Created By: Pichu-kun on June 11, 2016 Last Edited By: NESBoy on November 16, 2017

Age Inappropriate Music

Characters singing or dancing to songs that are not considered socially acceptable for their age.

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trope
This trope is about characters or singers playing songs that are considered too mature for their age. It can be Played for Laughs - such as a character being ignorant about a songs meaning (especially if the song is in a different language) or they're too young to notice the profanity or sexual/violent themes - however it can also be played straight. Young characters singing or dancing to particularly adult sounding songs is often the result of Most Writers Are Adults. However, it can also be the sign of an Adorably Precocious Child, someone who is Wise Beyond Their Years, or in darker cases Troubling Unchildlike Behavior. A Dirty Kid or Covert Pervert teen might sing songs that are rather NSFW.

This trope is why a lot of preteen and teen singers get so much flak from older audiences. Singing about themes that are considered too mature or serious for their age-bracket, such as committed romances, can easily lead to their songs being narmy and awkward with people outside of the target demographic.

Compare to Age-Inappropriate Art, Isn't It Ironic?, Age-Inappropriate Dress, and Ironic Nursery Tune.


Examples:

Literature
  • In the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, twelve-year-old Greg Heffley gets caught listening to his older brother's CD that is said to have a parental warning sticker on it.

Live-Action TV
  • On one episode of Black-ish, Jack sings the uncensored version of "Gold Digger" for a school talent show. This leads to a discussion on N-Word Privileges.
  • One episode of Arrested Development has Michael Bluth and his niece Maeby performing a duet of "Afternoon Delight", completely unaware that it's about having sex in the afternoon.
  • One episode of Grounded for Life sees Sean fighting Lily's teacher because Lily and her friends want to perform "Hey Big Spender" (which is officially about taxi-dancing, but the lyrics suggest otherwise) for their Catholic-school talent show.
  • Children in talent contests are not unknown for doing this:
    • On the Spanish version of The Voice Kids, La Voz Kids, a young girl sung "Cake By The Ocean", which is an Intercourse with You song (its chorus is a synonym for "sex on the beach").
    • The whole Mini-Pops thing on British TV. On its inception, Channel Four came out with a children's talent show where precocious kids of five, six, or seven would dress up like adult stars and perform cover versions of their songs. It was pointed out that having, for instance, a six-year-old girl dress up as Madonna and warble "Like A Virgin'' carried lots of unfortunate implications. The show was dropped because of all the implications that could be read into it by suitably inclined viewers.
  • Arrested Development: In one episode Michael and his niece Maeby are doing karaoke together and pick the first song on the playlist to sing. Unfortunately it is "Afternoon Delight", which has very suggestive lyrics, especially given Maebe's age. Latter, Michael's sister Lindsay and his son George Michael also sing the song together.
  • In the Supernanny episode, "The Amouri Family", it is revealed that 4-year-old Hayley listens to gangster rap on her mom's MP3 player. When Jo finds out, this is one of the things she confronts the parents, Tamara and Michael about.

Film
  • Mean Girls:
    • One of the scenes has Regina's kid sister dancing to "Milkshake" by Kelis.
    • Several of the girls do a flirtatious dance to "Jingle Bell Rock" at their high school talent contest.
  • In Little Miss Sunshine, the seven-year-old Olive performs a burlesque dance to "Super Freak" by Rick James (which is about a highly promiscuous girl) at a child beauty pageant.

Music
  • Kidz Bop sometimes doesn't recognize that a song isn't family friendly. Fallout Boy's song "Dance Dance" was scrapped from one of their albums due to the band and its manager not wanting a bunch of kids singing it (plus, they didn't have permission anyway).
  • Chiaki Ishikawa's song "House" is about an adult looking back nostalgically at their carefree childhood. One of the verses is about singing and laughing at a song with their friends, despite not understanding half the words in it.
  • Brian "Head" Welch has said that he decided that he needed to quit Korn after finding out that his daughter was singing "A.D.I.D.A.S." (which stands for "All Day I Dream About Sex".)
  • The Sia music videos to "Chandelier" and "Elastic Heart" have run into controversy due to this trope. The dancing by itself isn't inappropriate (it's just interpretive dance) but the fact the dancer is doing it in skin-colored clothes is what caused people to think twice. The "Elastic Heart" video has it worst because it contains the girl in a cage with Shia LeBeouf, who is shirtless and wearing skin-colored shorts. It doesn't help the video is incredibly vague on what it's about. Some interpret it as being about a daughter dealing with an addicted or depressed father while others think it's about a single dad whose daughter is entering adolescence but that doesn't clear up much.

Newspaper Comics
  • Subverted in Calvin and Hobbes:
    • When Calvin buys a record from a band whose songs "glorify depraved violence, mindless sex, and the deliberate abuse of dangerous drugs". When Hobbes predict Calvin's mom throwing a fit, Calvin tosses the record in the trash since that's the main reason he got it.
    • Calvin asks his mother for mone so he can buy a satan-worshiping, suicide-advocating metal album. She explains to him that they're Only in It for the Money, which is enough to put him off the idea.
    Calvin'sMom: Calvin, the fact that these bands haven't killed themselves in ritual self-sacrifice shows that they're just in it for the money like everyone else. It's all for effect. If you want to shock and provoke, be sincere about it.
    Calvin: Mainstream commercial nihilism can't be trusted?!

Video Games

Western Animation
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks:
    • The Chipettes (who don't seem older than middle schoolers but might even be as young as eight in Alvin and the Chipmunks) are prone to this combined with Age-Inappropriate Dress and doing somewhat risque dance moves. This was toned down heavily starting with the CGI films. The most infamous song The Chipettes have sung is "Get Lucky" from The Chipmunk Adventure. It's arguably about going on a date but the fact they sing it to a bunch of snakes in Belly Dancer clothing doesn't help the Intercourse with You implications. Another example was when they sung "Proud Mary"; their attire wasn't too inappropriate but their dancing was.
    • While not too mature, both the Chipmunks and the Chipettes sing a lot of love songs that are more suited for older singers.
  • South Park being South Park has done this for laughs:
    • One episode had the Camp Straight Butters singing "What, What In The Butt".
    • When Cartman became a Christian Rock singer he had one God Is Love Song parody that was very sexual sounding.
  • In Scooby-Doo! Stage Fright, the young Crissy sings a song at the talent show named "Homewrecker". It has lyrics which begin with "Stay away from my man, homewrecker/Nobody comes between me and my man" and is about how she will beat up anyone who tries to get near her boyfriend.
  • During the eighties and nineties, Disney created a bunch of music videos that spliced together oldies with footage from their older cartoons. One of those videos was for the Mamas and the Papas' "I Saw Her Again Last Night"... which is about one guy bragging about how he's sleeping with his best friend's wife.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Lisa's Pony" had a kid singing "My Ding-a-ling" at the school talent show. Principal Skinner quickly yanked him off the stage.
    • "C.E. D'oh" had Homer/Marge's and Maggie's tapes switched, so the adults are listening to a lullaby, and Maggie dancing to a song called "Sex Bomb".
    • In "Dude, Where's My Ranch?", Marge comments that ever since the Simpsons started staying at the ranch, the kids are acting like teenagers, pointing out to Homer that Maggie is dancing to Brittany Spears.
  • Phineas and Ferb has a few songs of this nature get past the radar. One is "Gitchi Gitchi Goo", which has sexual sounding lyrics (the chorus literally contains the lyrics "Bow-chicka-bow-wow"). It was sung by the ambiguously nine to thirteen Phineas and the teenage Candace. To make it worse, they're siblings.
  • In the The Loud House episode, "Potty Mouth", it is revealed that Lisa likes rapping and dancing to songs not suitable for four-year-old children, and because she and her infant sister, Lily share a room, Lisa worries she might have been a bad influence on her. She attempts to be a good influence on her by rapping a Blarney the Dinosaur song.
Community Feedback Replies: 31
  • June 12, 2016
    Koveras
    • Chiaki Ishikawa's song "House" is about an adult looking back nostalgically at their carefree childhood. One of the verses is about singing and laughing at a song with their friends, despite not understanding half the words in it.
  • June 12, 2016
    TonyG
    On one episode of Black Ish, Jack sings the uncensored version of "Gold Digger" for a school talent show. This leads to a discussion on N Word Priviledges.
  • June 12, 2016
    StrixObscuro
    Live Action TV
    • One episode of Arrested Development has Michael Bluth and his niece Maeby performing a duet of "Afternoon Delight", completely unaware that it's about having sex in the afternoon.
    • One episode of Grounded For Life sees Sean fighting Lily's teacher because Lily and her friends want to perform "Hey Big Spender" (which is officially about taxi-dancing, but the lyrics suggest otherwise) for their Catholic-school talent show.

    Music
    • Brian "Head" Welch has said that he decided that he needed to quit Korn after finding out that his daughter was singing "A.D.I.D.A.S." (which stands for "All Day I Dream About Sex".)

    Western Animation
    • During the eighties and nineties, Disney created a bunch of music videos that spliced together oldies with footage from their older cartoons. One of those videos was for the Mamas and the Papas' "I Saw Her Again Last Night"... which is about one guy bragging about how he's sleeping with his best friend's wife.
  • June 12, 2016
    Snicka
    Do only cases where children sing age-inappropriate songs count? Or do cases where they dance to such songs count too? Because in that case:
    • In Little Miss Sunshine, the seven-year-old Olive performs a burlesque dance to "Super Freak" by Rick James (which is about a highly promiscuous girl) at a child beauty pageant.
  • June 12, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    ^ I don't know if we have characters wear kids dance to inappropriate songs. I can think of many examples but can't find the trope for it.
  • June 12, 2016
    Josef5678
  • June 22, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    Changed the YKTTW to include dancing.
  • June 23, 2016
    Waddle
    I don't have any specific example in mind, but it often happens when a work uses a song in a different language. From the point of view of the creators, it is often innocent as they just view it as a popular and catchy tune, ignorant of the true meaning of the lyrics.
  • June 23, 2016
    klausbaudelaire
    Would IRL examples count, or would that be contentious enough not to warrant one? For instance in the Philippines it is fairly common to hear songs like "Twerk It Like Miley" on variety programmes, and being played on sound systems on occasions like feast days despite the song's risque premise.
  • June 23, 2016
    AgProv
    The whole Mini-Pops thing on British TV, On its inception, Channel Four came out with a children's talent show where precocious kids of five, six or seven would dress up like adult stars and perform cover versions of their songs. It was pointed out that having, for instance, a six-year-old girl dress up as Madonna and warble "Like A Virgin'' carried lots of Unfortunate Implications. The show was dropped because of all the Lolicon that could be read into it by suitably inclined viewers.
  • June 23, 2016
    AgProv
    Then there's the whole beauty pageant thing In the USA, which for many people brings up the memory of Jon-Benet Ramsey, a girl of five who was deliberately made up and dressed and coached to act as if she was twenty-five; the pageant circuit involved girls of this age singing and dancing to adult-oriented songs which might perhaps be viewed as somewhat incongruous for children of that age.
  • June 23, 2016
    klausbaudelaire
    Besides the infamous Toddlers and Tiaras "reality" show of course. Remember the Pretty Woman incident where one girl was made to mimic a risque scene from said film? That one of course fueled controversy over child exploitation.
  • June 26, 2016
    DAN004
  • July 5, 2016
    Chabal2
    There was a minor uproar about videos of preteen girls singing and dancing along to "Voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir", which means "Do you want to sleep with me tonight" in French.
  • July 5, 2016
    Kartoonkid95
    • An episode of The Simpsons had a kid singing "My Ding-a-ling" at the school talent show. Principal Skinner quickly yanked him off the stage.
  • July 7, 2016
    Exxolon
    The video for Alison Gold's "Shush Up" generated controversy due to how the then eleven year old singer was depicted in it - https://vimeo.com/87515710
  • July 7, 2016
    Exxolon
    Serge Gainsbourg sailed very close to the wind, even for laissez-faire 1980's France with the video for "Lemon Incest" featuring his twelve year old daughter Charlotte - https://vimeo.com/87515710
  • July 7, 2016
    Exxolon
    Sia ran into this issue with the video for "Chandelier" featuring Shia La Beouf dancing with Maddie Ziegler (who was around 12 or 13 at the time) which was accused of pedophilic overtones. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWZGAExj-es
  • July 9, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    I don't know if a Real Life section should be added. Talking about child pagent stuff in general seems like it could cause flamebait.
  • November 9, 2017
    Pagani800
    Not sure if inverted examples are okay for this one (adults hearing a sing meant for young children/babies):
    • Another The Simpsons episode had Homer/Marge's and Maggie's tapes switched, so the adults are listening to a lullaby, and Maggie dancing to a song called Sex Bomb
    • In another episode, Maggie is dancing to Brittany Spears.
  • November 9, 2017
    Unicorndance
    • In the first Diary Of A Wimpy Kid book, twelve-year-old Greg Heffley gets caught listening to his older brother's CD that is said to have a parental warning sticker on it.
  • November 9, 2017
    FlyingDuckManGenesis
    Live Action TV
    • In the Supernanny episode, "The Amouri Family", it is revealed that 4-year-old Hayley listens to gangster rap on her mom's MP3 player. When Jo finds out, this is one of the things she confronts the parents, Tamara and Michael about.

    Western Animation
    • In the The Loud House episode, "Potty Mouth", it is revealed that Lisa likes rapping and dancing to songs not suitable for four-year-old children, and because she and her infant sister, Lily share a room, Lisa worries she might have been a bad influence on her. She attempts to be a good influence on her by rapping a Blarney the Dinosaur song.
  • November 9, 2017
    Chabal2
    Subverted in Calvin And Hobbes:
    • When Calvin buys a record from a band whose songs "glorify depraved violence, mindless sex, and the deliberate abuse of dangerous drugs". When Hobbes predict Calvin's mom throwing a fit, Calvin tosses the record in the trash since that's the main reason he got it.
    • Calvin asks his mother for mone so he can buy a satan-worshiping, suicide-advocating metal album. She explains to him that they're Only In It For The Money, which is enough to put him off the idea.
    Calvin'sMom: Calvin, the fact that these bands haven't killed themselves in ritual self-sacrifice shows that they're just in it for the money like everyone else. It's all for effect. If you want to shock and provoke, be sincere about it.
    Calvin: Mainstream commercial nihilism can't be trusted?!

  • November 9, 2017
    Snicka
    Right now, Age Appropriate Art specifically mentions music and songs as one of the art forms included, in the very first sentence of its description. If this gets launched, that trope will need a serious over-work.
  • November 9, 2017
    AmourMitts
  • November 9, 2017
    JoeG
    • Arrested Development: In one episode Michael and his niece Maeby are doing karaoke together and pick the first song on the playlist to sing. Unfortunately it is "Afternoon Delight", which has very suggestive lyrics, especially given Maebe's age. Latter, Michael's sister Lindsay and his son George Michael also sing the song together.
  • November 10, 2017
    BKelly95
    It's actually the video for "Elastic Heart" that features Shia LaBeouf, not "Chandelier". The latter features the girl (Maddie Ziegler) alone.
  • November 10, 2017
    Snicka
    Added a bomb until someone explains how is this not covered already by Age Inappropriate Art.
  • November 16, 2017
    Lawman592
    Could this proposed trope also be about mature adults singing songs they are clearly too old to sing? Examples would include aging performers singing songs about the concerns of teenagers and young adults or desperately trying to sound up to date by rashly diving into whatever the hottest new musical genre is at the time.
  • November 12, 2017
    eroock
    Real Live:
  • November 16, 2017
    Pichu-kun
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=9y982z6r5s3mgvogkth03glo