Music Lyrics: Good or Bad?
Since the beginning of human existence, birds sing, fire crackles, water drips, and leaves rustle, creating music. Pitches, tones, and notes put together simply make music. Words added as lyrics to allow the telling of stories, let others into our thoughts, and express feelings. Many different types of music encompass several different genres. These include country, contemporary, blues, classical, electric, jazz, religious, hip hop, and rap, just to name a few. However, in the past few decades’ controversy over lyrics come forth.
Rap is defined as a style of popular music consisting of improvised rhymes performed to a rhythmic accompaniment (American Psychological Association, 2003). The first known rappers, was a group called the Last Poets. The Last Poets established in New York City during the civil rights era, shortly after the death of Martin Luther King in 1968 (Jambetta Studios, 2006). Emerging in the late 80’s, a new group from Los Angeles came forward that changed the face of rap music. The N.W.A. (Niggaz With Attitude) became notorious for their newfound gangtsa rap. Their music consisted primarily of violence, criminal life, harsh language, and blunt sexual lyrics. Over time, N.W.A.’s lyrics became more explicit which lead the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to send them warning letters. These lyrics filled the minds and fantasies of teenagers, and the crime rate rose drastically (Thomas, 2003). Could the music and lyrics cause the increase in crime or was it just coincident? Definitely not, music can and does have an affect people. Music attracts humans; music is constantly at our disposal through the modern technologies of television, computers, video games, and the Internet (Diabia, 2007). Music can be part of a ritual, an emotional release, religious reasons, or just listening for pleasure. Without even realizing, music fills voids of silence. Often, music played in the background goes unnoticed, until it gets turned off. Music gets played constantly, so it gets overlooked, during homework, reading, studying, hanging out with friends, and especially driving. Donald F. Roberts states: “ Music promotes experiences of the extreme for its makers and listeners, turning the perilous emotional edges, vulnerabilities, triumphs, celebrations, and antagonism of life into hypnotic, reflective tempos that can be experienced privately or shared with others (Roberts, Christenson, Gentile, 2003).” According to one study of over six hundred students from public and private schools in Minnesota, the children reported on average of spending twenty-one hours per week listening to music. Also, within that study, only thirty percent of those questioned knew the words to their favorite song (Roberts, Christenson, Gentile, 2003). These songs that teenagers and young children listen to have violent and offensive lyrics, the explicit lyrics turn the younger generation to suicide, increased aggression, stereotyping, racism, depression, drugs, and killing (Noland and Steiner, 2009). Avid music lovers attest that the words sung in these songs are just words and is no different than poetry printed in literature books (Noland and Steiner, 2009). However, numerous studies have been done that disprove the avid music lovers’ claim.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), a new study shows that songs with violent lyrics increase aggression related thoughts, emotions, and hostility. This effect directly relates to the violence in the lyrics. The aggressive words increase the speed with which people read aggressive versus nonaggressive words (American Psychological Association, 2003). Craig A. Anderson, Ph.D. of Iowa State University stated: “Aggressive thoughts can influence perceptions of ongoing social interactions, coloring them with an aggressive tint. Such aggression-biased interpretations can, in turn, instigate a more aggressive response – verbal or physical – then would...
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