Youth Culture Window
An ex-Disney star releasing a sexually explicit song: surprising… or expected?
Demi Lovato’s music has always been fun and family-friendly. The former Disney star has even worked positive and encouraging messages into her songs from time to time. But her latest tune offers none of those qualities.
Hey, anything goes when “song of the summer” is on the line….
Demi Lovato knows what it’s like to be at the very top…and the very bottom. The super-talented actress/singer got her start on the Disney Channel sitcom, Sonny with a Chance and then went on to star in their Camp Rock films. Along the way, Lovato released music of her own and built a huge teen following, most of which were young girls.
But in late 2010, Lovato entered treatment for eating disorders, self-injury, drug abuse, and more. Sadly, her fall was a very public one and brought about the end of her relationship with Disney. But Lovato’s a fighter, and after a successful stint in rehab, she emerged stronger and released a great song entitled Skyscraper that talked about rising from the ashes. (We liked the song so much we developed a resource for our MUSIC DISCUSSIONS page using the tune as a great jump starter for one of Jesus’ most important teachings.)
Since then, Lovato has kept a fairly low profile. But her newest song, Cool for the Summer, will put her back in the spotlight…and crosshairs.
Here’s the first verse of her new song:
Tell me what you want, what you like
It's okay I'm a little curious too
Tell me if it's wrong if it's right, I don't care
I can keep a secret could you?
At first glance, it seems like she’s talking about a summer fling with that special someone – a very popular topic for today’s music. But as she moves into the chorus, she gets much more graphic in her description of desire:
Got my mind on your body and your body on my mind
Got a taste for the cherry I just need to take a bite
Don't tell your mother kiss one another
Die for each other
We're cool for the summer
Take me down into your paradise
Don't be scared cause I'm your body type
Just something that we wanna try
Cause you and I
We're cool for the summer
Regardless what you think of homosexual activity, you might be concerned about Lovato’s graphic sexual imagery (“Got a taste for the cherry… take me down into your paradise”), her lack of concern for any morality (“Tell me if it’s wrong if it’s right, I don’t care”), and her desire for secrecy (“I can keep a secret could you? …Don’t tell your mother”).
For those who missed the fact that she is describing “girl on girl”, there is no doubt. The teaser music video shows suggestive images and two bikini tops being thrown into a pool. On top of that, some music fans have accused Lovato of ripping off Katy Perry’s I Kissed a Girl, a song about a same-sex attraction. And when Lovato responded to those accusations, she didn’t deny the song’s meaning, she simply claimed that “more than one female artist can kiss a girl and like it.”
But homosexuality is still a highly controversial subject in the minds of many Americans. How will Lovato handle the repercussions of her musical (and sexual) decisions?
Actually, she tells us in the second verse:
Even if they judge
F**k it, I'll do the time
I just wanna have some fun with you
Yeah, I hope we don’t catch this song/video playing on Disney Radio (it’s already in the top 20 of iTunes).
So, what happened to Demi? Did the summer heat get to her? Is this just a clever use of shock to try and regain relevance in the entertainment industry?
Or is this just another example of melting morals?
Perfect Timing…and Parents’ Responsibility
Lovato’s timing couldn’t be better…and I’m not talking about her rhythm. Her pro-homosexual tune comes on the heels of the historic ruling by the SCOTUS to legalize gay marriage in all fifty states. But it’s not just legislators who support gay marriage; according to a Gallup Poll, 55% of all Americans (and 78% of young Americans) also believe same-sex marriage should exist for members of the LGBT community. In other words, Demi has her finger on the nation’s pulse…and she’s synced her music to its desires.
That means parents and youth workers have their work cut out for them in communicating biblical truth in a “do what feels good” culture. Much could be said about this subject, but here are just a couple quick and practical suggestions for handling songs like Cool for the Summer.
- Always research what your kids are listening to. It takes about 6 minutes to read a song’s lyrics (on Google) and watch its accompanying music video (on YouTube). This is time well spent on behalf of your kids. Demi’s song is proof that artists can change more than just their tune. You can’t make any assumptions about a singer’s present based on their past. No matter how well you think you know an artist, and no matter what their track record has been, always take the time to investigate what messages they’re offering your kids.
- Engage your kids in biblically-based discussions about their response. Relax; you don’t have to be a theologian to have a faith-based conversation with your kids about “what the Bible says about homosexuality” (or any other subject). Simply look at how the topic intersects your kids’ lives and ask questions that lead them to discover truth on their own. Here are a few ideas for this particular song:
- What do you think Demi’s song is about?
- How does this song make you feel about Demi’s choices and morals?
- In the song’s lyrics, Demi says, “Don’t tell your mother.” Is it a good thing to exclude parents from important decisions? Why?
- Do you think that Demi is genuinely interested in another girl…or is she just trying to fit in with our culture’s new embrace of homosexuality?
- What do you think God would say to Demi?
- How would God have us pray for Demi?
In her latest song, Demi Lovato talks about staying “cool for the summer.” If we’re not careful, our children will turn into “fools for the summer.” Let’s not let that happen. Let’s inject ourselves into the conversation for the sake of our kids.
David R. Smith
is a 15-year youth ministry veteran who helps youth
workers and parents through his writing, training, and speaking. David specializes in sharing the
gospel, and equipping others do the same. He co-authored his first book this year,
Ministry By Teenagers
. David provides free
resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org
David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.
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