When teens tell me that profane lyrics don't matter, I scoff. They say they can't understand them, since of course they neglected to see the explicit label when they purchased the song or have no reason to ever consider what these singers are talking about. Or, as one of my fave youth ministry gurus, Jonathan McKee, like to point out, teens see the absence of an explicit label and assume it must be all good. Besides, they only like the beat.
I just roll my eyes.
If lyrics don't matter, then all these thug rappers could be singing about lessons they picked up from watching Barney the purple dinosaur, right? If lyrics don't matter, then rockers could just as well be singing about good times they had while on the swing set. If the only thing that matters is the beat, then why do singers feel like a message they feel passionate about is so important to communicate?
Lyrics do matter. They tell us what the singer cares about. It reveals where their passions lie. But let's not kid ourselves. This teen generation is not alone in not paying attention to lyrics.
Let's take one song for example. Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. Does anybody know what this song is about? Does anyone care, except for the fact that it says Hallelujah about 1,000 times. Do you know how many countless church people, especially from the older generation, have sent me links of various people, including younger children, singing this song, because of how beautiful it sounds?
Would these people still advocate for someone to sing this in church if they realized it talked about sexual love? http://www.lyricinterpretations.com/leonard-cohen/hallelujah has some insightful meanings to the lyrics, which you can read if you're interested.
My purpose in mentioning the song is not to justify or condemn it. My simple point is that people, of all ages, might think differently of the song if they thought for two minutes about the lyrics.
Teens as well, if they considered the message of a song, and if they cared enough to contrast that message with their own core values, might listen for more than just the beat.