Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Disney Music: China Anne McClain and Allstar Weekend

When I was a child Disney music was harmless. In fact, one of the first cassette tapes that I owned (remember those?) was the soundtrack to The Lion King. The lyrics were always harmless, usually funny, and any music videos were animated. In those days, the only criticism of Disney music was that Elton John provided some of the vocals.

Like most things, though, Disney music has evolved. Thanks to Radio Disney, and their hit TV show Next Big Thing, and the fact that almost every character from the Disney Channel has their own band, Disney music is now pop music with real people and real music videos.

That is not what concerns me. My issue is with the lyrics. China Anne McClain (star of Disney Channel’s newest comedy show Ant Farm) is one of those actors who also also sings. Her debut song is called Dynamite, which is a catchy song with a harmless video. The chorus of the song says, “We gon’ rock this club, we gon’ go all night, we gon’ light it up like its dynamite.”

China Anne is not even in high school yet and she is singing about rocking a club all night. The majority of her fans will not even be old enough to enter a club for another decade, so that is a little confusing to me as a song choice by Disney.

Where it gets even weirder is when I found out that two other artists had previously recorded the same song. The original artist, Taio Cruz, who wrote the song, has a trashy music video to go along with it. The original Cruz version also has the f-word in it. Why would Disney have their newest and youngest star sing this song?

If you type “Dynamite lyrics” in Google, guess whose version comes up? China Anne’s doesn’t come on the entire first page, and her name doesn’t come up in the suggestions. Most of the hits are Taio’s version.

Then there is the group Allstar Weekend. These guys rose to fame on Disney’s Next Big Thing, and they have a song on the soundtrack to the newest Disney movie Prom. The song is called Not Your Birthday, and it is written to everyone who is not celebrating their birthday so they can party too.

Like with Dynamite there is another version, but unlike the other song, Allstar Weekend does both versions. Allstar Weekend’s original version contains both the b-word and the d-word (twice), and it glorifies drinking this way:

“Take a sip of the high life, chase it down until you fall.”

“Drop your calls, lose your keys before the drinks are gone.”

“Life is tough so fill them cups, one life to live so live it up, drinks go up, drink ‘em down, turn it up, wake up the town.”

In the music video the band is singing at prom, which is lame before the band arrives. Once they start singing people are drinking the “punch” and they begin to loosen up and have fun (including the school faculty).

In the Prom version the lyrics are altered:

“Take a moment of the good life, chase it down until you fall.”

“Drop your calls, lose your keys before the night is gone.”

“Life is tough so loosen up, DJ, turn that Weekend up, get down, get loud, everybody stand up, everybody go nuts, throw your hands up.”

In this video the punch drinking is replaced with scenes from the movie, but the rest is the same. If you type “Allstar Weekend Not Your Birthday” in Google, once again, you get the original version. “Clean version” comes up in the suggestion box, but even after I selected that, the first one to come up was not the clean version.
Disney owns the copyright to both versions.

If a child watching the Disney Channel or listening to the radio station decides to use the internet to watch their music video or buy their song on iTunes, they will most likely end up with the “unclean” version. And since most children these days have smart phones or unrestricted internet access, this is a recipe for disaster.

These two songs are designed to glamorize drinking and the club life. For their music videos, instead of having alcohol make everyone have a good time, they should show what drinking and the club scene really look like. They should use real footage of the vehicular accidents, homicide, suicide, rape, hangover, broken marriage, abandoned children, and ultimate misery that comes from rockin’ the club likes its dynamite.

And before you leave a comment about how a glass of wine won’t send you to hell (Moderationists are always so classy with their “glass of wine” when they really mean “6 pack”), let me point out that these songs aren’t about moderation, they are about a party lifestyle.

As parents we need to make sure that we don’t glamorize sin that can destroy our lives like dynamite.


Elaine said...

I agree wholeheartedly, whoever you want to blame society or the media, children are being targeted for sexualization and the "party lifestyle" at a younger and younger age. Have you seen the french lingerie targeted at girls ages 7 - 9? However, my view is that it is my job to raise my children, not Disney's. Whatever my daughter watches I watch with her and if I don't like it she doesn't watch it again. If I model the behaviour and instill in her the morals and values that she should have as a young woman then I pray she will know what to do when situations arise.

Tommy Mann said...

Thank you for your comment Elaine. I totally agree with you. My daughter will only watch what we decide is appropriate. We need more parents to pay that much attention to what their children are being influenced by.