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Music Discussions

Shake It Off
A Quick Music Discussion Guide
01/15/2015

Dynamic ImageMain Point: We have to be careful how we respond to criticism in life. If it’s constructive, we should take it into consideration. If it’s hateful or destructive, we should just shake it off.

The Music Video:
Shake It Off added yet another #1 hit to the career of Taylor Swift, a young woman who’s accomplished so much in such a short time. The song basically describes Taylor Swift’s strategy for dealing with the naysayers in her life – which, as a very public figure, she probably has plenty of! In essence, when it comes to undue criticism, or unfair negativity, Swift just tries to “shake it off.” The lyrics are simple and a little immature, but otherwise harmless.

The music video features Swift singing and dancing against a backdrop of experts in their respective fields, for instance ballerinas, cheerleaders, dancers, singers, etc. As a consequence, Tay Tay comes off as quite imperfect up against their polished moves and abilities, but she seems OK with her shortcomings, and more importantly, seems able to shake them off.

NOTE: Some may consider the music video a bit risqué because of all the shaking of booties so you’ll have to be the judge about appropriateness for your group.

Song’s Lyrics:

I stay out too late
Got nothing in my brain
That's what people say, mmm-mmm
That's what people say, mmm-mmm

I go on too many dates [chuckle]
But I can't make them stay
At least that's what people say, mmm-mmm
That's what people say, mmm-mmm

But I keep cruising
Can't stop, won't stop moving
It's like I got this music
In my mind
Saying, "It's gonna be alright."

'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heart-breakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

I never miss a beat
I'm lightning on my feet
And that's what they don't see, mmm-mmm
That's what they don't see, mmm-mmm

I'm dancing on my own (dancing on my own)
I make the moves up as I go (moves up as I go)
And that's what they don't know, mmm-mmm
That's what they don't know, mmm-mmm

But I keep cruising
Can't stop, won't stop grooving
It's like I got this music
In my mind
Saying, "It's gonna be alright."

'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heart-breakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

Shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off

Hey, hey, hey
Just think while you've been getting down and out about the liars and the dirty, dirty cheats of the world,
You could've been getting down to this sick beat.

My ex-man brought his new girlfriend
She's like "Oh, my god!" but I'm just gonna shake.
And to the fella over there with the hella good hair
Won't you come on over, baby? We can shake, shake, shake

Yeah ohhh

'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate (haters gonna hate)
I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heart-breakers gonna break, break, break, break, break (mmmm)
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake (and fake, and fake, and fake)
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

Shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off

Shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off

Show the Music Video:
The music video can be found online at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfWlot6h_JM



Transitional Statement:
Shake It Off is one of Taylor Swift’s more fun music videos. As you saw, she surrounds herself with people who really know what they’re doing, which makes her lack of knowledge and expertise stand out so much more. But, instead of letting others bag on her, or getting depressed, she just tries to “shake it off.” That’s actually a pretty good strategy in life. Like her, you and I have to be careful about how we respond to criticism. Sometimes, the correction is constructive, so we should take it into consideration. But other times, it’s hateful and destructive, so we should just do what Swift does: “shake it off.” The Bible has lots to say about how we respond to others. Let’s look at one passage in our small groups and then reconvene for a final word.

Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.

CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.

Discussion Questions:
  1. AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and whether or not you’re a fan of Taylor Swift.

  2. ASK A FEW: Think back over the lyrics of the song, or look at them if need be. What were some of the things Taylor says folks criticize her about?

  3. ASK A FEW: In your opinion, are those fair criticisms of Taylor? Why or why not?

  4. ASK A FEW: Have you ever felt like Taylor, criticized or spoken about in a negative manner? If so, can you share how that made you feel?

  5. ASK A FEW: Taylor says she just “shakes off” what others say about her. Is that a good idea or not. Why?

  6. ASK A FEW: Is it easy or hard to “shake it off” what others say about you? Why?

  7. ASK A FEW: When it comes to criticism, not all of it is bad/negative. Sometimes, we receive criticism that we need to hear so we can straighten out an area of our lives. The big question then becomes, “How do we tell the difference between constructive criticism and negative criticism?” So, how do you decipher between the two?

  8. Read the following passage:

      Proverbs 13:1-6 (NIV)

      A wise son heeds his father's instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke. 2 From the fruit of his lips a man enjoys good things, but the unfaithful have a craving for violence. 3 He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin. 4 The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. 5 The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked bring shame and disgrace. 6 Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.

  9. ASK SOMEONE: How does the writer compare a “wise” person against a “mocker” in this passage?

  10. ASK A FEW: The writer of this passage was King Solomon. Do you think he knew anything about “being criticized by others”? Why or why not?

  11. ASK A FEW: When someone says something mean or unfair to us, what’s the last thing we want to do according to verse 3?

  12. ASK A FEW: What are some of the other tips Solomon shares with us about life in this short passage, specifically what we say to/about others?

  13. ASK A FEW: After reading these few verses, do you think King Solomon would have agreed with Taylor Swift that a good way to deal with negativity and criticism is to “shake it off”? How do you know?

  14. ASK A FEW: Have you ever internalized or held on to someone’s unfair criticism of you instead of just “shaking it off”? If so, how did it affect you? What do you wish you’d have done instead?

  15. ASK A FEW: What’s the benefit(s) of “shaking off” unfair and harsh criticism?

  16. AROUND THE CIRCLE: If you’re able to share, what’s something you need to “shake off” immediately?

Wrap Up:
The song we listened to tonight isn’t just catchy; it also contains a pretty important message. Simply put, we have to be able to “shake off” the rude, crude, and hateful criticism that comes our way in life. And trust me; it will come into your life at one point or another….

One of the first things we must do when others criticize us is determine if it’s criticism worth receiving…or if it’s just verbal hate trying to derail us. The Bible passage we looked at during our breakout discussions gives a good reference point to us. Let me remind you of what it said:
    A wise son heeds his father's instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.
Instruction is good. Its aim is to make us better. When someone – whether a parent, teacher, or friend – gives you instruction, you should probably take it in and reflect on it. After all, that person is trying to help you learn something. They might say something like, “Maybe you should find a more suitable sport to play.” Although that statement might cause some initial upset, they’re just trying to help you. When that’s the case, consider thinking about what they have to say.

On the other hand, if a person you know says, “You suck at sports so badly you ought to just give up,” you need to recognize this as unhelpful criticism. Unlike instruction, which is meant to help you grow, this harsh critique is meant to hurt. This is the kind of input you need to shake off.

And when we talk about “shaking it off,” let’s not fool ourselves. Let’s not say, “Oh, I don’t even think about what she said,” or “Who cares what that person said?” when we know we’re lying to ourselves. When someone says something mean or hurtful to us, we need to keep our cool and not try to retaliate. Next, we need to ask God to help us forgive that person for saying something so hurtful in the first place. And finally, we need to let God have the final word on us. Yep, others have spoken about us, and sometimes in harmful ways, but we need to let God have the last word on us. Ask Him to reveal to you how He would have you live. He will speak to you; all you have to do is listen.

Shaking off the hurtful criticism isn’t always going to be easy, but it will be worth it. We can’t carry around the verbal baggage others have saddled us with. We have to “shake it off.” If you need a little help in that department, hang around and grab one of our adult leaders before you go. We’d love to talk with you – in loving ways – about what you’ve been told in life. We want to tell you the truth, that you’re loved by us and God. So if you need a little encouragement, see one of us after I close us in prayer. We’d love to help you “shake off” anything that’s burdening your heart.


Close in Prayer

Written by David R Smith

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