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).
Voltaire eventually did release a children's album.
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 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.
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 Mermai" (*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).
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 Ke$ha 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!
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.
The children's movie The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure uses Nicki Minaj's "Starships" in the trailers. The chorus sounds pretty innocent, but the line directly after the chorus is "We're higher than a motherfucker". Even with the cussing censored, the song also features references to alcohol ("Have a drink, clink, found the Bud Light") and also some adult concepts ("And I ainít paying my rent this month").
The early '70s pop/rock group The Buoys got into trouble with Moral Guardians when it released a single (written by Rupert "PiŮa Colada Song" Holmes) called "Timothy". A very, very catchy and youth-friendly single that was also a powerful earworm. A very, very catchy and youth-friendly single — about cannibalism.
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.
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)
Miley Cyrus is now becoming a crowning example of this - to the point her "Hotter and Sexier lead single" has right in the intro "Itís 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.
Taylor Swift can, at times, suffer from the same problems as Duff, Cosgrove and Lovato,note She's not with Disney or Nickelodeon, although she's commonly associated with the former (she's frequently played on Radio Disney and appeared on an episode of Take Two With Phineas and Ferb). what with such lyrics as "That's fine, I'll tell mine you're gay" (Picture to Burn), "She's better known for the things that she does on the mattress" (Better Than Revenge) and "You touch me once and it's really something. You find I'm even better than you imagined I would be" (Sparks Fly). Moreover, "Teardrops On My Guitar" and "Cold As You" both make use of "damn" (pretty mild, but still), while "The Way I Loved You" delivers a rather Family-Unfriendly Aesop and "Fifteen" hints at a friend's virginity loss.
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!
There exists an 11-year-old YouTube singer, MattyBRaps who 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 has been interpreted to be about date rape).
The soundtrack to The Book of Life contains a cover of "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.
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 nominated for Kids' Choice Awards, and his songs 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.