It’s big and bold with black and white print…
“PARENTAL ADVISORY | EXPLICIT CONTENT.”
The 30 year-old label is like that kid who graduated high school and still comes around for parties and football games. We get it, you were relevant once. Please just leave. It’s 2016 and we live in an era of streaming. Hard copies of albums are practically irrelevant, so do these parental advisory “warnings” even matter anymore? Are they necessary? Who pays attention?
Tipper Gore and Susan Baker created the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) in 1984. The PMRC was upset with the music’s suggestive lyrics at the time, and demanded the parental advisory label be born. The first version of the PA label looks like the one pictured below. Artists such as Prince and Madonna had their albums adorned with this label.
In 1990, the black-and-white label was born. Hip-hop albums were among the first to have this sticker popping off their covers.
Parents seem to be the only ones to care about the PA label, hence “parental advisory.” In this generation, parents can only control so much of what music their children listen to. Kids, on the other hand, do not care and would probably not go out of their way to find a clean version of a song. Internet access is so easily accessible from a lot of kids’ electronic devices (like Nintendos and iPods) that the internet is their sexual innuendo and curse word oyster.
In contrast to movie ratings, PG-13 and R-rated movies suggest an age that is acceptable for viewing. Parental advisory warnings, however, do not. The label boasts “explicit content.” “Explicit” can mean anything from violence and foul language to sex and drug abuse.As streaming continues to take over the music industry, the PA label still appears on album covers online (example: Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly”).
Although the PA label shows up on albums here and there, its power has greatly decreased. With albums so easily accessible online through streaming, it can be tough to find a clean version of one. On Spotify, Drake doesn’t have a clean version of “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late.” Neither does Kendrick.
A surprising fact about the PA label is that the record labels and the artist decide whether or not to put it on the cover. It is recommended, but not required.
Adam Levine of Maroon 5 shared his opinion on the PA label in an Instagram post, saying how “stupid this label is” and that “adhering to a meaningless label won’t make [him] a good parent.”
I know it may be passé or very "90s" to still care about how stupid this label is. But It happened during my youth so jm passionate about it. Adhering to a meaningless label won't make me a good parent. Asking my kid about what they're listening to will. I also often wonder, why aren't there labels like this on McDonald's bags? If I have a happy, healthy kid who does well in school, doesn't eat Big Macs every day, and listens to Doggystyle on repeat, I'll consider myself a successful father. #fuckcensorship
Foregoing the PA label isn’t an issue the music industry should think about solving. It is not harming anyone, it just exists and is often overlooked. Whether you choose to ignore it is entirely up to you.