Music Discussions

Turn Down for What

Dynamic ImageMain Point: In a world where “losing control” is celebrated, God’s people live by giving Him control.

The Song and Music Video:
The video for DJ Snake & Lil Jon’s song, Turn Down for What, is going viral, probably for the same reason LMFAO’s video Sexy and I Know It went viral or Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night went viral… this generation likes humor. The Turn Down for What is probably more random and bizarre than funny… but it’s definitely one that kids are talking about (hence, viral).

The video features a guy losing control as he hears the music and humping everything in sight. This “loss of control” grows contagious and afflicts others, destroying everything in its path.

The bizarre part is that the guy’s penis and one of the girl’s boobs seem to catch “the affliction” of the beat and begin gyrating out of control. Hard to even explain. (Read more about the song and video in our Youth Culture Window article here).

Regardless, I probably wouldn’t show this music video, at least in its entirety, at most church youth groups (even though many to most kids will have already seen it), because the lyrics alone offer plenty to discuss.

Intro Statement: You say this…

    I gotta feeling…
    That tonight’s gonna be a good night
    That tonight’s gonna be a good, good night…

Remember that song?


It’s a common theme in songs. That song, I’ve Got a Feeling, by the Black Eyed Peas, was at the top of the charts all summer in 2009, then back on the charts again when they opened the 2011 Super Bowl Halftime show with the song.

The lyrics of that song:

    I know that we’ll have a ball
    If we get down and go out
    And just lose it all
    I feel stressed out
    I won’t let it go
    Lets go way out spaced out
    And loosing all control

    Fill up my cup Mazel tov
    Look at her dancing
    Just take it…OFF

It’s funny how many songs have this message of “lose control” and “do whatever you want. In fact Wiz Khalifa, Timbaland, Missy Elliott and Keri Hilson each have a song by that title… Lose Control… just in the last few years. As for the topic of “doing whatever you want”… the examples are endless. I think Miley probably provides one of the most memorable songs with that message, in her song last summer, We Can’t Stop, saying…

    It’s our party we can do what we want
    It’s our party we can say what we want
    It’s our party we can love who we want
    We can kiss who we want
    We can sing what we want

And I think DJ Snake and Lil Jon took her advice, singing what they want. Because they didn’t seem to hold back with their simple little hit, Turn Down for What.

Let me hand out the lyrics so you can take a peek.

The Song’s Lyrics:

    Fire up your loud
    Another round of shots
    Fire up you…

    Turn down for what
    Turn down for what
    Turn down for what
    Turn down for what

    Fire up your loud
    Another round of shots

    Turn down for what
    Turn down for what
    Turn down for what
    Turn down for what
    Turn down for what

    Fire up your loud
    ‘nother round of shots
    Fire up your loud
    ‘nother round of shots
    Fire up your loud
    ‘nother round of shots
    Fire up your loud
    ‘nother round of shots

    Turn down for what
    Turn down for what
    Turn down for what
    Turn down for what
    Turn down for what

(optional- you can play the song or part of the song if you want- not necessary)

Large Group Discussion: You say this…

Someone tell me what “Fire up your loud” means. (see if any one knows)

“Loud” is a term for marijuana, so “fire up your loud” means light up. Sure, loud can also mean being loud and crazy, so it’s a nice “under the radar” message the song communicated. Parents don’t really know what it means, but many kids do.

We all know what “nother round of shots” means. Someone tell me what “turn down for what” means. (see if anyone knows)

“Turn up” means to get drunk or high. So if someone asks you to turn down, they are saying, “Chill,” maybe because you’re out of control or are going to get them in trouble. Then they might reply, “Turn down for what?” Meaning, “I’m not going to stop this partying for nothing. I don’t care!” Urban Dictionary defines it as being drunk and high and continuing to be all night no matter what.

In short, the song is saying, get high, get drunk and crazy, and don’t listen to anyone who tells you to stop. What reason is there to stop?

Transition Statement:
So let’s ask that question tonight, what reason is there to stop? Is it bad to light up, drink up and just lose control?

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: Let’s all take a moment to share our names and a song you heard that you enjoyed today or sometime this week.

  2. ASK A FEW: Why do you think the topic of losing control and doing what you want is so popular in music today?

  3. ASK A FEW: What do you think people are looking for when they engage in activities that help them “lose control”? Do you think they find it?

  4. The Center of Alcohol Studies at Rutger University did a research project (posted in The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs) following hundreds of young women from their senior year in high school through their freshman year of college. The study found two alarming discoveries:

    • Of girls who had never drunk heavily in high school (if at all), nearly half admitted to binge drinking at least once by the end of their first college semester.

    • Of all young girls whose biggest binge had included four to six drinks in one sitting, one quarter of them said they’d been sexually victimized in the fall semester. That included anything from unwanted sexual contact to rape. And the more alcohol those binges involved, the greater the likelihood of sexual assault. Of women who’d ever consumed 10 or more drinks in a sitting since starting college, 59% were either raped or sexually victimized in some way by the end of their first semester.

  5. ASK A FEW: What are some of the results that can happen when you light up or drink a ‘nother round of shots?

  6. ASK A FEW: Why do you think the girls in this study did shots? Do you think they ever thought about the ramifications of what might happen if they were to “lose control”?

  7. Read the following passage:

      Ephesians 5: 1-3, 15-18

      Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
      3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people.

      15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit…

  8. ASK A FEW: What are some truths in this verse that seem to jump out at you in contrast to the message of the song?

  9. ASK A FEW: What does it mean “let there be no sexual immorality or impurity” among you? What are examples of that we see today?

  10. ASK A FEW: What does it mean, “Don’t act thoughtlessly”? How does that apply to this song?

  11. ASK A FEW: What does the verse say about alcohol? How does that apply to this song?

  12. ASK A FEW: What does the verse tell us to be filled with?

  13. ASK A FEW: What will our lives be like if we live with God in control (being filled with the Spirit) instead of “losing control”? Considering what we read in this scripture, and the study on alcohol and drugs above… which sounds better?

  14. AROUND THE CIRCLE: What is one thing you heard tonight that makes you think about your decision-making?

Wrap Up:
Fill your cup! Mazel tov! It might be a catchy song… but is that the life you want?

In John 10:10 Jesus told us that he has come to give us life so we may live it to the full. God offers us so much joy and fun in this life… and guess what… we don’t have to be drunk, high or out of control to enjoy it. Point of fact… when we do engage in those activities, we’ll spend much of life in regret.

Maybe we should consider the words we heard from the Bible tonight, “living a life of love, following the example of Christ, no sexual immorality, don’t live like fools, don’t act thoughtlessly, don’t be drunk with wine…”

Some of you might say, “Yeah, but that’s difficult at times. Especially in a world where much of that is celebrated!”

Yep… in fact, it’s impossible to do all that stuff on your own. That’s why you need to listen to the last part of that passage, “be filled with the Holy Spirit.” In other words, put Him in control of your life.

If you’ve never done that, you can do it right now. You can say, “God, I’m tired of living life out of control… I want to give you control.”

Close in Prayer


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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