They Might Be Giants try as hard as they can to avoid this by splitting their tours in two to cater to their two distinct fanbases (their original alternative rock fans and their new children's music fanbase). The "adult shows" (the one where they play their non-children's material and back catalog) have a 18 (or 21 in some places) cover for when someone tries to bring their kid into an adult TMBG concert expecting to hear music from their children's albums.
Originally, Green Day's CD Dookie had an Ernie (from Sesame Street) puppet in the mosh pit. Just for starters, track 14 is called F.O.D. (Fuck Off and Die). For this reason as well as fear of litigation, Ernie was airbrushed out of later pressings of the album. Ironically, the album's title would later be used in the Sesame Street video "Elmo's Potty Time". A few reviews complaining about the segment containing the word "dookie" point this out when they mention it's not for kids.
There is a Kidz Bop version of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams." The title alone should have given them an inkling that this wasn't the sort of fun, upbeat material that belongs on a Kidz Bop CD, but the lyrics make it abundantly clear.
One music magazine given to students as early as middle school had, in one of their issues, an article on the musical of American Idiot.
The North American folk song, "The Big Rock Candy Mountain," describes a fictional hobo's paradise, and is now considered a children's classic. However, the version most children are taught uses the lyrics popularized by Burl Ives, which strip the references to liquor and cigarettes (and lines like "Where they hung the jerk/That invented work"). Furthermore, Harry McClintock, who recorded and wrote the song, claimed in interviews the song contained missing lyrics describing a more sinister frame story: the "Big Rock Candy Mountain" was a fairy tale used to lure children into the hobo's life, possibly for sexual purposes. The song was originally a warning for children. It is very similar to (and most likely descended from) the English folk song, "The Appleknocker's Lament," a song that explicitly warns of child rape.
In the late 90s/early 2000s, Aerosmith somehow became seen as a "family friendly" band due to stuff like the Rock'n'Rollercoaster at the Disney Hollywood Studios theme park, their appearances on the Kids Choice Awards, and even a song on the Rugrats Go Wild! soundtrack. Of course, nobody ever thought to scan the lyrics of their albums, which are full of explicit sex (as well as isolated songs about violence and drug abuse).
According to an interview in the late 1990s, Lil Kim was appalled at how some of her fans were proudly playing her songs for their young children. Lil' Kim was well-known for her sexually-explicit lyrics, extolling the virtues of oral sex (giving and receiving) among other topics. She specifically said, "My music is NOT for kids."
Gorillaz. "They're an animated band, so they must be for kids, right?" Wrong! Not only does the animated band consist of a drug-addict, a middle aged sexually-frustrated satantic bassist, a demonically possessed drummer, and a Japanese super soldier who's the last remaining member of a top-secret government project, but there are also a lot of serious, heavy themes in the music lyrics, including philosophy, depression, loneliness, terrorism, war, etc.
When filk-rapper Luke Ski appeared at a Harry Potter new-release celebration, he was asked to perform each of his songs with Potter references. Evidently the event's organizers hadn't listened to the rest of these songs, as Luke had to improvise alternative lyrics on the fly to avoid exposing grade-school kids to lines about Jay and Silent Bob smoking pot.
Because of its childlike cover art◊ and song "It's a Motherfucker," Eels' 2000 album, Daisies of the Galaxy, upset George W. Bush to the point that he tried to get the album banned because he believed it was peddling obscenities to children.
A CD of kids' music had once included "Rap das Armas". This is a song that has a chorus that sounds like a machine gun, among other things.
Go to any party where rap music is played in 2015, and you're guaranteed to hear "Hot Nigga" played at least once. This song was a HUGE hit in 2014, even among (primarily black) elementary school-aged kids, who know how to do the dance that goes along with it (known as the "shomoney" dance). The explicit title alone (the clean version is called "Hot Boy") alone is enough to shock parents into not buying or downloading the song for their kids, as well as the name of the stage name of the artist who made it (Bobby ShMURDA), but wait until you hear the lyrics of the song.
Shel Silverstein's other career - when he wasn't writing children's stories or articles for Playboy, he was writing songs. Fortunately, songs tend to be remembered as being by their performers, not their writers, but he's the man who wrote "A Boy Named Sue" (bad language, violence), "The Mermaid" (*ahem* inappropriate subject for children), and "You're Always Welcome at Our House" (depicting the murders of various visitors to the house by the children). The Muppet Show actually used that one for a sketch in the Marisa Berenson episode, cheerfully playing up the Roald Dahl-like comedy.
Silverstein's poetry ranges from "intended for children" to "okay for children" to "children probably won't get most of this" to "do not let children read this."
Emilie Autumn's "Miss Lucy Had Some Leeches" might sound like it's a cheerful kid's song, but if you actually listen to the lyrics, you'll discover that it's... not. In fact, it's about insane asylums, female circumcision, and rape.
"House of Fun" by Madness sounds like a cheerful and bouncy song about balloons, birthday parties and having fun. On a closer listen to the lyrics however, it's actually about a teenager trying to buy condoms on his 16th birthday (the legal age for sex in Britain). This goes over the heads of people who play the song at children's parties and even on children's TV.
Eminem's been criticized over and over for his vulgarity in music, and how it reaches to children, but the fact of the matter is no matter how colorful and cheerful his voice may sound (although not so much anymore, though his very latest songs have him using a more cheerful voice) his songs ARE NOT for them. He even talks about it in his songs.
For some reason, "Tik Tok" by Kesha was used in commercials for several children's movies when it first came out. Lyrics sample: "I'm talking 'bout everybody gettin' crunk, crunk / Boys tryna touch my junk, junk / Gonna smack 'em if ya getting too drunk, drunk..."
"I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world..." "You can brush my hair, undress me anywhere..." What do you mean the lyrics are sexual? It's about Barbie! It's kid friendly! Barbie itself even began using it for commercials eventually.
The song "Sexy and I Know It" is being used in ads for both M&Ms candy and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, and was also used quite a few times in Hotel Transylvania. First of all, the band is called LMFAO, which supposedly stands for "Loving My Friends and Others", but is more frequently used for "Laugh My Fucking Ass Off". Second, a majority of their songs involve having sex with ladies, and have a ridiculous amount of swearing, drinking, and party rocking (and the less said about its video, which doesn't a have a parental warning on YouTubefor nothing - the better)
Katy Perry's appeal to young children (due to the fact she's basically pop music's Candy Queen) is arguably what makes up the bulk of her popularity. However, not only is there the sexually suggestive outfits, in her music there's also the swearing, the sexual themes and the harshly worded take-thats.
Fall Out Boy has always attracted a fair amount of teenagers and the older crowd due to their innuendo laced lyrics. That didn't stop Kidz Bop for wanting to put "Dance, Dance" on Kidz Bop 10. The band and their manager weren't pleased, especially since Kidz Bop technically didn't need their permission to use it. Kidz Bop eventually dumped the track from the list. Later on, "Sugar, We're Goin' Down" got away with being used for the trailers of the Tim Allen movie, Zoom: Academy for Superheroes, and eleven years after this incident did this, the group would appear in the second Teen Titans Go!TV Movie "The Day the Night Stopped Beginning To Shine And Became Dark Even Though It Was the Day".
The early '70s pop/rock group The Buoys got into trouble with Moral Guardians when it released a single (written by Rupert "Piña Colada Song" Holmes) called "Timothy". A very, very catchy and youth-friendly single that was also a powerful Ear Worm. A very, very catchy and youth-friendly single — about cannibalism. This was actually the song's intended purpose — the band's record deal did not include promotion as part of their contract, and thus they had to find another way to promote themselves. Holmes suggested the band deliberately record a song that would be banned, thus making people want to hear it more. Needless to say, the plan worked.
In 1982 - 1983, millions of preteen and teenaged girls were greatly moved as they sat by their record players and listened to then-teen idols Duran Duran's hit single "Save a Prayer", and when they saw Duran Duran perform said song live they flicked their Bic lighters on and swayed to and fro. All of this raw emotion was for a song singing the joys of one-night stands. It doesn't help that the song sounds like a beautiful melancholy "break up song"-type ballad (even if it does mention 'a one-night stand') and the band's lyrics tend to be varying degrees of "word salady". It sounds like a beautiful, loving, romantic, sensitive ode to a one-night stand....or something.
There's a general assumption that any classical music must be educational and clean, especially if it's in a foreign language. Go and find a translation of Carmina Burana, and then see if you think it's a good choice for a youth choir. And just about any opera ever written.
Two words: Hilary Duff. Some people assumed she was a children's musician because she was on Disney. Many little kids liked her and didn't know what she's talking about. Not to mention she had a squeaky-clean image — no tattoos or piercings, for starters. But have parents (or the kids) bothered looking at the lyrics to her songs?
Little Voice (When I see you I admit/ I start to lose my grip and all of my cool...all I really want is you/ But there are some things a girl won't do)
Metamorphosis (Come on and give me a kiss/ Come on, I insist)
Party Up (You roll me, you use me, you love me and then/ You wrap me up and reel me in and use me again)
Even though she thought the aforementioned album of hers still says it by bit, later songs of hers (with some MV's of her recent songs in the mix) do play the trope well, as if she's pulling a Sheryl Nome (“Cool For The Summer”, anyone?), at least in her singing career.
Miley Cyrus is now becoming a crowning example of this - to the point her "Hotter and Sexier lead single" has right in the intro "It’s our party we can love who we want, we can kiss who we want, we can screw who we want". Hannah Montana this is not (although Younger Now slightly toned down the sexual aspect of her image).
The Spice Girls. The song "Two Become One" is about sex pure and simple with the chorus going "I wanna make love to you baby" and the line "Be a little bit wiser, baby/Put it on, put it on" which could only be about a condom (not to mention this line is made to rhyme with "get it on, get it on"). Imagine a slumber party of 6-10 year old girls dancing around and singing those lyrics. Then there's "Holler" which contains lyrics about "fantasy rooms" and "start from the bottom and work your way up slowly". Then of course if you take the basic premise of five girls in Stripperiffic outfits posing provocatively, you may be alarmed at the fact that little girls looked up to them. It was nonetheless marketed to little girls with oodles of merchandising.
Madonna attracted a HUGE fanbase of young girls when she first became popular in the 1980s and many young girls would try very hard to ape her look, from the hair full of messy ringlets to the lace fingerless gloves. And while a lot of her earlier singles (e.g. "Lucky Star" and "Material Girl") were rather harmless, sugary sweet pop fluff, her image was very sexualized and some of her other songs (e.g. "Burnin' Up" and "Like a Virgin") were rather erotic in nature - for the times, at least.
"What shall we do with the drunken sailor" seems to have become quite a popular song for children, and has been featured as background music on SpongeBob SquarePants. As the title implies, it's about drunkenness and a few quite horrific ways a 19th century Navy might have dealt with it. And if you misunderstand the line about the Captain's daughter, you might even think there's some sexual innuendo. Although it's anyone's choice if they prefer to tell their child about sex or about the cat-o'-nine-tails...
Milk Rocks was a company who advertised on milk cartons, targeting children in grades K-12. They had contests, many relating to music with mostly child friendly artists. However, some contests seemed very inappropiate.
The In the Heights contest was the tamest example. In the musical, there is some swearing, and young kids may not understand the plot of the show.
They also had a Maroon 5 contest... when about half their songs are about Intercourse with You. No wonder the contest isn't in the website anymore.
Speaking of Maroon 5, "Payphone" was featured in a Nickelodeon promo for SpongeBob SquarePants. It seems like a cheery song about a person who wants to live a fantastic life, but it drops the F-bomb at one point in the uncensored version. No wonder the promo in question didn't last that long on the channel!
Tween YouTube singer, MattyBRaps, covers inappropriate songs while bowdlerising the more inappropriate lyrics. He covered songs such as Chris Brown's "Loyal" (changing "These hoes ain't loyal" to "That girl ain't loyal") and Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" (a song which can only be interpreted to be about date rape).
Similar to MattyBRaps, Cimorelli sometimes dips to this trope with the same Bowdlerization applied. Some of the songs they cover are sometimes inappropriate but since they cover songs popular at the moment, all they just do is change some words; one example being their take on Meghan Trainor's "Lips are Movin'" (changing Trainor's "You give me bass" to the sisters' own "You give me love"). Another would be their take on Justin Bieber's "Sorry" ("Missing more than just your body" is now "Missing more than just your memory", which still rhymes).
The soundtrack to The Book of Life contains a cover of Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?". The song may appear to be about being attractive and popular, but in reality, it's yet another Intercourse with You song. It also features a cover of Radiohead's "Creep," a song about personal feelings of inadequacy and a few strong swear words.
A favorite song for grade school choruses and children's church choirs is "The Rhythm of Life." This is a perfectly fine choice... unless a child or parent decides to look up the song and ends up finding the original unsanitized version from the musical Sweet Charity. For example, there are clear differences between "And the voice said 'Neighbor, there's a million reasons/Why you should be glad in all four seasons./Hit the road Neighbor; leave your worries and strife./And spread the religion of the rhythm of life,'" (choral version) vs "And the voice said 'Daddy there's a million pigeons/Waiting to be hooked on new religions./Hit the road Daddy; leave your common-law wife/Spread the religion of the rhythm of life,'" (musical version).
Bruno Mars seems to have a following with kids. A few of his songs have been covered on Kidz Bop albums and nominated for Kids' Choice Awards, and songs cowritten by him were featured in both modernMuppets films. note Though bear in mind that The Muppets were originally aimed at adults, but it later was aimed at families, these performances might as well have been Parental Bonuses. His songs' lyrics talk about things that kids would not understand, and sometimes contain swearing.
Twisted Sister had issues with this at the height of their popularity. With such songs as "I Wanna Rock" and wacky music videos, they attracted a large following of rebellious teens and even preteens. Parents would take their families to their shows then complain when it turned out the band was anything but PG.
The song, "Twerk It Like Miley" is overly played in the Philippines, no thanks to the noontime variety show Eat Bulaga for making it an Ear Worm. If one look into the lyrics, it's about Miley Cyrus' infamous twerking incident in 2013 with the words "ass" on the chorus and if one watches the music video, it's clear that this is not something that a 10-year-old should watch. Be thankful that Moral Guardians are not aware of this......for now.
Bob Rivers, known for his Christmas parody songs, suffers from this. His songs play on many radio stations during the holiday, and while some are innocent (such as The Chimney Song), his other songs are not as innocent.
"The Twelve Pains of Christmas" mentions adult concepts such as hangovers and paying bills and has cursing in it. What's worse is that some Christmas albums intended for families (as well as some G-rated Christmas radio stations) include this song!
"The Twisted Chipmunk Song" contains the chipmunks swearing and has the Dave of the parody tell them that they will be turned into shampoo if they aren't quiet.
Because he's made songs about things other than money, bitches, murder, and drugs, many people seem to be under the impression that Macklemore is a "family-friendly" rapper. Of course, being a rapper, his music is rife with swearing, and his music has touched on not-so-family friendly issues in a non-glorfied way, such as drug addiction and having sex.
Melanie Martinez dresses in cute pastel dresses and sings cheery sounding songs with names like "Teddy Bear" and "Dollhouse". Despite this she is not a musician you should probably let your toddler listen to. Her songs are often about dysfunctional romances, abuse, murder, and mental instability. Almost all of them feature profanity as well.
Speedcore artist Renard (which made albums under the LapFox label) has a dedicated small demographic of 9-year olds. Most of his tracks are indeed kid-friendly (heavy Sensory Abuse notwithstanding), but some others are just fucked up, with outright lovely names like Team Murder. These lines from the track Big Shot drive the point home:
If I was president
I got elected on Friday
assassinated on Saturday
maybe on Sunday
The Black Lace song "We're Having a Gangbang" sounds like an upbeat children's song, but it really isn't meant for them as the title suggests.
This could easily become the case with any song in which the radio edit is better known than the original. Many people are unaware that the version they are familiar with is actually the censored version, and that the original is much less family-friendly.
Biz Markie gets this often too, since he played a major role on Yo Gabba Gabba!. People often take their kids to his concerts, thinking his music will be similar to what's heard on the show.
Devo probably got this back in their heyday. Imagine parents taking their families to their concerts, only to be shocked by songs such as "Speed Racer" (which has a pirate that likes to steal and kill, and the "dirty version" has the Barbie doll saying the F word) and "Planet Earth" (which mentions getting drunk in local bars).
"Beautiful World" was featured on the Starbucks Coffee-exclusive kids compilation CD Music For Little Hipsters (yes, that's really the name of it). The music video features footage of wars and things that internet "social justice warriors" get "triggered" over, along with footage of kids starving in poor countries. Someone at Rhino or Starbucks should have really checked the lyrics for the lines "It's not for me!" and "Not me!"
Devo 2.0 (aka DEV2.0) take the cake, with a bowdlerized version of an anti-George Bush song from Jerry's solo project Jihad Jerry & The Evildoers.
The B-52's were popular with toddlers, yet they have such delightful songs as "The Chosen One" (which has the very clunky line "Lest these titans wreak destruction upon the world in which they clash"), "Quiche Lorraine" (about bestiality, specifically about a poodle who runs away from Fred Schneider, dumping him for a Great Dane), "Dirty Back Road" (which is an Unusual Euphemism for doing it doggy style), and we should probably stop before we accidentally list all of Good Stuff.
Three songs by the Beat Bombers have mentions of alcohol.
Bowling for Soup did the theme song for Phineas and Ferb (and lead singer Jaret Reddick even voices a character on the show), and also did songs for lots of kids movies, so they must be kid-friendly right? Though they did Bowderlize some of their songs for Radio Disney airplay, the unedited versions of the songs arent really kid-friendly (the unedited version of "High School Never Ends" for example mentions sex and drugs in the chorus alone), and that applies to their albums in general, lots of songs about Sex, drinking, and profanity.
Ariana Grande has a lot of 9-16 year old fans due to the fact she began as a Nickelodeon child star and she has a "cute" look to her. A good number of her singles are rather clean however not all are. For example, "Dangerous Woman" and "Into You" both non-explictly reference sex.
Despite the peppy sound of most of Evelyn Evelyn's songs, they're not remotely for kids. Despite its 1920s sounding tune and funny retraux animated music video, "Have You Seen My Sister Evelyn?" is about a woman complaining about her twin sister who is very promiscuous. The first part of the song is rather sfw but then the second part features profanity. There's similarly nothing child-friendly about "Sandy Fishnets" despite its lyrics or cute music video, which is about how a child prostitute was killed when she turned thirteen due to being seen as too old.
"Clementine" has become a well-known children's song and has been covered countless times on various kids' CDs. It may seem like a song about a cute young girl, but if one listens closely to the lyrics, it's about her tragic death when she accidentally falls into a river. This is made worse by the fact that some versions of the song include a verse where her father jumps into the river after finding out that she drowned.
Tom Lehrer's hilarious take on it (in several very different musical styles) features the line "when she said I could have her, her sister's cadaver must surely have turned in its crypt."
One of Todrick Hall's albums, Straight Outta Oz, falls under this trope. Yes, it's based off a popular family film and some of the songs are pretty G or PG-rated, but then you get tracks with titles such as "Whoop Dat Ass" and "Wrong Bitch", along with lyrics such as "It's just another box of tricks/Some crock of shit/And good dreams go wasted" and "Your seat's a floating device, but who cares?/'Cause if the plane goes down in flames/You won't be floating nowhere".