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Along with their ABCs, American kids are learning their XXXes

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Date published: 6/3/2001

HAS THIS EVER happened to you? You hear a song on the radio and decide you like it so much that you buy the compact disc. You get it home and play it only to find out that the rest of the CD sounds nothing like the song you heard on the radio, and you realize you'll probably never listen to the CD again.

I know there are ways to solve or prevent the problem: You can return the CD to the store, mail it back to the club, or go to one of several sites on the Web beforehand and listen to other cuts to see if you like them.

Fine. But in a recent case, this particular song was a catchy pop ballad that I might have paid little attention to had my 4-year-old daughter not picked up the words and started singing along whenever the song came on the radio. From a parental point of view, it was certainly just good clean fun. We'd even sing along together in the car.

So when my sister, who lives five hours away, asked what I wanted for my birthday, I suggested this CD, assuming that the other songs would be similarly catchy if not legendary works of recording art.

Not even close. First, I noticed the parental warning label, which had
never been a concern in the past. Then I played it.

The first cut is a street-talk introduction that includes a clear reference to a sex act. It's part of a message to teen-age listeners about how to prevent the spread of disease, if you get my drift, in terms that young people wouldn't confuse with parent- or teacher-talk.

It's actually a worthwhile message, and if that's what it takes to get that important point across, fine. I just don't want my 4-year-old or 6-year-old, both of whom have vacuum cleaners for ears, to hear that language and then blithely repeat it.

Much of the rest of the CD was of the dreaded rap genre, which falls well outside my musical taste.

OK, OK. I can hear you hep cats out there calling me out-of-touch and out-of-step and generally past the age of usefulness in the pop culture and every other respect.

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