Issue 10 | April 10, 2015

Issue 10 | April 10, 2015

SUMMARY: Issue 10 covers the newest single from The Weeknd, Furious 7, flakka, a bonus video to make you laugh, how technology is affecting millennials, and how TV has become a bully.

Weekly Rundown

This week's major pop culture happenings:


This week’s top songs as ranked on the Billboard Hot 100*:

  1. “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
  2. "Sugar” by Maroon 5
  3. Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding
  4. “Earned It (50 Shades of Grey)” by The Weekend (see below)
  5. “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran
  6. Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap
  7. Style” by Taylor Swift
  8. G.D.F.R.” by Flo Rida ft. Sage The Gemini & Lookas
  9. “FourFiveSeconds” by Rihanna & Kanye West & Paul McCartney
  10. “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth (Furious 7 soundtrack)

*In case you missed any previous issues, click on the links above to read our analyses of these songs.


A song that has been around for awhile but getting a lot of airplay recently is “Earned It” by The Weeknd from the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack. Though his name may be unfamiliar, it won’t be for long. He has earned much critical acclaim, including being called the “songbird of his generation” and the “best musical talent since Michael Jackson” by MTV’s John Norris. Even more importantly, his song “Devil May Cry” was on the soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and his duet with Ariana Grande, “Love Me Harder,” reached number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. With this much talent, acclaim, and upcoming fame, we need to know what he sings about and how to talk to students about it.

Key Lyrics from “Earned It” by The Weeknd (from the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack)

? So I love when you call unexpected
'Cause I hate when the moment's expected
So I'ma care for you, you, you
I'ma care for you, you, you, you, yeah

'Cause, girl, you're perfect. You're always worth it
And you deserve it, the way you work it
'Cause, girl, you earned it (s***)
Girl, you earned it, yeah ?

Backed by images of soft-core porn in the music video (which we do not recommend watching) and being the backdrop to a movie that’s all about an extremely unhealthy relationship, these words are powerful. His entire message is that he’ll take care of a woman as long as she earns it first. If she works it right and is perfect, then she deserves to be taken care of.

Ask Your Students: Why is this mentality about relationships unhealthy? How does it make men look at women? How does it make women view relationships? Can you think of any other songs that have a similar mentality? (Two recent ones are “Dear Future Husband” by Meghan Trainor and “Worth It” by Fifth Harmony and Kid Ink) How does this go against the example of Christ and what the Bible teaches? (See Romans 12:9-21, Proverbs 25:21, Matthew 25:34-40, and Ephesians 5:1-2, 21-33)



Easter weekend marked the debut of the seventh film in the street-racing, action-film franchise, The Fast & the Furious. Furious 7 became the highest-grossing movie of 2015 to date after just 5 days in theaters. Though the movie delivers the action-packed thrills audiences expect, fans of the films and newcomers alike have also been overcome with sadness, as the film is a final tribute to Paul Walker, who played Brian O’Conner in the series and passed away at the age of 40 in November 2013 in a car accident.

Walker was prolific actor who was in 32 films during his career, but The Fast and the Furious films were his most well known. Because filming was not complete by the time of his death, Furious 7 was rewritten to pay homage to him, including a song from the soundtrack, “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth. In addition to being an actor, Walker was a father and founder of a charity called Reach Out Worldwide, which provides relief efforts for areas affected by natural disasters.

His untimely death moves us all because it’s not the way things are supposed to be. But it also turns our thoughts to legacy, what we’ll be known for, what we’re leaving behind for generations to come. Our legacies are one of the most powerful aspects of our lives, and whether we realize it or not, we begin building them early in our lives. Though we may never know the full extent of Paul Walker’s legacy, we can use his final work as a conversation starter with students and a reminder to ourselves: If I were to die tomorrow, would I be proud of my legacy? Would God?

Ask Your Students: What was Paul Walker’s legacy/what was he known for? As a celebrity, did he use his fame for good? In what ways? How could he have done more? If you were to die tomorrow, what would your legacy be? Why does legacy matter? Who is someone you know who will leave or has left an amazing legacy? When did they start building that legacy? Does keeping a legacy in mind change your outlook on life?



Flakka, Gravel, the $5 Insanity, Bath Salts. All names for new drugs that are easy to get, easy to use, and easy to hide. Bath salts were in the news a lot a few years ago, but in 2011, the active ingredient was banned by the DEA. Yet flakka or gravel (so named because of its similar appearance to the colorful pebbles used to cover the bottom of aquariums) is made from a similar compound that has not yet been banned, which is why it’s suddenly taking the U.S. by storm.

According to Business Insider, “Flakka use is on the rise. Back in 2010, not a single case of the drug had been reported in the U.S. Suddenly in 2012 there were 85 cases, and in 2014 there were 670." Reports say that some things people have done while high on the drug are: run naked through traffic, attempt to break into police headquarters, and impale their leg while running from police.

One of the main reasons for its popularity is its price: the Dispatch Times reports that it can cost as little as $5 per hit, which makes it extremely accessible to middle and high school students. In addition, it can be snorted, smoked, injected, or swallowed, so the high is easy to attain.

Because it is similar to the chemical makeup of bath salts, its effects are also similar. As a stimulant that affects the body much like cocaine and amphetamines do, be on the lookout for extreme anxiety, paranoia, episodes of violent behavior, extreme strength, and hallucinations. It can also induce a high fever, which can lead to kidney damage and muscle breakdown.

Please be aware of this drug, its symptoms, and its effects. Though we hope your students never go near it, we want to keep you informed so that you know what to do should it become an issue.



There is hope! 🙂

Discussion Questions: How does technology affect family connections? (See Exodus 20:12 and Psalm 127:3-5) How can we put wise limitations on technology within our family/school/church?




Whether or not you’ve seen this infographic from Barna before, we thought it was a good reminder of how technology is impacting the way students learn, spend their time, and interact with Scripture. And though we believe that not everything should be experienced through a screen, we also realize that many of these technological changes are here to stay, which means adapting and changing to use them to our advantage, rather than resisting them altogether.

Discussion Questions: Considering these changes, how should churches, schools, and ministries change their approach to sermons, education, and youth ministry? How can we encourage students to use technology wisely, while still appreciating tradition?




Dr. Frederic Brandt, a dermatologist and plastic surgeon to the stars, was found dead in his home Sunday, and it was later confirmed that he committed suicide. He had been battling depression for some time.

Some say that the doctor was extremely upset by the similarities between himself and a character on the new Netflix show, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The character, played by Martin Short, was named Dr. Grant (pronounced “Franff” because of his inability to speak clearly due to too much Botox), had similar white hair, and was also a cosmetologist (see photo comparisons here). And though friends and family confirm that the show was not the cause of his death, People Magazine reports that it definitely hurt him:

It was a mean characterization. . . . It was making fun of him for the way he looked, and it was mean, and it was bullying. . . . That was not why he committed suicide. But it didn’t help.

Discussion Questions: Is this another type of bullying? How has bullying changed over time? How has technology changed bullying? (See Ephesians 4:29 and Leviticus 19:18) At what point can comedy cross the line and go too far?


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