Lyrics & The Health of Teenagers

The Boston Public Health Commission deemed Usher as the least healthy artist of 2010, with his singles “Lil Freak” and “Hot Tottie” topping their list of Top Ten Unhealthy Relationship Songs of 2010. The list also includes Eminem featuring Rihanna’s “Love The Way You Lie,” Ke$ha’s “Your Love Is My Drug,” and Justin Bieber featuring Sean Kingston’s “Eenie Meenie.” How do you determine if a song is unhealthy for teenagers?

“It’s technically a very rigorous process,” said Casey Corcoran, director of Start Strong, an initiative of the Boston Public Health Commission that focuses on the well being of local adolescents. According to Corcoran, the main five components of unhealthy songs are drama (unhealthy conflict—such as yelling and resentful arguing), possession or obsession, disrespect, sex as the main part of the relationship, and manipulation. The Start Strong team of 24 students that were recruited from healthy relationship community centers throughout Boston and range from 15 to 18-year-olds, chose popular songs from the Billboard Top 100 chart and examined the lyrics in co-ed pairs to determine if these toxic elements were present, then scored them up to fifty points according to their intensity.

Continue reading “Lyrics & The Health of Teenagers”


Song of the Day: “Secret Garden” – Bruce Springsteen

Song:”Secret Garden”

Artist: Bruce Springsteen

Album: Greatest Hits

Label: Sony

Year: 1995


This is one of those songs that I had to learn to love. It was on a burned CD entitled “Snowboarding Mix” that I snatched from my older sister at some point in my music-obsessed adolescence. The song has been on my calming pre-bedtime mix ever since, sandwiched between Enya and this guy.

Apparently, this song is about a prostitute (which by reading the lyrics one could easily assume the same) and it was featured on the Jerry Maguire soundtrack. Being eight years old when the film came out and innately associating Tom Cruise as a couch-jumping scientologist, I made this monumental discovery relatively recently. But get those images of Renée Zellweger in garish ’90s makeup croaking out “You had me at hello”–this twinkling chanson meanders just enough until reeling us back in with that redemptive, velvety saxaphone outro.

Best Lyrics: “She’ll let you come just far enough so you know she’s really there.”


Song of the Day: “Porcelain” – Moby

Song: “Porcelain”

Artist: Moby

Album: Play

Label: Mute Records

Year: 2000

Even if you don’t like electronic music or bald, middle-aged musical geniuses (ahem, I’m talking to you, Eminem), you can’t deny the amazing ambient beats and dancing piano that just seduce you into a whole new realm of groove.

Best Lyrics: “In my dreams I’m dying all the time. When I wake its kaleidoscopic mind. I never meant to hurt you. I never meant to lie. So this is goodbye”

Song of the Day: “The Sweetest Girl” – Scritti Politti

Song: “The Sweetest Girl”

Artist: Scritti Politti

Album: Songs to Remember

Label: Rough Trade

Year: 1981


While reading and reviewing the book  An Intimate History of Rough Trade by Neil Taylor for Rolling Stone Australia, I stumbled across the post-punk Leeds band Scritti Politti. Check out their 1981 saccharine ska single injected with a bit of politics–“The Sweetest Girl”–the first installment of my new “Song of the day” section where I’ll be sharing some of my favorite songs of the moment.

Best Lyrics: “The weakest link in every chain, I always want to find it. The strongest words in each belief, find out what’s behind it. Politics is pride too. Vagaries of science. She left because she understood the value of defiance.”


There’s a fine line between bandmates and soulmates for the LA-based indie rock band Grouplove. This affable band is responsible for the beachy single “Colours” off their 2010 self-titled EP that caught enough global attention to snag the band a supporting spot next to musical forces like Florence and the Machine and The Joy Formidable.

The group formed on a whim when painter Hannah Hooper “fell in love at first sight” with musician Christian Zucconi after his solo show in New York City; she texted the guitarist just days later with an invite to an artist’s residency in Crete for almost two months. The duo was both at a contingent position in their lives where they “had to decide if we wanted to give up being full-time artists and work permanently on a nine to five—so instead of figuring it out, we just went to Greece” where “there wasn’t much else to do other than create” vocalist Hooper laughs. “We both needed to get out of New York at that time and thank god we did,” Zucconi reflects.

The quintet rounded out in the remote, mountainous town of Avdou the where Hooper and Zucconi met LA guitarist Andrew Wessen and his childhood friend, drummer and producer Ryan Rabin along with English guitarist Sean Gadd for their adult “summer camp” experience. All five members moved to Los Angeles to continue generating music once the program ended. “It was instinctual,” Zucconi says. The band has consummated their relationship with quirky bonding rituals like matching tattoos, a five-person tee-shirt with the phrase “Never trust a happy song” scrawled across the chest, and an online family photo album-style blog with everything from Hooper’s drawings to photos of the group’s collectively-owned dog and photos of Hooper giving her bandmates haircuts.

Songwriting proved to be just as effortless as the band’s cohesion, with the band’s buzz-worthy first single, “Colours” Zucconi states: “I just kept singing that song and let my unconscious kind of flow out. The first or second time I played that for the guys they really liked the hook and they just built the song around the original riff that I had.” The band is largely inspired by their personal lives along with influences from the  “big, kind of cliché bands” like Nirvana, The Pixies, Fugazi and Neil Young—“they inspire you to think it’s okay to scream and get these emotions out,” Zucconi says.

The band is currently recording their full-length debut album scheduled to be released mid-2011, renovating the band’s innate “rawness, power and harmony to a new level—when we first recorded that EP we weren’t even a real band—I mean, we recorded it in Ryan’s parents’ house. We’ve really grown as a unit and the music’s gonna reflect that.”