Every event where I host or perform, I get requests to play music; music I know to be dirty. If you understand the CleanDance logic, it states that if you present clean music the event can have a good feeling throughout. So how do you check to see if a song is clean?
Let’s start at the beginning. Always have the participant write down a request. Written request do several things for you.
- Allows you to focus on other things
- Gives the participant an outlet for request
- Does not commit you to playing the song
- Provides you an opportunity to vet the songs away from the participant
I want to discuss the importance of the last one. When someone swears a song is clean, I immediately assume I need to check it. Regardless of who it is that is stating the song is clean, my radar goes off when people promise the music industry has a new hit that does not talk about sex, drug use or violence.
I had an experience when I believed a person and played a request. The result was quite possibly the most embarrassing moment in my DJ life. As the foul language played over the speakers, I ran to kill the song, but the damage had already been accomplished. The participant who requested the song didn’t have the same standard and therefore his/her clean was “the swear words are bleeped out.” I wish I had played the bleeped version of the song. No, strike that, I wish I had checked the song first.
So, how do you check a song? This is really easy. I Google the name and artist with the word “lyrics.” For example: I would search “teach me how to dougie lyrics” and then I would select one of the results other than YouTube. After picking either the AZLyrics, MetroLyrics or one of the other links, the lyrics appear among all of the advertisements. Here are the first few lines of the song.
They be like smooth(what?)
Can you teach me how to dougie?
You know why?
Cause all da (….)
This song has been requested a number of times at church and school events and they all say “it’s clean.” Now, the …. above represents the first word that killed this song from being played.
You might say “hey, that word is not that bad” and you’d be correct. Read the rest of the song if you’d like: I find if within the first verse a song is disqualified, I don’t need to read any more.
You might also say “but the radio edit bleeps those words.” The lyrics are what they are, and frankly I don’t care what the radio edit does. I care about the song’s lyrics – which either promotes or tarnishes the environment.
Now, here is the real secret to understanding if a song is clean or not: read the third verse. I am not sure why this is, but the third verse is always the most vile.
A better strategy to this is to provide a screened list of songs that participants can request from. This helps guide participants on what they can request. We provide a list on this site; but that still does not negate the host or DJ’s responsibility to verify all songs meet the performance objectives. They still need to know how to check a song to see if it is clean.