Issue 17 | May 29, 2015

Issue 17 | May 29, 2015

SUMMARY: Issue 17 covers "Bad Blood", millennial smartphone usage, and #charliecharliechallenge.


Billboard Hot 100’s top 10 songs. Other good sources for keeping up with popular songs are iTunes, Spotify, Neilsen, and the American Top 40.

  1. “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar (see below)
  2. “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa Ronson ft. Charlie Puth (Tribute to Paul Walker; What happens after you die)
  3. “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap (“Bad girls” are good)
  4. “Shut Up And Dance” by Walk the Moon (Being a victim of destiny/fate)
  5. "Earned It (50 Shades of Grey)" by The Weeknd (Love must be earned)
  6. “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars (Partying and identity)
  7. “Want to Want Me” by Jason Derulo (Relationship based on sex)
  8. “Hey Mama” by David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha, & Afrojack (Do anything to please your man)
  9. "Sugar” by Maroon 5 (Relationship based on sex)
  10. “Nasty Freestyle” by T-Wayne (Identity/Being the best)




Every singer with songs on the radio is raising the next generation, so make your words count.”—Taylor Swift, 2011

Taylor Swift released her music video for “Bad Blood” ft. Kendrick Lamar (and a bazillion other celebrities) at the Billboard Music Awards on May 17, and it’s already broken tons of records. This is the fourth song from the album to reach the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and its recent success gives Swift her 26th week atop the Artist 100 chart. She is clearly a woman of power in the entertainment industry, as well as one of influence in many Americans’ lives, maybe more so than any other artist right now.

This latest single, though not chock full of dangerous ideas like most pop songs, represents a continued evolution for the singer, from “girl next door” innocence to pop star worldliness. Again, compared to other popular music and artists today, she is really quite tame—but therein lies the problem. Our standard shouldn’t be what’s the least bad, but what is good. So how are her words (and image and actions) raising the next generation? Do they point her audience toward good and Truth? Or are they pretty distractions from the flourishing God wants for us?

Discussion Questions: Why is our culture so interested in celebrities and what they do? Is this good or bad? Why is it important to remember what our standard is when it comes to music and lyrics? How can music distract us from what really matters?




The newest Internet Trends Report was released yesterday, highlighting new numbers on the ubiquity of smartphones among younger generations, among other things. The report verifies statistically what many of us have already experienced through our relationships with teens and college students. Some key findings:

  • 87% of 18- to 34-year-olds “strongly agree” that their smartphones never leave their sides, day or night.
  • 80% of 18- to 34-year-olds “strongly agree” that the first thing they do when they wake up is reach for their smartphones.
  • Among 12- to 24-year-olds, Facebook is still the most-used social media network, but it’s quickly declining (down 6 points in just one year).
  • The most important social media network for 12- to 24-year-olds is Instagram (32%), while Facebook has fallen drastically (down to 14%) since 2013.

Despite the usefulness of these statistics, it’s still difficult for parents, schools, teachers, churches, and pastors to keep up. With the younger generations continuing to teach us how to use technology, how are we supposed to teach them how to use tech wisely and to set good boundaries? That’s why, over the coming months, we will be dedicating entire issues of The Culture Translator to helping you stay ahead of trends, know what to look for, and establish smartphone boundaries that bring flourishing. Be on the lookout for those!

Discussion Questions: Do younger generations take the time to think about a new technology’s or app’s implications before they adopt it? Why or why not? How can that have long-lasting effects in their lives? In light of Proverbs’ admonitions to parents to teach their children, how can we be more proactive in teaching and modeling good technology habits?




#CharlieCharlieChallenge took the Internet by storm over the weekend. Evolving from a schoolyard game in the Spanish-speaking world, it involves stacking two pencils like a plus sign, writing “yes” in two of the quadrants and “no” in the other two, then summoning a demon named Charlie to answer your question by moving the top pencil to point at one of the quadrants. The hashtagged has been used millions of times, with many people posting videos of their encounters with “Charlie.” Even major companies are making light of it by using the craze in their marketing.

Though scary sounding, it’s a great conversation starter. It’s pretty obviously not spiritual activity (rather another case of the perfect storm for an Internet sensation), but it’s a great way to discuss a biblical viewpoint on the spiritual world. Clearly there’s excitement about and interest in the spiritual realm right now, and students need more guidance than the flippant attitude present in this trend.

Discussion Questions: Even if this is not metaphysical, what are the dangers of dabbling in this sort of activity? How are we to “test spirits” (1 John 4:1)? Are there good ways to engage this trend online to create better discussions?