If you must know, my four-year-old’s favorite song is “Beez in the Trap” by Nicki Minaj, which is full of the sexes and the swears and the filthy rapping. I personally do not mind. So, naturally, I love to mock the hell out of Chart Watch, a pop music guidebook for parents published in 1998 by extremist Christian group Focus on the Family, found at a thrift store long ago and pulled out for a good several tipsy guffaws while hosting friends and remembering the Tipper Gore era.
Chart Watch is a 350-page paperback guide to over 400 popular albums from the 1990s, examined through an ultraconservative lens and rated entirely on how strictly the music’s content aligns with Focus on the Family’s anti-abortion, anti–premarital sex, creationist, alcohol-free, homophobic beliefs. Meant to assist Christian parents in monitoring their teens’ musical choices, it is an absolute motherlode of unintentional hilarity, especially when you imagine the religious authors listening to songs like King Missile’s “Detachable Penis” and ingesting lyric after lyric of, as copiously quoted in the book, “F—,” “S—” and “B—–s.”
It’s no surprise the book takes the most umbrage at rap albums. On Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle: “This Dogg has fleas, but no one seems to care . . . avoid this trash at all costs.” On Silkk the Shocker’s Charge It 2 Da Game: “Obscenity-strewn trash from start to finish. Drugs. Misogyny. Murder. Sexual perversion.” On Mase’s Harlem World: “There’s nothing artistic about obnoxious bragging, anonymous sex, murderous gunplay, or being able to rhyme things with the f-word.”
But it’s not just rappers; Chart Watch even takes aim at conservative bastions of white America like Garth Brooks (“lyrically inconsistent . . . skip the disc”), Celine Dion (“references to sex outside of marriage”) and Shania Twain (“sexual ethics lack clarity”). Incredibly, the book’s authors express disappointment even in Christian artists Amy Grant (“longing for intimacy”) and Jars of Clay (“teens expecting edifying answers . . . will need to seek elsewhere”).
You might think reason would be found turning to the entry for Kenny G. Alas, you underestimate the absurdity of Focus on the Family. “‘Two lovers . . . will be together in the morning,’ without explaining whether or not they’re married,” it condemns.
Seriously. Kenny G.
Chart Watch is out of print, but with a ’90s revival in full swing, it’s a perfect gag gift. Beck, Sublime, Aqua, Spice Girls, Aaliyah, Butthole Surfers—they’re all in here. You can find copies online for about three bucks, and the best part is that it’s a remaindered title, so no money goes to Focus on the Family. Because F— those B—–s.