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Billboard's 'Top 20' lyrics under scrutiny

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Culture and Media Institute is sounding a music alarm over the explicit lyrics contained in many top 20 pop songs.

The Institute took a close look at top songs on Billboard magazine charts over a 14-week period and found that a fourth of the songs that made the Top 20 sent a message of sexual degradation, and nearly half included some form of sexual content. Out of the 50 songs examined, 13 were sexually degrading, six contained profanity, and seven referred to drugs and alcohol.

Colleen Raezler, who helped in the study, says the sexual content was so pervasive that it was borderline pornographic in nature. And she contends that the lyrics point to a "coarsening of the culture."

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"[The songs] just contained all sorts of terrible messages...," says Raezler. "...[T]hings are much more accepted now, and artists are constantly pushing the envelope trying to be edgy, to sell records," she reckons. "The controversy really helps sell records."

Most of the songs examined are listened to by young children. And Raezler points out that a study published two years ago in Pediatrics magazine revealed that adolescents who listen to sexually degrading music are more likely to start intimate behavior.

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