It is pretty amazing how teens and kids can sing along with the words to the songs they hear! Have you ever listened to your son or daughter’s favorite song and wondered to yourself, “What part of those lyrics is resonating with them?” Have you ever asked your kids to explain what a singer is trying to express in a specific verse of a popular song?
For most kids and teens, music has the ability to empower the listener just as much as it does the artist. Music and lyrics function as unique vehicles to offer valuable life lessons, to heal unpleasant thoughts and emotions, and open a child’s mind to new perspectives. For members of less represented communities especially, music can offer connection and a confidence boost for those moments when they feel powerless or alone in the world.
This month, we’ve put together a list of five singer-songwriters that help inspire and empower adults and kids with their lyrics. Parents who encourage children to listen critically can share some real insight and fun with their child as they discuss lyric meaning.
While many songs may sound soothing to the ear, there is sometimes impactful messaging in the words that are worth noting. Here are some of staff picks for positive messaging.
Shawn Mendes — In My Blood, Nervous & Youth
From Lili Reinhart to Selena Gomez, celebrities continue to lift the stigma surrounding mental health. Shawn Mendes is the latest celeb to open up about this topic, explaining how he deals with experiencing anxiety. The singer-songwriter revealed that he's found that therapy has helped tremendously. But "therapy," to him, doesn't have just one definition. "Therapy is what works for you," he explained. "Therapy is listening to music and running on the treadmill, therapy is going to dinner with your friends — it’s something that distracts you, that helps you heal and so it just depends on what you think therapy is."
In other words, whatever makes you feel good and is good for you is therapy. Shawn shares, “People forget how important it is to talk to your family and to talk to your friends about what’s going on in your life, because the more you tell people how you feel, the more you understand how you feel and you have more control of your emotions."
“In My Blood”
This is a great song for when you need to help yourself find calmness. Shawn has discussed in interviews that the song is about struggling with his anxiety. Whether it’s before a big test or when you’re simply feeling low, whatever situation you find yourself in that’s causing you to feel this way, this song is super soothing.
“Nervous” is on its way to becoming one of our favorite summer anthems. The song talks about having such a big crush on someone that it makes you nervous to be around them. Upbeat and fun, it also happens to make the perfect tune to blast at the beach with your pals.
Favorite Lyric from “Youth”
“You can't take my youth away
This soul of mine will never break
As long as I wake up today
You can't take my youth away”
Jessie J — Nobody’s Perfect, Who You Are & Masterpiece
Jessie J teaches us it's okay not to be perfect and teaches how to tolerate our frustrations and other unpleasant emotions in life. She teaches us about living our lives authentically and trying to fit into our own mold of how we think we should feel or look. We are not defined by our mistakes. She reminds us throughout her lyrics to treat and love others how you would want to be treated, also known as the Golden Rule.
Favorite Lyric from “Who You Are”
“Don't lose who you are, in the blur of the stars
Seeing is deceiving, dreaming is believing,
It's okay not to be okay
Sometimes it's hard, to follow your heart
Tears don't mean you're losing, everybody's bruising,
Just be true to who you are”
Kelly Clarkson — Broken and Beautiful & Stronger (What doesn’t Kill You)
Kelly Clarkson includes messages of body positivity, stresses the importance of voting, discusses conflict resolution with family members, and many other relatable and important issues in her songs. Her most recent hit, Broken and Beautiful, from the upcoming movie Ugly Dolls, is full of positive affirmations and female empowerment.
Favorite Lyric from “Broken and Beautiful”
“I know I'm Superwoman, I know I'm strong
I know I've got this 'cause I've had it all along
I'm phenomenal and I'm enough
I don't need you to tell me who to be”
Pink — Happy, Courage
Pink has made a career of sound-tracking a generation’s growing pains. In her most recent album, Hurts 2B Human, she delivers uplifting, frank songs about being an outsider, addiction, the challenges of long-term relationships, and motherhood. She discusses finding authentic happiness, finding courage, healthy risk taking, and many other important topics.
Favorite Lyric from “Courage”
“I'm walking uphill both ways, it hurts
I bury my heart here in this dirt
I hope it's a seed, I hope it works
I need to grow, here I could be
Closer to light, closer to me
I don't have to do this perfectly, yeah”
Logic — Anziety & 1-800-273-8255
The 27-year-old rapper Logic knows he's made it. His album "Everybody," released in early May, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart. While references to his heritage dot the album, Logic happily ticks off other topics he tackles on "Everybody" — homophobia, poverty, gang violence and our place in the universe. It's a work heavily informed by his own experiences.
One song, the summer hit "1-800-273-8255," which features pop singers Alessia Cara and Khalid, takes its name from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number. Another, "Anziety," addresses a 2015 panic attack — and a battle with crippling anxiety — that led him to the hospital. This rapper is using his craft, creativity, and vulnerability to shed light on taboo topics, and using his platform to inspire positivity.
Favorite Lyric from “Anziety”
““I’ma make it some day some how” what you telling yourself
But you ain’t focused on whats important: mentality, health
Everybody in the world only want one thing, what's that?
Infinite power and a pocket full of wealth”.