GUEST POST by Jonathan McKee has become a regular guest blogger on this site! He is the author of numerous books including the brand new Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent, as well as youth ministry books like Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation. You can find his excellent blog here.
This week I emailed four different people, all friends of mine with master’s degrees (i.e. smarter than me), and asked them what they think the lyrics mean to Fun’s new song Some Nights.
I received four different answers.
So what are teenagers without master’s degrees hearing from this song?
Vague lyrics are nothing new. I’m still trying to figure out why a guy riding through the desert on a horse with no name is seeing flying alligator lizards? (Perhaps hallucinogenic drugs were involved?) Fun’s lyrics to the title of song of their new album, “Some Nights” is no exception:
Some nights, I stay up cashing in my bad luck
Some nights, I call it a draw
Some nights, I wish that my lips could build a castle
Some nights, I wish they’d just fall off
But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights, I don’t know anymore…
Google the lyrics and you’ll find the rest of the lyrics to be just as vague.
So what do we know about the song?
1.The song is catchy.
When I heard the song for the first time, I found myself singing the chorus the next few hours, making up lyrics in the gaps (I do the same with Elton John’s Rocket Man, don’t you?)
2.Teenagers sure like it.
I’ve been on three different outings with my girls (14 and 16) in the last week and heard their friends playing it or singing it on all occasions.
3.It’s doing well on the charts
It’s #3 on iTunes as I write this, and it’s #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s getting plenty of airplay. I’ve heard it in the grocery store, the mall and the radio nonstop.
4.The lyrics raise questions about the meaning of life
One of the catchy parts of the song is when they repeat, “What do I stand for?” a question that probably resonates in the minds of the listeners. The music video doesn’t seem to offer much clarity, possibly serving as just one interpretation of the lyrics. But the message of “emptiness” seems to penetrate through most interpretations.
5.The band’s songs seem to think we’re all alone in this world, so make what you can of this temporary time.
If you look beyond this song to songs like their hit, We Are Young, and their rather bleak song, One Foot, you’ll get a more holistic picture of Fun’s philosophy. One Foot, for example, reveals a little about their view of God and the church. He describes passing a chapel and thinking about what happens inside:
I happened to stumble upon a chapel last night.
And I can’t help but back up when I think of what’s happens inside.
I got friends locked in boxes. And no way to live.
But you call it a sin. Isn’t up to them.
After all, after all I thought we were all your children,
But I will die for my own sins thanks a lot.
The question parents are asking me is, “What are our kids hearing?” And “Should I let my teenagers listen to this?”
That’s a good question. In all honesty, I don’t think young people are understanding much of Fun’s poetry. When parents compare this song to the typical popular hip hop “get low and shake your…” …Fun is probably a sigh of relief to some. If you listen to the band’s two hits, We Are Young and Some Nights, you’ll find a curse word here and there, but not a whole lot that will cause parents to worry.
But, should they worry?
I guess I’ll answer that question the way I answer it to most parents: “Why don’t you use these popular songs as a springboard for conversation with your teenagers?”
It’s okay to react to these songs, but don’t overreact.
If your kids like these songs, print out the lyrics to several of Fun’s songs on their album, “Some Nights” and ask them what they think the lyrics mean. Show them the lyrics to the song One Foot. Ask them what the think the group is trying to say. Rather than jumping on your kids and banning the song from your house, ask questions about it:
1. Do you think any of your friends have this temporary outlook of, “I don’t need a new love or a new life just a better place to die.”
2. What does the band seem to think of God and the church?
3. Do you think any of your friends have this view of church and God?
4. How would you respond to your friends if they talked about church or God like this?
These songs by Fun are yet another chance to turn our “overreaction” into “interaction.”
Question: What about you?
What do you think the title song of this album, “Some Nights” is about?
What do you think about allowing your kids to download a song with one curse word?
Do you think parents should allow their teenagers to download songs with clear secular philosophies?
Share your thoughts here.
If you want to talk music and/or how to discuss music with your kids, check our more articles from Jonathan
If you liked this article, you’ll love Jonathan’s book, Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent, including the chapter titled, “Dad, Can I Download This Song?”