Nutrition Facts Labels for Songs

Before you download the next pop hit from iTunes, check whether it is hazardous to your health. A teen panel working with the Boston Public Health Commission has set up a "nutrition facts label" rating (like that seen on food items) for songs:

“Music, like food, can feed our brains and give us energy,” said Casey Corcoran, director of the Commission’s Start Strong Initiative. “But songs can affect our health and the health of our relationships.”

The tool, patterned after common food nutritional labels, invites consumers to become song lyric nutritionists by helping them identify relationship ingredients that make up a song. Using printed song lyrics as a guide, users can tally the number of healthy relationship themes, such as respect, equality, and trust, which are present in the song. And, like fattening calories, unhealthy relationship themes – possession, disrespect, and manipulation – are also counted. The number of times these themes are mentioned also factor into to the song’s total nutritional value. Corcoran recommends consuming lots of ‘healthy relationship’ ingredients for a balanced media diet.

The model was developed by 14 peer leaders in the Commission’s Start Strong Initiative. The teens, who range in age from 15 to 19 years old, attended a seven-week "Healthy Relationship Institute” where they were trained in teen dating violence prevention and healthy relationship promotion. They also learned to look at media critically, breaking it down to better understand the healthy or unhealthy relationship messages it may contain, such as power, control, equality, and gender roles.

“It’s important to have youth involved in this effort because teenagers are the main audience of the music,” said peer leader Shaquilla Terry, age 15 of Boston. “It’s important to actually listen to and think about the lyrics of a song and not just the beat.”

And which songs are (mentally) bad and good for you? Here are the Top 10 lists:

Top 10 Songs with UNHEALTHY Relationship Ingredients (2009)

Song Artist Score 0-50
1. Break Up (feat. Gucci Mane and Sean Garrett) Mario 45
2. Blame It (feat. T-Pain) Jamie Foxx 32
3. Paparazzi Lady Gaga 27
4. You're a Jerk New Boyz 26
5. Baby By Me 50 Cent 25
6. Best I Ever Drake 24
7. One More Drink (feat. T-Pain) Ludacris 23
8. Be On You (feat. Ne-Yo) Flo Rida 22
9. Hotel Room Service Pitbull 21.5
10. Bad Romance Lady Gaga 20

Top 10 Songs with HEALTHY Relationship Ingredients (2009)

Song Artist Score 0-50
1. One Time Justin Bieber 40
2. Miss Independent Ne-Yo 30
3. Replay Iyaz 25.5
4. Say Hay Michael Franti 25
5. Knock You Down Keri Hilson feat. Kanye West 21
6. Only You Can Love Me This Way Keith Urban 20
7. Her Diamonds Rob Thomas 19
8. I'm Yours Jason Mraz 18
9. Fallin For You Colbie Caillat 16
10. Meet Me Halfway Black Eyed PEas 15

Official press release at the BPHC:

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

Depressed, I'm with you. I'm only 40 and I don't recognize a single song up there. But I stopped listening to the radio several years ago, I only listen to my iPod and search for new bands using YouTube, Pandora, etc.
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