Watch your ears picBy: Jahneille Edwards (October 2010)

A few months ago I was accosted over the phone by a music research company soliciting people to take a survey. As a part of my maturation and emotional development, I have made it a point to not be rude to people, particularly random strangers who take up unwarranted time. 

Anyway, this woman convinced me to sign up to take this FM music survey based upon my listening habits with the enticement of a whole five-dollar reward. To make a long story short, I began to take the music surveys as they arrived in my inbox; but as time went on I realized that I was not as familiar with the popular music samples that they played. In fact I noticed through the collective sighs and eye rolls of my brother and sister that listening to music with me became somewhat of an annoying experience. Literally every song that played over the radio afforded me an opportunity to judge (or critique) content, vocals and creativity. Rihanna no longer served her purpose for me “easy listening” but as a glaring reminder of what a cacophonous breakdown of any vocal ability accompanied by unimaginative lyrics and recycled rhythms can induce physical pain in my body.

Putting aside my “judgmental” (I prefer critical) tendencies I realized that this listening experience was not as casual and passive as I had previously thought. To be honest I cannot pin point the exact time and location when certain facets of popular and or secular music disagreed with me but as I grown in my faith my tastes have certainly diminished.

Whatever one’s current opinion on secular music is, it is impossible to deny that once Christ has entered one’s life that they are not changed. Though we may initially be resistant to the leading of the Holy Spirit within our lives, if we are committed to continuing and furthering our relationship with Christ, it is only a matter of time where initial struggles become victorious testimonies. When it comes to particular medium of music the same rules apply. I can recall despising the contemporary Christian radio station my mother insisted on playing every time we drove in the car. It’s not that I was not Christian, it is just that compared to (then popular) sounds DMX or 112 they were inexplicably “whack”. Yes I was twelve, yes I wanted to affiliate myself with the musical tastes of my generation so I could dance and sing along whenever the song played but I did not realize that music is so much more than a hot beat or descriptive lyrics.

Singing and committing the lyrics of “Peaches and Cream” to memory in retrospect was not such a great idea. At the time when the song came out my friends had grandiose plans to make a step routine to the song. I cannot lie I stood up and clapped while 13-14 year old buddies delivered what I thought at the time to be a riveting performance of a song that references cunnilingus. The saturation of hyper-sexuality, materialism, narcissism and many times violence found in many “secular” songs feeds a mind these values, clouds \ perspective, and essentially pushes God away. His voice is not as clear if “Alejandro” (or anything else produced by the Gaga machine) is playing in your head. A long time ago I remember reading a quote from the band Slipknot (scary headache inducing music) stating, “garbage in is garbage out”. Essentially you become what you consume. Choose to consume the word of God, and positive and uplifting material, and that is what you can give. Mindless consumption of what is produced by those who do not espouse to any value system should be approached cautiously. This is not a blanket indictment but I encourage all to use wisdom and to set some standards. Think about how the song makes you feel, the images that come to mind and the direction your body goes in while listening (see previous example of the 112 “classic”) and determine if this mirrors the standard God holds you to (“holiness” sound familiar?) and decide. Remember it is not being “judgmental” but a discriminating (insert English aristocratic voice here) consumer!