Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)
The Song: “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” by Katy Perry
Main Point of Discussion: Avoid evil; be holy because God is holy.
Vital Info Before You Get Started: (The following should help you contextualize this very popular song so you can have a great discussion about it with your kids.)
- The music video for “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”—closing in on 30 million YouTube views—features Katy Perry very much against type. She plays her totally geeky alter-ego, Kathy Beth Terry, who manages to break out of her “brace face” shell, get transformed inside and out, and experience a night of debauchery that she won’t soon forget.
- As such “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” was atop the iTunes chart at the time of this writing and jumped a whopping 32 spots on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of June 25.
- Jonathan blogged about the track and video recently [http://blog.thesource4ym.com/archive/2011/06/14/katy-perrys-last-friday-night.aspx], noting that “an article on Billboard.com informs us that Perry has been ‘taking her Kathy Beth Terry alter-ego to the next level, launching Facebook and Twitter pages for the fictional eighth grader.’” He concludes with this declaration: “This video won’t be going away anytime soon.”
- IMPORTANT NOTE TO PARENT: We at The Source for Parents believe that certain elements in our youth culture can serve as good discussion jump starters with students. At the same time, we would never hope to introduce students to a negative influence that they haven’t already encountered. This balance is a delicate one. In our experience most students, churched and unchurched, keep pretty current with music and music videos. Thanks to YouTube, MTV.com, and iTunes, the most popular music videos and songs are free to access only a click away.
- This insanely popular video is anchored by a lot of humor, as well as fun cameos by Kenny G, Corey Feldman, Debbie Gibson, Rebecca Black, and some of the Glee cast. But the humor in the music video—while portraying some of the immorality you’ve come to expect from Perry—actually softens the impact of the song’s completely decadent lyrics. It’s a frog-in-the-kettle strategy that controversial TV shows have used to gain widespread acceptance: Couch bad behavior in a humorous, non-threatening light, and the behavior gradually seems “normal” after repeated viewings.
- Although your kids have probably already watched the “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” video, we aren’t saying it’s crucial to play it for your family members. But the audio version of the tune is pretty racy all by itself, and there’s really no viable “clean” version of the song available—the most censors have done is obscure the word damn while leaving the words screwed and ménage a trios…go figure.
- Above all, don’t appear as if you have a “canned” discussion in your head and rattle off questions like a teacher giving a pop quiz—your kids get enough of that in school. This is a guide, primarily—not a verbatim script. Just familiarize yourself with the content here and start a conversation in the most natural, unforced way you know how.
Introducing the Song
We’re about to take a deeper look at the worldview behind the big pop song “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.).” It’s a tune you guys are probably already familiar with—and it contains a lot of pretty raw subject matter, as well as words. We’ll get to all of that during our discussion, but let’s agree together, here and now, to keep our minds and eyes and ears focused on the quest for truth as we check out the song in more detail. (Pass out the lyrics and play the song.)
There’s a stranger in my bed
There’s a pounding my head
Glitter all over the room
Pink flamingos in the pool
I smell like a minibar
DJs passed out in the yard
Barbies on the barbeque
There’s a hickie or a bruise
Pictures of last night
Ended up online
It’s a blacktop blur
But I’m pretty sure it ruled
Last Friday night
Yeah, we danced on tabletops
And we took too many shots
Think we kissed but I forgot
Last Friday night
Yeah, we maxed our credit cards
And got kicked out of the bar
So we hit the boulevard
Last Friday night
We went streaking in the park
Skinny dipping in the dark
Then had a ménage a trios
Last Friday night
Yeah, I think we broke the law
Always say we’re gonna stop
This Friday night, do it all again (2X)
Trying to connect the dots
Don’t know what to tell my boss
Think the city towed my car
Chandelier is on the floor
With my favorite party dress
Warrants out for my arrest
Think I need a ginger ale
That was such an epic fail
This Friday night, do it all again
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):
Q: What’s the message of this song?
A: Bad/dangerous behavior is fun—so much so that Katy can’t wait to repeat her actions next Friday night.
Q: How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this song?
A: Obviously this song endorses stuff that isn’t pleasing to God. But we should remember that people who pursue this lifestyle are hurting inside—and they want it all to happen again next Friday night not so much because they’re in for a repeat of total pleasure…but because they’re in hot pursuit of pleasure that only God can give.
Q: How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this song to actually living out those opinions?
A: First we must ask God to guard our hearts and minds and lead us not into temptation. Second we must have compassion for those who pursue the lifestyle that Katy sings about in “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.).” They’re very likely in some kind of pain and actually need the freedom that only Christ can give.
Where to Take It from Here:
Wherever it feels natural. If these questions lead to a longer discussion on the topic, wonderful! (There’s a guide just after this paragraph that helps you do just that.) If your kids are barely uttering grunts, don’t get discouraged—the next time it feels right, try out another song. Keep engaging them.
For Deeper Discussion:
(If your kids seem into diving in deeper and looking at what the Bible has to say on the subject, the following discussion guide can help take you there.)
“Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” is a catchy single that a whole lot of people love—but why is it so popular? Is it because of the music video? Is it because of the catchy melody? Or do a lot of listeners love Perry’s racy lyrics? The Bible definitely has a few things to say about the content of this song—as well as an infinitely better alternative.
More Discussion Questions:
- HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: Before we dive in, how many of you have seen the video for “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”?
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: For those of you who’ve seen the video, how does the video’s content match up with the song’s lyrics? (If your family members are getting stuck, ask: In other words, if the lyrics are incredibly raw, why is the video mostly funny and cute? How does that combination affect your reaction to the overall song?)
It can be argued that the humor in the music video is a marketing tool—one that softens the impact of the song’s very decadent lyrics. Have you ever heard of the frog-in-the-kettle phenomenon? (That if you put a frog in a pot filled with room-temperature water and gradually turn up the heat, the frog won’t attempt to escape until it’s too late…) It’s the same strategy that once-controversial TV shows have used to gain widespread acceptance: Couch bad behavior in a humorous, non-threatening light, and the behavior gradually seems “normal” after repeated viewings. In fact, it’s called “normalization.”
- HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: Okay, let’s name all the whacked-out stuff that Katy is singing about doing in this song—just shout ‘em out! (Parent—answers you’re looking for: Sleeping around with strangers, getting drunk, passing out, wild spending, rowdiness, deviant sexual experimentation [ménage a trios], breaking the law, property damage—and wanting to do it all over again next week!)
- Parent Note: Use your own discernment as to whether or not you want to say the following statement to your family members:
In case you guys don’t know—and we can assume Katy either believes you all know already or wants you all to know—
- ménage a trios
means sex between three people. Definitely not an action God’s thrilled with!
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: This tune is basically an admission of sinful behavior on many levels. What would you say is the primary emotion you hear in Katy’s voice as she sings these lyrics? (Parent—answer you’re looking for: pride, happiness, joy…)
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Do you believe that most students you know can relate to this song—or even wish the song was about their lives on Friday nights?
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Why do you suppose Katy added the line about doing it all again next Friday? Do you believe most people who spend their Friday nights behaving like this are out to repeat pleasure…or are they in a constant search to find pleasure they can’t quite attain?
Read the following passage from the Bible:
- 1 Peter 1:13-16 (NIV)
13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
- ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What was different about our lives—and minds—in the days when we conformed (or gave in) to our own evil desires? (Parent—answer you’re looking for: We were ignorant then.)
- ASK ONE: Is it possible for us to be holy in the same way God is holy? (Parent—answer you’re looking for: Yes! But only with God’s help!)
- HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: What can we do in our individual lives (and as a family) to steer clear of the behaviors and actions that Katy sings about in “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”?
It shouldn’t surprise us that pop singers such as Katy Perry (and many others) have songs like this on the radio. Bad behavior and pop music go together like peanut butter and jelly—it’s always been that way, and it will always be that way.
But while we can’t stop these songs from being created, we can make choices about how we’ll respond to them as mature believers in Christ. Not that doing so is any easy task—it’s not! Today more than ever, it’s becoming harder to take a stand for Christ when so much of the world views Christians in a negative light. Fortunately, though, our job is to point out Jesus…not our own awesomeness.
Before we close in prayer, I want you all to close your eyes and think about people you know who are attracted to the things Katy Perry is singing about—people who would want to recreate the lyrical images in real life. Of course, we need only look at the news headlines to know that there are consequences to living in the manner Katy celebrates: You all probably heard about the famousJackass MTV show member, Ryan Dunn, who last week left a club with twice as much alcohol in his system than the law allows, crashed his car at more than 120 miles per hour, and died with his car engulfed in flames. Dunn’s passenger died, too.
Let’s pray that God will lead us not into such temptation—and that we’ll be messengers of hope to all those who could end up being the next Ryan Dunn, searching for the pleasure they can’t quite reach, no matter how many Friday nights they spend going for it.
Close in Prayer
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for parents on his website TheSource4Parents.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.