Ah, the joys of being a Spanish-speaking parent in a non-Spanish speaking country!
I remember a time when my 8-year-old son was invited to a birthday party here in Canada. As I walked into the party, I could hear the music playing in the background. It was reggaeton, and my heart sank as I listened to the lyrics... eXplicit, with a capital X! Three of them, in fact!
I tried to contain my horror as I looked around the room. The other parents were chatting and laughing, oblivious to the fact that their innocent children were dancing to songs about sex, drugs, and violence. Meanwhile, I was standing in the corner like a Spanish-speaking chicken with no head, trying to figure out how to handle the situation.
But then I had an idea. I put on my best poker face and sauntered over to the other parents. "Hey, have you guys heard the lyrics to this song?" I asked, gesturing to the music playing in the background. "It's hilarious!"
I then proceeded to translate the lyrics into the most ridiculous, over-the-top, and non-sensical phrases that came to mind. The other parents looked at me like I was crazy, but they started to laugh anyway. I continued translating each song, injecting as much humor as possible while still staying true to the melody and rhythm of the music.
And you know what? It worked! The other parents started to listen to the music more closely and realized that the lyrics were not appropriate for their children. They quickly changed the music to something more kid-friendly, and the party continued happily without incident. (sigh of relief!)
Reggaeton is a popular music genre that features predictable and often repetitive rhythms that can be incredibly appealing to the brain. In fact, research by Edward Largue of the University of Connecticut suggests that the brain can become "hypnotized" by music with a fixed rhythm, even if the music is not particularly complex or musically sophisticated. This is one reason why people who may not have a deep understanding of music theory or culture may be drawn to reggaeton over more complex genres like jazz or even quality pop. Yes! There is such a thing! The driving, crushing beats of reggaeton can be incredibly catchy and infectious, which has helped it become one of the most popular music genres in the world today. Did you catch that? Hypnotizing! Numbing... Yes, the music distracts you from the lyrics, the fun but dangerous lyrics of reggaeton!
Reggaeton would not be so bad if it wasn't complimented with lyrics that are often sexually explicit, violent, and promoting of unhealthy behaviors. If that's not enough, additionally, reggaeton lyrics often objectify women and promote misogynistic attitudes. Finally, reggaeton lyrics often glorify violence and aggression.
Children who are exposed to reggaeton's lyrics may not fully understand their meaning, but they can still be affected by them. Studies have shown that exposure to sexually explicit lyrics can lead to earlier sexual activity, increased sexual risk-taking behaviors, and a higher likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol use. Children may also develop negative attitudes towards women and may be more likely to engage in disrespectful or abusive behaviors towards them. They may also become desensitized to violence and may be more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors themselves.
There are many reggaeton artists out there creating great music that is not offensive or violent. In fact, there is a growing movement of educators and language teachers who are using reggaeton as a way to teach Spanish language and culture. One such educator is Profe Arnaly, the creator of Lengualista, who has created numerous songs
for learning Spanish in the rhythm of reggaeton. Not only can you have fun dancing to the music, but if you learn the lyrics, you'll be learning everyday Spanish language and vocabulary. This makes reggaeton a fun and engaging way for young people to learn a new language and connect with a different culture. So, the next time you're looking for a fun and educational activity for your child, consider putting on some reggaeton and learning Spanish through music!
Some popular artists that are also safe for listening:
1. Shakira - Shakira is a Colombian singer who is known for her pop and Latin music including reggaeton collaborations like her latest "Bizarrap Sessions No 52" song. While some of her lyrics are sensual, they are generally not explicit and are appropriate for children.
2. Luis Fonsi - Luis Fonsi is a Puerto Rican singer who is known for his romantic ballads and upbeat pop songs, espcially his widely known "Despacito". His music is generally family-friendly and appropriate for children.
3. Juanes - Juanes is a Colombian singer who is known for his socially conscious lyrics and upbeat rhythms. His music is generally positive and inspiring, making it a good choice for children.
4. CNCO - This Latin boy band's music is upbeat and catchy, with lyrics that focus on love, friendship, and positivity. Their music is perfect for young children who love to dance and sing along.
5. Sebastian Yatra - This Colombian singer-songwriter's music is a blend of pop and reggaeton, with lyrics that are generally family-friendly. His songs often focus on love and relationships, making them ideal for young listeners.
6. Cali y El Dandee - This duo from Colombia makes upbeat and catchy music that is perfect for kids. Their lyrics are generally uplifting and positive, with messages about friendship, love, and following your dreams.
7. Leslie Grace - This American singer of Dominican descent is known for her blend of bachata, pop, and reggaeton music. Her lyrics are generally appropriate for children, with themes of love, heartbreak, and perseverance.
8. Piso 21 - This Colombian group makes catchy, upbeat music that is perfect for young children. Their lyrics are generally uplifting and positive, with messages about friendship, love, and living in the moment.
Reggaeton is a very popular genre of music. Its popularity continues to grow worldwide. However, its lyrics not only are quite unpleasant, most of the time, they are not safe for children. Exposure to sexually explicit, violent, and misogynistic lyrics can have a negative impact on children's development and behavior. Good news is, there are some reggaeton artists who produce music that is more appropriate for children. For instance, Profe Arnaly's specially created Reggaeton music is great for learning Spanish. Also Shakira, Luis Fonsi, Juanes, and other artists are all good choices for parents who want to expose their children to music that is fun, upbeat, and family-friendly.