Yesterday, Today, & FOREVER The King of Pop

Michael Jackson: Lyrics affect the way our children think, act


Special to the Observer-Dispatch

After Michael Jackson died, I couldn’t help but gravitate to the radio
station in our area that was playing 24/7 Michael Jackson tunes.

I had forgotten how fun his music was and how clean. There wasn’t a
song played that I didn’t feel was inappropriate for my middle school
daughters, which was a good thing because they were in the car
listening with me. That is a rarity in today’s music, even on the radio
during the day.

During “Pretty Young Thing,” my 14-year-old asked, “Are any singers
today like Michael Jackson, Mom?” That was an easy question to answer:

The music industry today has some good but a great deal of bad. Much of
the music contains lyrics inappropriate for our kids, including teens,
with videos and performances that are called entertainment but border
on soft pornography and are often offensive and difficult to sit
through. If you look at iTunes, the number of artists without “clean”
versions of their songs is a minority. That alone is a huge red flag.

Studies are clear that explicit lyrics do affect the way our kids think
and act. They shape our kids’ views of themselves and the world. Today,
catchy tunes often have lyrics that are inaudible but on paper are far
from what you’d want your tweens and teens belting out at a concert.

The onus is on us to get more involved and make sure the music our kids
are listening to really is a positive influence on them, the way
Jackson’s music was on us as kids. Anything less isn’t worth the price
of the download.

What Michael Jackson represents in entertainment and music has yet
to be reproduced in any way, shape or form. Our kids have yet to
experience what we were able to experience as kids from his music.
Today, we don’t have the peace of mind our parents had while we were
listening to his music or seeing his MTV videos or live performances.

Unless the music industry cleans up its act, I seriously doubt many of today’s musicians will have that sort of legacy.

Dr. Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe is a pediatrician and mother of two from
Wayland, Mass. She is founder and CEO of Pediatrics Now,, and can be reached at

Utica Observer-Dispatch

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