5 Artists/Media to Know About with Your Students

Wes Rasbury
May 2nd, 2019

I feel that I need to start with the following caveat: In preparation for this article, I did my own small survey of some of my Student Leadership Team, and the five different artists and media that I highlight in this are the most common among the nine responses I received. Granted, these are from some of my more mature students, however I think they are reflective of my group at large. I will first talk about the artists identified by my students, and then talk about the media which they identified.

The most popular artist identified, by far, by my students was Khalid. Khalid is a talented musical artist who has been on the scene for a couple of years now, and has quickly risen to the top of the charts with songs like “Eastside,” “Location,” “Young, Dumb & Broke,” and “lovely.” He was also featured on the latest season of The Voice as a celebrity coach for John Legend. From what I have heard and been able to read, Khalid is the real deal and has some great music. I think you could find any current top artist today with songs with questionable lyrics and meaning behind their songs, but I would say my students could be listening to much worse than Kahlid.

The second most popular artist submitted by my students was Billie Eilish. I’ll be honest, before texting this out to this group, I was not familiar with Billie Eilish. However, after the responses, I caught up quickly on this popular female musical artist. What I heard in her songs was what sounded like the quieter, more angsty voice of something similar to a Taylor Swift. A quick read up on lyrics and meaning behind a handful of her songs proves my initial theory. In my opinion, I would prefer my students keep listening to Khalid instead of Eilish. Her music is angsty, depressing, and dark (and her music videos are on another whole level of this). Perhaps that is the draw from stressed out high school students. However, I would say I am not fan of Eilish’s music overall.

The two social media apps that tied for the most mentions from my students were Instagram and Snapchat. I will show my hand here and say that I am partial to Instagram. Also, I do not use or even have Snapchat downloaded. I think you can find what you want on either of these apps, so that is good to keep in mind whether you are a parent, a youth worker, or a student. I would say that my students probably use Snapchat as their primary source of communicating with each other, so there are some good things that you can use it for. It can be a powerful and useful tool for communication. However, we’ve all heard of people getting in trouble with Snapchat because of the “disappearing” content (thus the reason I refuse to download it in the first place). Instagram can be used in a similar way. I am able to use it to follow friends and students, all over the world. I also use it to promote our Student Ministry events and happenings. However, I’m sure you can find the darker side of Instagram if you dig enough. One student in particular pointed out that Instagram was especially challenging for her, seeing everyone’s highlight reel and working through the comparison trap. Thus, both app can be good or bad. While the platform themselves are neutral; the users are the ones who determine which way it goes.

The last media that was identified by my students and had more mentions than other options was Reddit. I will pause here and say that this was actually a surprise for me. I don’t know why, but I did not expect Reddit to make the list at all. Nonetheless, I had multiple mentions from multiple students. Similar to the above apps mentioned, Reddit has some good content and can be used to read up on topics, issue, interests, etc. However, the thing my students pointed to was the darker side of Reddit. One said that Reddit “is great for just browsing all kinds of cool things going on in the world…but also houses a fair amount of non-kid friendly content.” Another student said, “there’s some really sketchy stuff on there and while some of it’s cool, there’s a lot of inappropriate stuff too.”

This article was good research, not solely in preparation for the writing of this post, but for myself personally and professionally as well. As a youth worker, our job is sitting on the curb in student’s lives. And in order to properly do this, we need to know what they are reading, listening to, watching, etc. I often spend my time listening to the bands I like and watching the things I like. However, this was a good reminder that I need to spend some of my time asking my students what they are into. Not to “check-up” on them, but to further understand them and the world they are living in. While I am great at doing this on any road trip with my students (i.e., I will take my time with my captive audience to ask and understand what slang they currently use and what it means), I do not often do this practice outside of that time. One of the best parts of this experience overall was listening to my students articulate the dangers of specific apps or media or artists. Maturity. Spiritual maturity. How incredible to hear that unprompted from your students?!

Wes Rasbury

Wes is the Student Minister at Greenville Oaks Church of Christ in Allen, TX.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.