Heavy Metal's Lyrics Are Taken Seriously by Most

" 'Heavy Metal Teen Shoots Self to Death,' cried the headline in the New York Post. Once again, folks, rock 'n' roll is back in the hot seat," writes Patrick Goldstein in last Sunday's "Pop Eye" column in The Times' Calendar section.

"According to official estimates, nearly 6,000 teen-agers commit suicide each year," Goldstein writes. "But the focus is on one teen who committed suicide while carrying an Ozzy Osbourne tape with the song, 'Suicide Solution.'

"The shock waves from this latest suicide controversy also hit a New Jersey college campus. Two days after (17-year-old Walter) Kuolkusky's death (on April 25), a Seton Hall University faculty adviser banned heavy metal from WSOU-FM, the student-run college radio station."

Here are some responses to this week's hot topic: "Do you believe song lyrics can have a negative effect on the listener?"

"Even if your conscious mind is not aware of the lyrics, your subconscious mind is aware, and the negative lyrics will have a negative influence on you."

--Becky Williams, 15,

sophomore, Bethel Baptist

"Yes, because if they're devil-worshipping lyrics, they can put people in a killing mood. If they're rowdy lyrics, they can put people in a head-banging mood. But if they're mellow lyrics, they can put people in a good mood."

--Jeff Golden, 16,

sophomore, Corona del Mar

"Music can heighten or change the mood you're in, so it can have an effect both ways."

--Jim Hsu, 17,

senior, Corona del Mar

"No, that's hogwash. It's just music."

--Dru Brislen, 17,

junior, Dana Hills

"Yes. If a person listens to a downbeat song repeatedly, he may become sad or depressed." --Suzy Sullivan, 16,

junior, Dana Hills

"They might spread ideas, but they're not going to revolutionize trains of thought."

--Amy Watt, 17,

junior, Dana Hills

"If people worship the singer and the entire attitude of the song, yes, they'll take the lyrics seriously. It will affect them. Most people just listen to the music, though."

--Denise Fulton, 15,

sophomore, Foothill

"Music can also have a positive effect. Look at Christian rock, it's really uplifting."

--Jeanette Reed, 17,

junior, Foothill

"It depends on the moods and emotional states of the listeners when they hear the songs."

--Doug Silver, 17,

junior, Foothill

"Yes, some of the songs that I hear on the radio lead kids to believe what the lyrics state. Some songs bring across pornographic messages, foul language or the disbelief in religion. Some rock songs played backwards lead students to believe that 'Satan is sweet.' Such songs should be banned from the radio waves."

--Content Mullen, 16

junior, Garden Grove

"Usually the only buyers of the suggestive material are people who already use drugs, explicit language, etc. The lyrics can also expose innocent people. Yet, it is the innocent person's choice to buy such material."

--Lesley Markle, 16,

junior, Garden Grove

"Musical lyrics can have a negative effect upon the listener, but most of these types of music have inaudible lyrics. Because my parents have a strong influence in my life, I have a hard time listening to most of the popular music."

--Jennie Vassar, 15,

sophomore, Garden Grove

"Song lyrics can have negative effects on the listener. If a song says illegal practices are fine, some might agree. People look up to those who are famous, and if they project bad ideas, others might just go along with them."

--Kendra Minke, 17,

senior, Laguna Hills

"If the listener takes the lyrics literally, then they could have a negative effect on him. Some musicians write their lyrics to enforce or promote a certain image. As long as the listener takes the music for what it is and doesn't confuse the message of the song with what is the right or wrong thing to do, then the lyrics shouldn't affect the listener. Unfortunately, some people who really look up to the musicians take the songs literally and accept them as truths."

--Katrina Heppler, 17

senior, Laguna Hills

"There are different types of people, those who are strong in their moral beliefs and those who are weak. Those who are weak are more likely to be negatively affected by song lyrics. They usually have a low self-esteem or low self-worth, and being involved in that type of music raises them to a higher level, or so they believe."

--Kristin Price, 17

senior, Laguna Hills

"Anyone who gets so involved in the lyrics that they live the words will be harmed by the lyrics."

--Kelly Black, 18,

senior, Lutheran

"Music has an effect on all types of people, whether good or bad. There are some people who just listen to the music and have fun, yet there are others who take the words too seriously."

--Kathleen Loomis, 17,

junior, Lutheran

"Some people are easily affected by song lyrics, movies and things they read. Others are not. Each of us is essentially a sponge. Our subconsciousness takes in everything we encounter, whether we are consciously affected by it or not."

--Jennifer Knigge, 16,

junior, Lutheran

"It can have a negative effect for people who take music seriously. I think heavy metal is the most negative type."

--Tino Chavez, 16,

sophomore, Mater Dei

"Lyrics arouse emotions. I don't think they corrupt kids the way people say. A lot of times people don't hear the words, they just feel the beat."

--Mary Machens, 16,

junior, Orange

"The lyrics themselves aren't much, but with the music they can throw a listener into any mood the music reflects."

--Anna Pazzetti, 16,

junior, Orange

"Song lyrics have the ability to change a person's feelings and emotions. I don't think they really can corrupt a person who doesn't want to be corrupted, though."

--Nimisha Gohil, 17,

junior, Orange

"It depends on the person. If a person reads a deeper meaning into a song, then it has a negative effect. If someone just listens to the lyrics because she enjoys the beat, then I don't feel it has a negative effect."

--Ashley Ornsby, 16,

junior, Rosary

"Some songs may have a negative effect depending on the lyrics, especially in the aspect of death. Song writers talk about dying as an easy way out of problems, and a young child may consider it a way out of his or her problems."

--Patti Nieblas, 18,

senior, Rosary

"Only if the listener is so emotionally unstable that he or she cannot make his or her own decisions. A person who gets emotionally or physically disturbed by lyrics probably already has the problems to begin with."

--Kim Avary, 18,

senior, Rosary

"It depends on the listener. If the listener has weak ethics, virtues and beliefs, he will be altered. If a person has a good foundation and a firm belief, it will not affect him. This person will listen to the song and take it as entertainment, which it is meant to be, not something that changes your attitude or behavior."

--Jose Martinez, 18,

senior, Saddleback

"It depends on the listener and his behavior. Someone who's already psycho is going to listen to crazy music and do something crazy. I think when a sane person listens to aggressive music, it lets out your own oppression. It's an outlet just by the feel of the music."

--Cindy Martin, 18,

senior, Saddleback

"Definitely, especially if the lyrics are understandable. Whether the listener knows it or not, song lyrics can influence his mood and perhaps even his outlook on any given subject."

--Clint Hudspeth, 17,

senior, Saddleback

"I think the only time music can have a negative effect is when a person or the listener has negative feelings, because, personally, I never really think too much about lyrics of songs unless I'm listening to a song and happen to know the words. I think it's a person's problem if she's negative and the music makes no difference."

--Jamy Cole, 17

junior, Voyagers Christian

"Listeners of negative lyrics are negatively affected, but there is certainly a different degree of influence for each. Every individual must be careful or else bad habits will form from the bad language and lyrics or life style that result from the sexual or homosexual connotation in much of the music."

--Noah Munnerlyn, 18,

senior, Whittier Christian

"Yes, because subconsciously you can absorb the bad things they say and live by their words."

--David Little, 17,

senior, Whittier Christian

"Yes, I do. People don't realize the psychological effects of what happens as the music gets filtered in. It's like programming your subconscious."

--Carol Molina, 17,

senior, Woodbridge

"It's a proven fact. Personally, I listen more to the rhythms than the words."

--Carrie Shawber, 17,

junior, Woodbridge

Next Week's Hot Topic: "What qualities make your favorite teacher so special?"

Hot Topic responses gathered by Roxane Dyrud (Bethel Baptist), Patrick Yoon (Corona del Mar), Chris Bergerud (Dana Hills), Joanna Brooks (Foothill), Julie Cosgro (Garden Grove), Krista Imboden (Lutheran), Maureen McFadden (Laguna Hills), Tanya Diaz (Mater Dei), Monica Neal (Orange), Amy Burke (Rosary), Chin-sop Yi (Saddleback), Michele Crane (Voyagers Christian), Lara Voloshin (Whittier Christian), Rebecca Evans (Woodbridge).

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