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Songs of the Summer

Posted by Axis on July 16, 2021


1. The Photo Dump Landfill 

What it is: Photo dumps,” groups of up to ten photos that you can scroll through in one post, are all over Instagram.  

Why it’s catching on with creators, celebrities, and teens: Input Magazine relates photo dumps to a post-pandemic desire to shake up what we see online. Gen Z influencers like Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner are ditching the idea of a “curated” social media feed with photo dumps that include blurry selfies, awkwardly cropped photos, and random memes. Carelessness would appear to be the point, but upon closer inspection, photo dumps just present a grainier perspective of a life that’s still meant to seem as aspirational as ever. A photo dump is the social-media equivalent of showing up to the party with perfect hair and on-trend leisurewear ,and saying with a shrug, “Thanks. I woke up like this.” It’s an attitude that understandably appeals to teens who want to seem too cool to care. 

2. All Apologies

What it is: A youth pastor from Spokane, Washington went viral this week when he apologized for mandating one-piece swimsuits for female participants at church-sponsored events.  

Why it reflects a bigger trend: This particular youth pastor notes that he spent years directing the focus of young Christian women toward their swim attire. Then he had the experience of trying to help shop for an acceptably modest, but also fashionable, one-piece swimsuit with a younger family member. The pastor says he realizes now that he had very little understanding  or compassion for how frustrating and difficult the bathing suit search often was, and that he now feels it puts an unfair burden on women while letting boys off the hook, framing them as helpless to their sexual thoughts. One might argue that this apology lives somewhere at the intersection of the growing backlash to so-called purity culture and the secular “body neutrality” movement. Regardless of our opinions on swimwear, focusing only on what someone is allowed to put on their body might not have the outcome we intend, and urging that we keep pure hearts toward one another is everyone’s responsibility.

3. Code Red 

What it is: “Do you listen to Girl in Red?” has become a way for teens to ask one another if they identify as a lesbian (also known to Gen Z as wlw, a woman who likes other women). 

Why it’s probably already on the way out: “Girl in Red” is the stage name of Marie Ulven, a Norwegian singer-songwriter who identifies as gay. Ulven’s song “girls” became incredibly popular on TikTok in the spring of 2020, and her first album, “if i could make it go quiet,” was released this past April. Ulven’s indie-pop sound may be a bit repetitive for some musical tastes, but plenty of teens have resonated with her simple, candid lyrics about love and depression. Ulven’s popularity continues to grow, but the discreet line of questioning “Do you listen to Girl in Red?” has been ubiquitous on the internet for over a year now. Now that parents are catching on to the hidden meaning behind the question, it could be a signal that the trend’s lifecycle is nearing its end. 

Slang of the Week: 

Cap: to lie or to exaggerate; sometimes represented with a baseball cap emoji. The opposite of “cap” is truth or authenticity, referred to as “no cap.” 

Ex: “I’ll be swinging by your house to pick you up in the nicest car you have ever seen, no cap.” 

(Thanks to a few readers for this submission! Any slang words or phrases you’re hearing lately? Let us know here and we’ll spread the word.)

Songs of the Summer

Every week, Billboard updates its Hot 100 chart, revealing what songs are most popular in the United States based on sales, radio play, and online streams. As we enter the summer and the search for the “song of the summer” begins, this week’s top songs on the chart are most likely on your teen’s radar. We broke them down here so they can be on your radar too!

Butter - BTS

K-Pop boy band BTS wrote and performed this song entirely in English, possibly to connect with a wider American audience. Filled with pop culture references and rhymes like “smooth like butter,” “hot like summer,” and “ain’t no bummer,” this song is all about being so cool and so smooth that the person you like can’t resist you. The dance-pop song is well rounded, fun, and very, very catchy.

good 4 u - Olivia Rodrigo (Explicit)

“good 4 u” is a mic drop referencing Rodrigo’s breakup with High School Musical: The Musical: The Series co-star Joshua Bassett. In the chorus, Rodrigo yells “Well good for you, you look healthy and happy. Not me,” as she’s “spent the night cryin’ on the floor of [her] bathroom.” Breakups are hard to go through, especially as a teenager, and Rodrigo has no problem being authentic about hers for teens to relate to.

Levitating - Dua Lipa Featuring DaBaby

This song has been on the charts for 40 weeks, so it’s safe to say it is already pretty familiar with many. Another upbeat, catchy pop song that got a boost on the charts with this remix featuring rapper DaBaby, “Levitating” is about dancing the night away with your “sugar boo” (love interest). This song focuses more on the dancing and fun, less on risqué  details.

Kiss Me More - Doja Cat Featuring SZA (Explicit)

Even though it’s catchy, there’s not much else to like about this song. The lyrics are sexually explicit from start to finish about intense sexual experiences that are casual, with no plans for deeper connection. This view of intimacy is conveyed as normal in the song with lines like, “We’re so young boy, we ain’t got nothing to lose.” God created kissing and sex with a special purpose, but this song throws that sacredness out the window.

Montero (Call Me By Your Name) - Lil Nas X (Explicit)

Lil Nas X got a LOT of backlash when this song first came out, particularly for its music video. There are lots of explicit sex, drug, and alcohol lyrics throughout the song, but the artist also revealed that it carries a deeper meaning about the shame and guilt he felt being gay growing up in church. Lil Nas X is known for being a master of trolling, and this song is a prime example of his knowledge that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

As you look at the list, you may be taken aback that three of the five songs are explicit. Though as parents we want to monitor the content our teens listen to, it would be naïve to look past the fact that millions of kids are listening to explicit content every day. As you navigate discovering the music your teen listens to this summer, we recommend using our 6 Steps for Culture Translation which can be found on our FREE Axis blog!

3 Big Questions 

In the meantime, here are some questions we hope might spark discussion along these lines with your teens (and pre-teens):

  • Do you find the lyrics in any of these songs applicable or relatable to your own life? In what way?
  • Would you ever consider reading and reflecting on the lyrics of a song before choosing to listen to it? Why or why not?
  • What do you think makes a good song?

Keep the Faith!

- The Axis Team


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