A few weeks ago I was in my car with the kidlets, driving on the freeway and listening to the radio. My 7-yr-old son started singing along to one of the popular songs he recognized—Grenade by Bruno Mars—and even my 3-yr-old daughter chimed in. Now, I’d heard that song PLENTY of times before, but I guess I’d never paid attention to the lyrics. Something about those little kid voices really drove them home, though, and when that happened, my jaw pretty much hit the floorboard.


Now, if you’re part of the YA community, you’re undoubtedly aware of the heated debate over whether or not YA books should promote good role models and healthy relationships.  Love interests in particular, especially in paranormals, are hotly contested.  The classic example is Mr. Sparkle Pants himself, Edward. Is he a psycho, murderous stalker or the epitome of true love?

I’ll leave that decision up to you.

I’m curious, though.  We talk about books a lot, but what about music?  Do you all ever ponder the messages about life and love being relayed in popular songs lately?  Do you think they’re promoting unhealthy relationships?

For example, back to Grenade. Now, I know several people who think it’s a great song. So romantic!  So sweet!

My thoughts, after listening to the lyrics spill from my children’s mouths?  So obsessive!  So creepy!

No, really. Here are a few lyrics from this “romantic” and “sweet” song:

I’d catch a grenade for ya
Throw my hand on a blade for ya
I’d jump in front of a train for ya
You know I’d do anything for ya

I would go through all this pain
Take a bullet straight through my brain
Yes, I would die for you, baby

Um, okay. Because nothing says, “I love you” quite like flying body parts, spurting blood, and oozing bits of brain.

It goes on to say:

But you won’t do the same

Yep. That’s a little thing I like to call Not-Being-an-Obsessive-Crazy-Person.  Basically, the narrator of this song is lamenting the fact that his girlfriend will not engage in a Romeo-and-Juliet-mutual-suicide-pact kind of love with him.  You know what I say to that? BRAVO GIRLFRIEND!

Now, let’s take a look at another popular song, this one by Eminen and Rihanna. First, the narrator talks about a physically abusive relationship but begs the girl to come back, promising to change. At the end, though, he says this:

I apologize
Even though I know it’s lies
I’m tired of the games
I just want her back
I know I’m a liar
If she ever tries to f*cking leave again
I’mma tie her to the bed
And set the house on fire

Dude. Do you really need me to tell you all the ways in which threatening to burn your significant other to death is Not. Okay?

But—wait! It gets better! Here is S.O.’s response:

Just gonna stand there
And watch me burn
But that’s alright
Because I like
The way it hurts

Note:  When your ex threatens to light you on fire, the appropriate response is not “oh, that’s okay—I kind of like it.”  No, it’s RUN YOUR BUTT off to the nearest police station and get a restraining order, STAT!

(Obviously, these are just a couple of examples. I’m positive there are other disturbing send-your-girlfriend-up-in-flames songs out there, just like there are songs where turning your significant other into a pile of ash remains a no-no, too.)

Back to my kids. I wasn’t sure how to handle it at first—should I turn every time those songs came on?  Quit listening to the radio with them altogether?  But that’s not really my style.

Ultimately, my decision regarding songs is the same as the one I support for books.  I talked to both of my kids—especially the older one—about how ridiculous I found the ideas in those particular songs. We all had a good laugh, and now it’s pretty much a running joke every time those songs come on.

What do you all think? If you think books with unhealthy relationships are problematic, do you extend this to songs as well?  And if so, how do you/would you handle it with kids?

Also, tune back in on Thursday, when I’ll post another ARC giveaway!

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Posted by houndrat on Thursday Jun 17, 2010 Under writing, Young Adult

So, Gretchen McNeil invited me to do a post on Books That Changed My World. If you’re on twitter, you’ve probably seen the hashtag floating around. I don’t know about you, but I get excited to read those tweets. Somehow, knowing my fellow tweetmeisters love so many of the same books as me shrinks the world just a little bit more.

Anyway, I feel like there are SO MANY books that made a huge impact on me, but I’m only going to name a few.

Desert Dog, Lion Hound, Big Red—basically, all of the dog books by Jim Kjelgaard. I gobbled these up when I was little, and I attribute them to instilling in me my great love of dogs that persists today. (You hear that, naughty Ridgebacks? You owe Jim. Big time.)

Big red

(image from amazon.com)

Dune by Frank Herbert: No, I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, but wow—this book just amazed me. I loved the epicness of it, and it first introduced me to the idea of the “chosen one” in fiction. Really, no wonder I became such a rabid Buffy and Matrix fan later on.


A Wrinkle in Time: The first book that really drove the point home that love conquers all. Even on other planets. With large brain monsters.


Fletch by Gregory MacDonald: Oh my, how I love this book. Fletch was probably my first anti-hero—charming, dry, and majorly naughty. I credit this book with starting me on my love affair with mysteries.


(image from amazon.com)

Bridget Jones’s Diary: My first foray into chick lit. Awesomesauce. Probably the reason I like injecting a little humor into most of my writing. Plus, I’m pretty sure I quoted bits of this for years afterwards.

bridget jones

Brideshead Revisited: One of my favorite books of all time. The relationships, the humor, the tragedy as everyone struggled to reconcile their religious beliefs with their lives—it’s all so amazing.


Twilight: Okay, say what you will about sparkly vamps, but this is the book that got me writing again after a long hiatus. So I owe it a huge debt of gratitude. Good Vampire.


I could go on and on and on, but I won’t. Instead, please share books that changed YOUR life–I’d love to know!

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