Music Discussions

Turn Down For What

Dynamic ImageThe Song: Turn Down for What

Main Point of Discussion: In a world where losing control is celebrated, God’s people live by giving Him control.

Vital Info. Before You Get Started: The following information should help you contextualize this very popular song so you can have a great discussion about it with your kids.


  • IMPORTANT NOTE TO PARENTS: We at The Source for Youth Ministry 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 teens to a negative influence that they haven’t already encountered. This balance is a delicate one. In our experience most teens, churched and unchurched, keep pretty current with music and music videos like this one. Thanks to YouTube,, and iTunes, the most popular music videos and songs are free to access only a click away. If you decide to use this, do so by catering it to fit your family’s needs.


  • The song made it in the top 10 of the Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and has continued to hold steady (has been in the charts for 19 weeks as of the writing of this discussion).


  • The video for DJ Snake & Lil Jon’s song, Turn Down for What, is going viral, probably for the same reason LMFAO’s video Sexy and I Know It went viral or Katy Perry’s ast Friday Night went viral… this generation likes humor. The Turn Down for What is probably more random and bizarre than funny… but it’s definitely one that kids are talking about (hence, viral).


  • The video features a guy losing control as he hears the music and humping everything in sight. This “loss of control” grows contagious and afflicts others, destroying everything in its path. The bizarre part is that the guy’s penis and one of the girl’s boobs seem to catch “the affliction” of the beat and begin gyrating out of control. Hard to even explain. (Read more about the song and video in our Youth Culture Window article here).


  • 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:
Remember this song by the Black Eyed Peas that went like this:

I gotta feeling…
That tonight’s gonna be a good night
That tonight’s gonna be a good, good night…

It was so catchy. It’s a common theme in songs. That song, I’ve Got a Feeling, by the Black Eyed Peas, was at the top of the charts all summer in 2009, then back on the charts again when they opened the 2011 Super Bowl Halftime show with the song.

More lyrics from this song:

I know that we’ll have a ball
If we get down and go out
And just lose it all
I feel stressed out
I won’t let it go
Lets go way out spaced out
And loosing all control

Fill up my cup Mazel tov
Look at her dancing
Just take it…OFF

It’s funny how many songs have this message of “lose control” and “do whatever you want. In fact Wiz Khalifa, Timbaland, Missy Elliott and Keri Hilson each have a song by that title… Lose Control… just in the last few years. As for the topic of “doing whatever you want”… the examples are endless. I think Miley probably provides one of the most memorable songs with that message, in her song last summer, We Can’t Stop, saying…

It’s our party we can do what we want
It’s our party we can say what we want
It’s our party we can love who we want
We can kiss who we want
We can sing what we want

And I think DJ Snake and Lil Jon took her advice, singing what they want. Because they didn’t seem to hold back with their simple little hit, Turn Down for What.

Song Lyrics: Turn Down for What

Fire up your loud
Another round of shots
Fire up you…

Turn down for what
Turn down for what
Turn down for what
Turn down for what

Fire up your loud
Another round of shots

Turn down for what
Turn down for what
Turn down for what
Turn down for what
Turn down for what

Fire up your loud
‘nother round of shots
Fire up your loud
‘nother round of shots
Fire up your loud
‘nother round of shots
Fire up your loud
‘nother round of shots

Turn down for what
Turn down for what
Turn down for what
Turn down for what
Turn down for what

Can you tell me what “Fire up your loud” means?

“Loud” is a term for marijuana, so “fire up your loud” means light up. Sure, loud can also mean being loud and crazy, so it’s a nice “under the radar” message the song communicated. Most parents don’t really know what it means, but lots of kids do.

We pretty much know what “nother round of shots” means. Can you tell me what “turn down for what” means?

“Turn up” means to get drunk or high. So if someone asks you to turn down, they are saying, “Chill,” maybe because you’re out of control or are going to get them in trouble. Then they might reply, “Turn down for what?” Meaning, “I’m not going to stop this partying for nothing. I don’t care!” Urban Dictionary defines it as being drunk and high and continuing to be all night no matter what.

In short, the song is saying, get high, get drunk and crazy, and don’t listen to anyone who tells you to stop. What reason is there to stop?

Three Simple Questions:

    • Q: Why do you think the topic of losing control and doing what you want is so popular in music today?
    • Q: What do you think people are looking for when they engage in activities that help them “lose control”? Do you think they find it?
    • Q: This song is about smoking marijuana and drinking shots (alcohol)… getting drunk and high. Are there any consequences you can think of to indulging in these things?


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, the following discussion guide can help take you there.)

CLICK HERE if you want to look at a quick training article on small groups and drawing questions out of young people—you may find much of the information applicable as you go through this subject with your family members.

Transitional Statement:
So let’s ask that question: What reason is there to stop? Is it bad to light up, drink up and just lose control?

Well, the Center of Alcohol Studies at Rutger University did a research project (posted in The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs) following hundreds of young women from their senior year in high school through their freshman year of college. The study found two alarming discoveries:


  • Of girls who had never drunk heavily in high school (if at all), nearly half admitted to binge drinking at least once by the end of their first college semester.


  • Of all young girls whose biggest binge had included four to six drinks in one sitting, one quarter of them said they’d been sexually victimized in the fall semester. That included anything from unwanted sexual contact to rape. And the more alcohol those binges involved, the greater the likelihood of sexual assault. Of women who’d ever consumed 10 or more drinks in a sitting since starting college, 59% were either raped or sexually victimized in some way by the end of their first semester.

More Discussion Questions:

    1. Why do you think the girls in this study did shots? Do you think they ever thought about the ramifications of what might happen if they were to “lose control”?

Share this verse:

      • Ephesians 5: 1-3, 15-18

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people.

15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit…

  1. What are some of the truths that this passage states that are opposite from the message of the song?
  2. What is sexual immorality or impurity? And why do you think that God wants us to live a pure life?
  3. What does it mean to act thoughtlessly? Does the song say anything about this?
  4. Why do you think God wants us to be careful how we live and to be filled with the Holy Spirit instead of living like fools?

Wrap Up:
Fill your cup! Mazel tov!… Fire up your loud, another round of shots!
 These might be catchy songs… but is that the life you want?

In John 10:10 Jesus told us that He has come to give us life so we may live it to the full. God offers us so much joy and fun in this life… and guess what… we don’t have to be drunk, high or out of control to enjoy it. Point of fact… when we do engage in those activities, we’ll spend much of life in regret.

Maybe we should consider the words we heard from the Bible tonight, “living a life of love, following the example of Christ, no sexual immorality, don’t live like fools, don’t act thoughtlessly, don’t be drunk with wine…”

Some might say, “Yeah, but that’s difficult at times. Especially in a world where much of that is celebrated!”

Yep… in fact, it’s impossible to do all that stuff on your own. That’s why you need to listen to the last part of that passage, “be filled with the Holy Spirit.” In other words, put Him in control of your life.

Close in Prayer.

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Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; 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 Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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