BOSTON -- An initiative to encourage healthy teen relationships says songs by Jamie Foxx and Lady Gaga are the musical equivalent of junk food.
A teen panel working with the Boston Public Health Commission has determined that their songs are among the top 10 with "unhealthy relationship ingredients."
The commission on Tuesday released its list based on a "nutrition label" rating popular songs on healthy relationship themes.
The "Sound Relationships Nutrition Label" was developed by 14 teens after they attended a seven-week commission-sponsored institute on healthy relationship promotion and teen dating violence prevention. During the seven-week program, teens were also taught to evaluate music based on themes of power, control, equality and gender roles.
The teens then developed their list after analyzing songs from Billboard's "Hot 100" chart.
Mario's "Break Up" featuring Gucci Man and Sean Garrett and Jamie Foxx's "Blame It" featuring T-Pain topped the list for the most unhealthy relationship songs of 2009. Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" and Pitbull's "Hotel Room Service" were also listed.
Among the teen panel's top 10 songs with healthy themes: "Miss Independent" by Ne-Yo and "Meet Me Halfway" by the Black Eyed Peas.
Shaquilla Terry, 15, of Boston, a teen panel member, said it was important for listeners to go beyond the songs' beats and listen to the lyrics.
The commission says its program aims to teach teens how to evaluate popular media, and help parents talk to teens about healthy relationships. Commission officials also said the label invites consumers to become song lyric nutritionists by helping them identify positive and negative messages about relationships in songs.
"We aren't telling people what they should or should not be listening to," Barbara Ferrer, the commission's executive director, said in a statement. "We are giving them a tool that will help them make an informed choice about what they put in their bodies."
In addition to the label, the commission also plans to released a lesson plan for teachers.
Jack Perricone, chair of the songwriting department at the Berklee College of Music, said pop songs generally allow listeners to get away from the bad news of the day. But he said pop music, by its very nature, is very repetitive, and sometimes if songs have negative messages, those repetitive messages can get inside teens' heads.
"Some (artists) play up the bad boy image and put out negative images as a way to be commercially successful," said Perricone, who was not affiliated with the commission. "But then they have to deal with the moral implications."
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