Did the last Video Music Awards show with Miley Cyrus make you cringe? Does hearing your kid sing a long with Miley from the back seat of the carpool make you long for the days of Madonna's "Like a Virgin"? It's not just because you're old. Well, yes it is because you're old. But it's also because we're moms and dads now and collectively a little nervous about this 20-year-old's crass version of sexuality in all its humor.
Popular music is supposed to be about free expression and each generation takes something from the old and makes it theirs. They also reject the last generation. That's the healthy part. We need that in our culture, actually. So rest assured that your issues with Cyrus aren't any different from your great grandparents' issues with Elvis.
The VMAs don't really celebrate music so much as they celebrate product sales. Miley and her Disney background makes her prime product — not prime music. So what's a parent to do? How do you combat the product and still be supportive of kids finding their own way? Here's a few things you can try.
1. Wean 'em off the Disney Channel.
Seriously that's where bad pop gestates with all its additives and preservatives. It would be best just to not get them watching TV in the first place. There's such great music out there in the world waiting for your young listeners' ears. There's no reason to just feed them trash music. Look in your kitchen. You're feeding your kids organic foods. Shouldn't the music be organic too?
2. Share you're favorite bands with them.
Music can be a place of communication in a family. What are the things you listened to that skirted the edge of....decency? Share with the kids. They'll see you like more of a person if you do. Maybe what you listened to is probably even a bit harder than what they listen to now.
3. There's good stuff out there.
Believe it or not, there are young stars who don't walk around naked. Seriously. Have your kids check out Lorde. Have they heard Ebony Bones yet? Tune the radio to the local college station or community radio station so they can hear bands and singers that are not just there to be cash cows for multicorporations. There's no shortage of very cool indie and alternative bands out there.
4. Start a Spotify, Pandora, or iTunes account for them.
All of these programs are based on alogorithms, right? Feed one of your stations some good stuff to start with and you'll get some great other bands that you've never heard of, either.
5. Ask your friends.
Everyone has the cool friend that's cooler than you. Ask that friend. Ask college students. What are they listening to? Honestly, the best way to find out about great music has always been word of mouth. Don't settle for what the mainstream feeds your kids, find your family's own musical fun.