It’s Summer 2013 and Everything on the Radio is the Worst: 7 Quick Takes XXIII

by | Aug 2, 2013 | Music, Parenting, Pop Culture | 19 comments


I feel like I need to preface this with a warning: A Rant is Coming. I’m not big on rants, as a rule. Reading them OR writing them. Because I really do mostly think even this fallen world is pretty wonderful. But this started as the first of my seven takes and was so, so very long that it just took over the whole thing. Bear with me, we’ll be back to happy and constructive soon . . . 

Apparently, the Bad Catholic would disagree with me, but I think last summer was a great time to be a human being with a radio. The songs of summer were catchy and mostly morally neutral. Which, really, for background music at a theme park or swim team party is good enough for me.

We had: girl gives boy her phone number, a bit forward, sure, but she leaves without him; there was a cautionary tale about shacking up; the one about a fella trying to patch things up with his old lady; and a song that wasn’t in English so nobody knew what we were singing about, but, hey, it turns out that it’s all: modest is hottest, who knew? Even the Katy Perry song wasn’t bad. (There was that whistle nonsense, which really was awful, but at least it was the only one all summer that had me diving for the radio dial.) 

But good heavens above the songs this summer are just not okay with me. Let’s have a look shall we? These seem to be the contenders for “the” song of summer 2013:


“Blurred Lines”
—Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams


Well, we saved the worst for first — because this is the song that seems to be winning. It’s ubiquitous. Critics have called it misogynistic and “rapey”  but if you are in public this summer, you can’t get away from it. And apparently, the video is basically pornography. Terrific.

This is what Thicke had to say IN DEFENSE of his video to GQ (there’s some language if you click over):

We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections,
and everything that is completely derogatory towards women. Because all
three of us are happily married with children, we were like, “We’re the
perfect guys to make fun of this.”

People say, “Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?” I’m
like, “Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve
never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.” So we just
wanted to turn it over on its head and make people go, “Women and their
bodies are beautiful. Men are always gonna want to follow them around.”

I’m just trying to imagine what he might have said that could possibly have sounded worse if he wasn’t trying to convince you that his video was lovely.
It makes you wonder what Mr. Seaver’s TV son and his real-life son could possibly find to make small talk about at a party. 


It’s really difficult for me to understand how we’ve gotten to the point where not only does this music exists (risque music is nothing new after all) but it’s apparently considered all in good fun and appropriate for all ages. And if you think there aren’t YouTube videos of little kids covering this song, well, you’d be wrong.


“Get Lucky”
—Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers

Compared to the above, this one is downright charming, but still — it’s about a girl who is staying up all night to “have fun” while the fella is staying up all night to “get some.” There are SO many phrases in the lyrics of this song that I do not wish to explain to my children.


“Can’t Hold Us” 
– Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton

As far as my kids happening to hear it, I guess this one isn’t so bad (at least it’s not their other current song). But can I just really dislike it for NOT MAKING ANY SENSE? “So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us.” Huh? Since when do ceilings hold us? They are above us. Does he mean support us? . . . or confine us? And how would putting our hands up help in either case?  

I don’t know, I’m tired of thinking about it.

 “We Can’t Stop”
—Miley Cyrus


So this one seems to be in competition with number one for the title of “Song by the Child of a Famous Father With a Super-Racy Video and the Most Inappropriate Lyrics Ever.”
I can only hope that all those kids who watched her on the Disney Channel aren’t now singing along as she promotes doing lines in the bathroom, and “dancing with molly” (which is apparently what the kids are calling doing ecstasy these days), or watching as she simulates sex acts in the video (or so I hear).
Remember back in 2009 when she wondered if she’d fit in to the land of “fame excess”? Whatever that is, I think it’s safe to say she does. Hey-y-y-y-y it’s a party in the U-S-A.


 “I Love It”
—Icona Pop featuring Charli XCX

I don’t know, I guess I don’t have a huge problem with this one. There’s some unladylike language in it and repeated crashing of one’s car into the bridge and lots of simultaneous and contradictory not caring and loving it.

Apparently Sweden is ALSO a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

I do care. And I don’t particularly love it. 

 “Come & Get It”
—Selena Gomez
This song really makes me miss “Call Me Maybe.” Miss Jepsen seems awfully demure in comparison to Miss Gomez (Na-na-na-na, Na-na-na-na.) But it is catchy and she does claim to be committed “for life” to the gentleman who is invited to “come and get it,” so I guess that’s something.
Hey, did you know she used to be on Barney?
“The Other Side”
—Jason Derulo


Because if you’re friends with a guy, you really should plan to get drunk and sleep with him one night, because otherwise how would you know?
What could possibly go wrong? 
— bonus takes —
I can’t tell you how much I’d like to be able to say to Taylor Swift, “When I was twenty-two, I was a wife and a mother and running a home and taking care of a family. What you seem to be feeling is fourteen.” Except it would be utterly untrue. When I was twenty-two I was pretty much right where she seems to be, but with less clubbing and more binge-reading. Fortunately for me the Good Lord and my husband-to-be rescued me from all that shallow frivolity when I was twenty-four. So, Taylor, there’s hope sweetie.


I’d also like to tell Bruno Mars that if you’re doing it right, it can take you to paradise and totally NOT lock you out of heaven. There’s actually quite a lot of theology of the body going on in that song. But, it, um, lacks subtlety. 

So, yeah. Slim pickin’s this summer. I guess I should take my own advice and just turn off the radio. But then I might miss this:

or click here, I can’t find one that will show up on an iPad, sorry!
 “Cups (Pitch Perfect’s When I’m Gone)”
—Anna Kendrick

It’s totally my favorite catchy, silly, fun, summer song of the year. I also think it’s the ONLY catchy, silly, fun, summer song of the year. I love the story behind it too. (I haven’t seen the movie in which it appears, so I can’t vouch for that. But the video is awesome. I have every intention of teaching the kids how to do this.)

And lest you think I’m knocking pop music as a genre or pop culture in general, I AM NOT. That’s what makes this so frustrating. 

I know there are plenty of Catholics who do not wish to spend one single moment on anything less than the sublime, but I am with Bonnie on this one. I like pop music. I also like classical music, and that’s what we usually listen to during the school year. But in the summertime, I enjoy being able to rock out with my kids to some catchy tunes in the car. But that’s hard to do when so many songs are flat-out not-okay like they are this year.

It’s not intentional, but we do end up a bit sequestered during the school year. We do school-work at home each morning, our afternoons are usually spent at sports practices at the park or in the car running errands. My kids really don’t have many outside influences. In the summer, we spend a lot more time out in the culture in places with piped-in music. Usually, I consider that a good thing. We’re out, having fun, experiencing the culture, interacting with the people. But it means I don’t have as much control over their exposure to music. Frankly, it’s bugging me this year. I’m feeling imposed upon. My eleven year old pays attention, so we’ve had to have some talks that probably could have waited if I’d had my druthers.

At least I can control it in my own car. We’ll just have to keep trying to remember the words to “Dynamite,” which for reasons unknown to me is the one pop song that all of my children know some of the words to.

And speaking of Bonnie . . . we drove out to Goodfield from Chicago this week to meet Bonnie and the gang IRL, including new baby Joseph, and had a super lovely time. Her kids are sweet and charming and chatty, even James who chats without talking. I think he must know he’s a miracle, he’s just so happy!

Somehow in the uploading process I managed to delete the pictures I wanted to keep and uploaded the outtakes instead. But, even those are pretty great:

Congratulations to the Engstroms on their new baby and general awesomeness and we look forward to getting together again next summer!


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!



  1. Anonymous

    I rarely watch videos, but I kept hearing about Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines video, so one night my hubby and I watched it, and we were shocked that the chicks were running around topless and wearing hideous shoes! I don't understand why this video was even allowed to be made. I wonder what these guys' wives think about this monstrosity… Wait a minute. It's on my TV right now. I was just watching the movie about Joan Jett and the Runaways and now this mess is on… lol

  2. Renee

    What is so sad is they 'clean' them up so parents will buy the Kidzbop versions.

    “In an age when Rihanna dominates the airwaves with praise for the tenets of sado-masochism, Kidz Bop satisfies a need for strict parents and their kids. But theirs is by nature an ephemeral audience; at some point, every kid that was ever into Kidz Bop comes to the harsh realization that it is just not very cool.”

    More money, from dumb parents.

    At this point it is censorship for profit, if an artist really wanted to create/express ‘Get Lucky’ and “Blurred Lines” that is there right in which I really do not want to infringe upon. But this isn’t expression or art, they are selling a product in which expression isn’t the goal. The only goal is get my 11 year old to get me to download this song for her.

    musical suburbanism, pt. 1: Kidz Bop and the commodification of kids’ listening

    “Whenever you are marketing to children, you are in some respects marketing to the parents. You want to make a product that they will feel comfortable with, that they feel will be comfortable for the child and that they’ll enjoy.”

    The Devil can have his music back. (funny cartoon)

  3. Kat

    Ok, so I had two minutes earlier this morning before it was time to wake up the fam and I thought I would read your quick takes. 5 minutes later, I thought I had better come back and finish reading/watching "Cups" later. I hadn't heard it, and me and my 5-year-old both enjoyed it! And I had kept wanting to read the English lyrics to Gangnam Style after the last 5 dance parties my kids had had to it. Fun!

  4. Kim

    I always listen to music in the school year as I drive my dd to school. I haven't heard any music since May but those songs were all debuting then so I heard of them. Blurred lines, I don't like that song at all and don't get the appeal. I never saw the video and now am aghast at it–omg. Get lucky–awful song. I turned it off when it came on. My dd was like, hey I like that song!. Ummmm NOOO you are not allowed to like that song! LOL. Miley Cyrus is just foul anymore. My dd is old enough to have been a part of the whole hannah montanna scene–which I didn't care for, but now she is just beyond gross. The only one I like is the Iconic Pop song. I like the aspect that it says the mom is from the seventies and the dd from the 90s –since that is like me and my dd and she is always in space too so we laugh about it.

    • Kendra

      Hmmm . . . maybe so, if she didn't have to be a nineties you-know-what. I'm going to have to stick with not loving it.

  5. Jeanette

    Totally agree with you. My husband and I just had the same discussion regarding the "can't hold us" lyrics. What is he even trying to say? Sigh. I think I must be getting old, but I can barely stomach what is on the radio these days.

  6. Anna

    I agree with you about the songs on your list. I do really like Pink's Just Give Me a Reason, which I still consider current even if it is on it's way out. I wouldn't endorse the video though.

    • Kendra

      I almost included that one, I agree with you. My son and I had a nice talk about that song, about how most songs are about finding love or breaking up but that song is about fighting for the love you already have. It's a nice change!

  7. Erica Saint

    Yep. I agree with you. We usually switch between pop, alternative rock, and Christian radio stations when we are in the car. This summer we got so tired of the flipping back and forth that we just left the Christian station on.
    I love the pictures of your day with Bonnie!

  8. Holly

    The video for that Miley Cyrus song is awful. Definitely prefer "Party in the USA"!

  9. Amy

    We don't normally listen to pop music at our house and everything you have stated above is why! When my oldest was three we were jammin in the car to a pop song and she was singing away and I just didn't like it and told my husband that we weren't playing this kind of music in the car or house anymore. I then found the K-Love radio station (it is a Christian music station). If you haven't listen to it before you should! It is awesome and if you don't have a station where you are you can listen to them on the web! It is either K-Love or Disney music at our house…or audio books!

    • Kendra

      We don't do the Christian music station. I understand why people do, but for me personally, I'd much rather listen to the classical station or a book or nothing. I just don't think their music is very good. Well-meaning for sure, but just not that well-executed.

      I linked to a Bad Catholic post I didn't agree with at the top of this post, so I'll even it out by linking to one of his that I do agree with, even if I wouldn't quite go so far as his title suggests: 5 Reasons to Kill Christian Music

  10. bobbi @ revolution of love

    I agree with so much of this. Last summer I was loving my Spotify playlist. This summer…well, I am listening to last summer's songs again. I love the pics of you and Bonnie. I'm so glad I found your blog. 🙂

  11. Tamie

    I haven't heard most of those but oh my gosh #1 is killing me! It is on all the time (I don't listen hardly ever but why is it always playing when I do???). And it is so sleazy but the tune is catchy and I find myself humming it later and then wanting to scream. Wish I had never heard it!! The other that drives me nuts is the Selena one…has she no feelings of self worth? It's just awfully pathetic sounding and I feel sorry for her each time I hear it.

  12. Paige Kellerman

    Oh my goodness, I was just thinking this same thing. Usually there's a FEW neutral pop songs during the summer, but it's been pretty blatant during Summer 2013. I love pop music so much, but what the heck?

  13. Andrea

    Hey, I could say that to Taylor Swift! I am, however, unusual in that aspect I suppose. Nowadays anyways.

  14. Mark Taylor

    Good thing I don’t and never plan on having children. Although the music of our parent’s day was considered out there. People have been ranting about “the devil’s music” since 1954 or thereabouts. Just some food for thought.

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