the car, watching music DVDs and, when we can, catching it live. When pregnant with "E" I would enjoy listening to it loud in the car on the daily commute, sitting up late watching live DVDs and generally enjoying my CD collection never worrying about what I was listening to. Now, as a mother of two, I have been subjected to Nursery Rhymes and In the Night Garden CDs for car journeys but the children are now outgrowing this genre and, although they still enjoy Disney's Tangled soundtrack, they are taking interest in our musical tastes - hoorah! But..... I am finding myself having to police my CDs very carefully.

My favourite band is The Killers and I have played their CDs on many a car journey. Up until now they have been known as Brandon's band as I didn't really want "E" and "A" running around saying how much they liked The Killers. But, she is now 5 and can read the CD covers and the backdrop on the stage set and she just thinks it is a funny name! A case of me worrying about nothing?

Lately I have rediscovered my love of James and put a CD on to listen to in the car. Later, at home, "E" starts singing her heart out,

"How was it for you? How was it for you? How was it for you?"

Further lyrics in the song state "I'm so possessed by sex I could destroy my health". Oooops! Big parent fail. Luckily those words had not become ingrained to her musical memory!

That incident though got me thinking. What is suitable lyrical content for children to hear? Is it ok when the meaning just goes over their heads anyway?  I remember when I was about 9 singing Madonna's Like a Virgin and not having a clue what it meant, so need I be worried about "E" innocently singing "How was it for you?"?

"E" is becoming more aware of female singers and, rather worryingly, how they look. She is already passing judgement on those she sees in the media. Looking through pictures of this year's Camp Bestival she pointed out Eliza Doolittle:

E: "I like her, she's pretty, she's wearing a beautiful dress"
Me, in my head, "But I wear more than that to go to bed!"

Channel hopping to find cbeebies the other day she asked me to stop on a music channel; oh my, Cher Lloyd's 'Swagger Jagger' had caught her eye! Intrigued, I had to stop and watch. "E" sat and bopped her head along, I sat and hoped it would end soon. Now don't get me wrong, I appreciate a range of music genres and I liked some of Cher Lloyd's X Factor performances but I didn't want my little girl liking her. Why? Maybe it was the amount of make-up? The highly styled hair? The club dancing and exposed midriffs?! My word I feel old as I sit typing this! I didn't even know what she was singing about it so I had a look online:


Swagger Jagger
Swagger Jagger
U should get some of ur own...
...u can't stop looking at me, staring at me
be what I be
U can't stop looking at me
So get up out my face
(Lyrics courtesy of You Tube)

(According to the fan site www.cher-lloyd.co.uk a 'Swagger Jagger' is "someone who copies other peoples originality and unique style", in case you were wondering.)

Call me a snob but I don't want "E" swaggering around singing that - and I want her to learn to spell properly too. I would just prefer her to like female performers that are songwriters and use their talent first and foremost. Someone like Kate Nash or Lily Allen.

Ah, but then there is the whole sweary bits issue!


I was listening to Kate Nash whilst baking recently and "E" came in and asked who it was. She had a little head bounce and really liked it, however I had to skip some tracks due to parent paranoia that she would pick up on the one naughty word like 'shit' or 'bitch' and once again I would be guilty of parent fail. I did however make sure she missed the song  'Dickhead'

Why you being a dickhead for?
Stop being a dickhead
Why you being a dickhead for?........etc

from 'Dickhead' written by Kate Nash
I will save that for her to play when the boys start getting to her in high school!
Earlier this year I got to see Kate Nash perform in Bath. During her show she spoke about opportunities for teenage girls becoming songwriters and performers on their own merit and not being judged on looks. She stated how she had been called unattractive before and the media had picked up on an image of her with - heaven forbid - spotty skin. But she summed up alot about how today's female performers are putting out the image of perfection to young girls, one of whom is my, easily led by a pretty face and dress, 5 year old daughter.

This is my face
Covered in freckles
With the occasional spot and some veins...

....This is my body
No matter how you try and disable it
Yes I'll still be here
And this is my mind
And although you try to infringe
You cannot confine

And this is my brain
And even if you try and hold me back
There's nothing that you can gain

from 'Mouthwash' written by Kate Nash

So I would rather she be influenced by the types of Kate Nash, with a few sweary bits when she's old enough to get it, but for now she can listen to the edited versions while I go in search for some talented songwriters with something interesting to say.

Or I have just completely missed the market for her age. What are primary school children meant to listen to? Any suggestions?

(images from celebrity-pix.co.uk, unrealitytv.co.uk, lyricsbond.com & sofeminine.co.uk)


  1. Hi,
    I was brought up listening to all sorts of sweary music. I listen to all sorts now. My kids (aged 12, 4 and 2.5).
    I care more about the artistic talent than the lyrics. If It's pure manufactured drivel, I avoid it.
    I listen to highly controversial music, my kids don't seem to notice the weirdness...

    Lucy aka LUCEWOMAN/yel0wbird.


  2. Ref the music I don't worry about the words to be honest. Sometimes they ask what a word is and I explain it. If it's rude I tell them it's a rude word and explain what it means. Mosy of the time they sing along obliviously. Now the scantily clad overly sexual videos ... that's another matter. We don't go there. xxx

  3. I know what you mean. But when it comes to Lily Allen, fortunately my girls are deaf. I love Lily's song "F@#& You" and mindlessly play it within earshot of The Squeeze and The Bear. However, the other day I heard them singing along to it "Thank you. Thank you very, very muuuuch!" Phew!

  4. So difficult isn't it. Luckily my kids are really into Arcade Fire right now so I don't have to worry about unsuitable words so much, but my son went through a real Nick Cave phase, calling it Pirate Music. Thankfully though I don't think he could quite catch some of the lyrics!! Emma :)

  5. This blog really made me think. I have a 2 year old niece (3 in december) and a 6 year old nephew. They spend a lot of time with me, who I'm very close to and I'm well aware that I am a big influence in their lives. I love to listen to music and it's always on whether I'm doing housework or in the car. Their parents listen almost exclusively to r&b and hip-hop so I try my best to introduce them to other types on music. I listen to a wide range from The Killers to Darren Hayes to Take That and I've noticed recently that the kids are starting to get interested in music channels. Whilst I enjoy the occasional r&b track, I don't want them to get sucked into the bling culture and the half naked female singers who are dominating the scene today. I'm quite happy for them to watch the videos as long as they are varied and can see alternative female singers who manage to keep their clothes on and have opinions and themes that aren't always sexual. I'm no prude and I'm well aware that you can't shut them off from what's out there. I'm so happy that they now like a few songs by The Killers, U2, Take That and Darren and my nephew has even made me promise that as soon as he's old enough, I'll take him to a live concert with me. My nephew listened to the odd track with sweary lyrics, though not repetitive ones and because we didn't draw attention to them, he never repeated them. I'm of the opinion that a bit of everything is fine as long as it's not the same song/artist/genre repeated all the time. And above all, good parenting with the emphasis on making your own choices but instilling morals so they see why is the healthiest thing, then the rest isn't as important.

  6. It's a tough one, isn't it? I'm definitely more worried about the hyper-sexual clothes and dancing than I am about swearing. Obviously I try and avoid both but if there's one swearword within a sentence in a song I don't worry as E tends to just makeup his own words to them anyway. I guess if he did start repeating them I'd probably just try and explain what it meant and that it wasn't a nice word so it might upset people if he said it at school/Grandma's house.

  7. That is a tough one, there are so many songs out which kids just like because of the music not for the words. Mine are still pretty young and only like children's music like christmas carols or nursery rhymes. x

  8. Oh my goodness and there I was thinking it was just me! My 5 year old loves Kesha as she likes to dance to one of her songs on the Wii Just Dance game. It is therefore why I bought her the Kesha album to play on her CD played in her bedroom, much to my surprise my beautiful little girl started to sing "TAKE A DIRTY PICTURE OF ME, TAKE A DIRTY PICTURE"...as you can imagine to my horror the rest of the albums contents were so not suitable for a 5 year old's delicate ears (although I did enjoy it myself!. Kesha has been replaced by the more appropriate Girl's Aloud Greatest Hits!! I know that she didn't understand what she was singing about but can you imagine what would have happened if she had started singing this in school?!?

    Officer Mummy xx

  9. Thanks to everyone for the fantastic responses, so glad no-one judged my parenting! It is a minefield out there with music and beyond that the clothing and images portrayed in videos etc. I think Andie summed it up nicely though:
    "And above all, good parenting with the emphasis on making your own choices but instilling morals so they see why is the healthiest thing, then the rest isn't as important."
    Thanks again for taking the time to comment x


I appreciate all comments, thank you! x x

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