One of the greatest parts about being a parent is getting to share all your favorite music with your kids. But what happens when some of the songs you hold dear to your heart also happen to be a bit...problematic for young ears? It happens to all parents at some point: You play album after album or blast the radio in the car, and don’t give it a second thought because you’re a parent and your mind is occupied with errands and work and toddler schedules and then boom — your kids are suddenly saying some shocking things, singing every combination of profanities, and you’re wondering where you went wrong.
It’s cool, parent-folk. You’re not alone. It’s easy to forget that our little ones eventually begin to pick up on the lyrics that we don’t even give a second thought to. My own almost-2-year-old is only now beginning to repeat some of the less-than-appropriate words that sometimes spill out of my mouth while he’s listening. I can only imagine what will happen when he finally hears me playing Marilyn Manson’s Antichrist Superstar album (don’t hate).
So I asked some fellow mamas what the dirtiest song their kid has ever been obsessed with. Their answers range from only "slightly eyebrow raising" to "oh, holy hell," and they’re all hilarious.
"Uptown Funk" By Mark Ronson Ft. Bruno Mars
Beth’s kids are 5 and 6 years old and love this catchy tune. Definitely on the tamer side, the song uses the word “bitch” once and has some references to drinking as well as the line, “girls hit your hallelujah” which I’m still not clear on, but could be worse. She also says they like Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams”, which she says, “isn’t all that dirty, but having littles belting out about how he’s ‘handsome as hell’ is a little jarring.”
"Blurred Lines" By Robin Thicke Ft. Pharell
Catherine & Ani
Robin Thicke’s "Blurred Lines" has had its fair share of controversy, so it’s no wonder any feminist mama would feel a little irked at having their child sing along to lyrics like, “I know you want it.” Catherine’s son was about 3 years old when he got hooked on the song. “We listened to the radio uncritically for a long time. Hearing my sweet little boy sing, ‘do it like it hurt’ changed that, though. I didn’t even know he’s heard the song often enough to know the words until he started singing it in public one day. That and [Daft Punk’s] "Get Lucky" were game changers.”
Ani's three children — ages 2, 7, and 9 — were also big fans of the pop song. “Then we had a long chat about consent,” she says.
"Baby Got Back" By Sir Mix-A-Lot
Definitely on the list of forbidden tunes for kids growing up in the early '90s, Michelle’s kids, ages 8 and 5, have been into this tune about ladies with big booties for over a year. “D has listened to it longer because it’s on her baby shower mix CD. [Her older daughter] really started memorizing the lyrics last year. They both love [Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’] “Thrift Shop,” too, but think [the line] ‘fucking awesome’ is ‘looking awesome.’ They haven’t asked me what a big cock is...yet.”
"Hey Mama" By David Guetta Ft. Nicki Minaj
Raeven’s 2-year-old is obsessed with this tune, especially the line, “bangin’ the drum like dum di di dey,” which I’d say is one of the most harmless parts of the song. But I can see how she finds it problematic when you hear racier lyrics like, “your dick game the truth / my screams is the proof.” Definitely hard to explain to a toddler.
"Habits" By Tove Lo
Mini’s 4.5-year-old twins love this totally song, but with lyrics that talk about sex clubs and drinking all your money then throwing up in a bathtub and staying high all the time, there’s no doubt these youngsters will have some questions of their own. Mini also tells me that one of her girls’ favorite song is “Heroes” by Alesso, also featuring Tove Lo, which is definitely more PC.
"Hotline Bling" By Drake
Kristen & Kristy
Kristen B. says that her 3-year-old already tries to sing along to the recent Drake hit, though she confesses the love of “inappropriate music” began when he’d kick from inside her belly whenever she listened to "Blurred Lines."
Another mom, Kristy, also has a pair of kids who can’t get enough of the former Degrassi star: “Both boys love it. It’s awful but so damn catchy,” she says of her two sons, ages 9 and 2.
"Three Point One Four" By The Bloodhound Gang
When you think of raunchy music, one band that always comes to mind is the Bloodhound Gang. These dudes made a career of misogynist lyrics set to ceaselessly catchy beats (am I a bad feminist for still bobbing my head to this song? Who knows). Celeste tells me this story: “Back in the day when my 16 year old was a wee 4-year-old, I listened to whatever. And then he started belting out with Bloodhound Gang’s song about a new vagina (the lyrics were ‘I need to find a new vagina’) and I had to change my listening habits around him...after I stopped laughing my head clean off. Nothing like your baby singing, ‘va-giiiiiii-na, vaaaah-giiii-naaaaa!’ to make you question all your choices as a parent.”
But hey, at least it wasn’t “A Lap Dance Is So Much Better When The Stripper Is Crying.” (Yes, that’s a real song.)
"Good For You" By Selena Gomez Ft. A$AP Rocky
One of Laura’s 2-year-old’s first phrases was “dark horse” after the Katy Perry tune by the same name, which doesn’t really have anything too bad in it, save maybe for what you might call “strong, sexual undertones” and a brief mention of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. But what she does find a bit more troubling is his new fixation on Selena Gomez’s “Good For You,” about basically just wanting to look good for someone, and which includes lyrics like, “rubbin on my miniature John Hancock” and “just met a bad miss without the ass shot” (what does that even mean though?)
"Last Friday Night (TGIF)" By Katy Perry
Liza’s two kids —ages 8 and 5 — just can’t get enough of Katy Perry. It began a year ago with her song, “Last Friday Night (TGIF)” that begins with the lines, “There’s a stranger in my bed, there’s a pounding in my head,” which might actually mean completely different things to kids but us in the adult world know what’s up. “The now-8-year-old can’t get enough of Perry’s ‘Waking Up In Vegas’,” she adds.
"All About That Bass" By Meghan Trainor
Miranda & Natalie
Alright, so Meghan Trainor’s hit song has been both hailed and criticized for its mixed messages about body image, but that doesn’t mean it ain’t still catchy (and probably way better than many of the other songs about bodies out there). Still, for those who are still waiting for the body positive re-write of “All About That Bass,” it might still be more problematic than what you’d want your kid to sing along to. Natalie tells me that her almost-6-year-old absolutely loves the song, and Miranda's 6-year-old is also all about it, though she adds he also sings the uncensored version of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” as well.
"Gangnam Style" By PSY
Charlotte’s 4-year-old can’t stop singing the line, “Hey sexy ladies!” which I suppose isn’t too terrible (or is it?) but then again, if you’ve ever stopped to read all the lyrics to this old hit, you’ll find fun, slut-shaming lines like, “a girl who covers herself but is more sexy than a girl who bares it all.” Yeah, PSY, get out of here with that crap.
"CoCo" By O.T. Genasis
I confess I’ve heard this one on the radio and have sometimes left it on with my kid (well, my toddler isn’t quite talkative yet), but reading the lyrics I just have to laugh at the kind of stuff the song talks about. In this tune of few words, we have mentions of guns (like the "trenta ocho" or .38), sticking it to the man (fuck the popo, the c.o., the judge, and the p.o, respectively), and of course, drugs (the song, in case you haven’t figured it out, is about moving and doing cocaine). Vicky says her husband introduced their 2-year-old to the song, and he is now obsessed, though he’ll hopefully be over it by the time he gets what "coco" really means.