Recently, NIDA met with its Teen Advisory Group—a group of diverse teens from around the country—to talk about pop culture, celebrities, and drugs. All of the teens were eager to talk about how they react to drug references in song lyrics.
The conversation turned to Miley Cyrus and her song “We Can’t Stop.” Some of the teens expressed shock when they found out that the lyric “We like to party, dancing with Molly” was a reference to the drug MDMA—they had no idea, and it changed their opinion of the song for the worse. “We Can’t Stop” peaked at #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and sold millions of copies, so it’s possible that millions of teens are unknowingly promoting drug use by simply singing along.
Is that really a big deal? We think so. Music can be very influential in how we perceive our world. Songs have the power to change minds and hearts, transform our mood, and comfort those who have been hurt.
Lyrics With a Positive Message
Miley’s controversial song highlights the need for songs with lyrics that support healthy decisions. The 4th annual Teens! Make Music contest is your chance to write a song that will feature lyrics encouraging your peers to stay away from drugs. The GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares invite teens to compose an original song or music video that celebrates a healthy lifestyle or depicts a story about drug abuse.
You get to control the message in the music—and you might win tickets to see the GRAMMY Awards!
About the Teens! Make Music Contest
- Music must be original.
- You can submit an original song only or an original song with a video.
- Entries must be less than 4 minutes long.
- Entries must be submitted by December 2, 2013.
- 1st Place: $500 and two tickets to the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards
- 2nd Place: $250
- 3rd Place: $100
- All winners will be invited to attend the GRAMMY Awards Backstage Experience
And tell us in comments: How do you feel about drug references in songs?
SBB has the scoop on the lucky teens who have won the the MusiCares and GRAMMY Foundation Teen Substance Abuse Awareness through Music Contest---their prize includes a trip to Los Angeles to attend a GRAMMY rehearsal backstage! You might remember from a recent blog that the contest is part of NIDA’s National Drug Facts Week. We asked teens ages 14-18 to compose or create an original song and/or music video that “explores, encourages, and celebrates a healthy lifestyle or accurately depicts a story about drug abuse.
The three winners focused on personal experience living around drugs, and told their stories through original music and lyrics.
First prize went to the songwriting team of Daevion Caves, an 18-year-old high school junior, and Jordan Atkins, a 16-year-old sophomore, both students at Alton high School in Alton, Illinois. Their music video, “Drug Free State of Mind,” shows them living daily around drug use but having the courage to stay drug-free: “We all Shootin’ Stars, patiently waiting to be seen…remember what you do, you got the power to… determine your future.”
Second place went to Markiest “Ghost” Jones, a 15-year-old 10th grader from Plantation High School in Plantation, Florida. His musical composition, “A Clearer View,” is a rap song he described as a cautionary tale about what happens when you decide to take drugs: “Do better than addicted/Make love the true prescription/Hope is all you gonna need/So believe you can achieve.”
Third place went to Vera Marquardt, a 17-year-old in recovery at the Phoenix House Academy in Los Angeles, California. Raised in Hawaii, Vera strums a ukulele to accompany the story of her journey that she calls “Take it to the Days.” Her lyrics include these words: “Take it to the Days When I didn’t have to Depend/the easy way out has slowed me down… but I lift off the ground.”
The winners will be given star treatment at the 53rd GRAMMY awards. But more important, they are living proof that you can pursue your dreams without getting distracted by drugs.
Interested in watching and hearing the winning entries? Go to: http://drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/contest.php
If you are having trouble listening to the audio files you may need to download the free Windows Media Player
MusiCares and GRAMMY Foundation Teen Substance Abuse, in collaboration with NIDA recently sponsored the Awareness through Music Contest for high school students to create and perform an original composition called the Teen Substance Abuse Awareness through Music Contest. The first-place winners, Jordan Atkins and Dae’ Vion Caves, write here about what this experience means to them.
Hello fellow listeners and fans. This is Jordan Atkins and Dae’ Vion Caves. We would just like to share with you why we wrote this song. We give special thanks to God, first and foremost, but we received news about the contest through a counselor at our school. The counselor went to our manager/leader, Mrs. Wittman, of the group and from there we worked on the song and video.
It took a lot of dedication, since we had only two weeks before the deadline, but we were able to let that be a minor issue and finish the song and video with help from our friends that lived in the community.
We have a rap group at our school named "Alton High School’s 618," which consists of four members, but only two of us were able to compete in the competition, due to the rules.
The reason we wrote the lyrics is because we are trying to tell people to rise above their circumstances. We know, from our own family experiences that things can get rough at times, especially when you have no one to turn to.
We just want to let all of the fans, children, and even adults know that no matter how hard the struggle becomes, you can always follow your dreams. You shouldn’t let anyone get in the way of that!! We are just another two artists who are trying to make something happen with our lives, but when we come together as one, we can have the world on our side.
We thank everyone for all of the support and hope to come out in the industry so you can all enjoy our music. The feeling is unimaginable, although we want to stay humble. We have A LOT of support throughout our city, school, and friends. Along with us, our community is helping to raise funds so we can get our other two members to attend with us in February.
We thank our school, community, and fans for all of the support and once again, we hope we can get into the music industry so you all can hear our music. Thank You!!
When the first-place prize was announced “you could hear the screams all the way down the hall.” That’s the word from Zac Lovett, Dae’ Vion Caves, Jordan Adkins, and Farrell Terry, who won top prize in the MusiCares® and GRAMMY Foundation's® Teen Substance Abuse Awareness through Music Contest. Their prize included going backstage at a GRAMMY rehearsal on February 11, where they got to see Rhianna rehearse, we well as B.o.B., Bruno Mars, Janella Monae, Miranda Lambert—and they even got to meet Drake, the rapper who performed with Rhianna on GRAMMY night.
A long way from their hometown of Alton, Illinois, 18-year-old Dae’ Vion Caves and 16-year-old Jordan Earle Atkins flew to Hollywood with their mothers and teacher to collect their first place award, which also included a visit to the GRAMMY Museum and an afternoon at the famous Venice Beach. Two of their friends, Zac Lovett and Ferrell Terry, who collaborated with them on the winning song, also attended. SBB interviewed Dae’ Vion and Jordan in Hollywood, who both said they had big dreams and were not going to mess up their lives with drugs.
NIDA plans to hold this contest each year, in partnership with the wonderful Musicares® and the GRAMMY Foundation®. The 2011 music contest will begin in May this year, so stay tuned and charge up your creative energy. We will announce the winners during our 2nd National Drug Facts Week (October 31 – November 2, 2011). Everyone’s got a chance to win! Check out other SBB blog posts on the GRAMMY music contest: