So, what's the deal with those "Parental Advisory" stickers on CDs? The whole thing started back in 1984 when Tipper Gore took extreme umbrage to the lyrics of Prince's "Darling Nikki," from the album 1999. There are much more detailed records of the complete history of the whole affair, but here is a short, concise attempt to describe the origins of the "Parental Advisory" sticker.
After Gore's outrage at the lyrical content of some of the music of the mid-80's, she and three other Washington wives formed the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC). In an independent move at about the same time, the National Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) sent a letter to several record companies and to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) requesting that albums containing objectionable content be identified with a warning label.
In 1985, the three groups, the RIAA, the PTA, and the PMRC, worked together to address their concerns regarding "explicit content" on albums, tapes, and CDs. The organizations reached an agreement that certain music releases containing explicit lyrics, including explicit depictions of violence and sex, would be identified so parents could make "intelligent listening choices for their children." It was pretty cool to see and hear Frank Zappa, Dee Snider, and John Denver so eloquently defend the right to free speech at the Senate hearing in September of 1985.
Oh, by the way, the first album ever to be released on CD was Billy Joel's 52nd Street on October 1, 1982 in Japan. The first albums to receive a Parental Advisory label were released in the late '80's and included Danzig's self-titled album, Soundgarden's Louder Than Love, Guns N Roses's Appetite for Destruction, and 2 Live Crew's As Nasty As They Wanna Be, with the warning sticker affixed to the cellophane wrap.
Parental Advisory labels were standardized in 2000 with a design that is still used today. In 2002, warning labels got even more specific when parental advisory stickers were updated with additional warnings about strong language, violent content, or sexual content.
As of October 23, 2006, the official RIAA stance on parental advisory stickers states that “the Parental Advisory is a notice to consumers that recordings identified by this logo may contain strong language or depictions of violence, sex or substance abuse. Parental discretion is advised.” Individual record companies and artists are free to decide which of their releases should receive a “PAL Notice” indicating that the release contains explicit content.
Having said all that, here are a couple of simple tips for moms and dads: parental monitoring and open lines of communication. Find out what your kids are listening to (and watching, and with whom they're hanging out, etc., etc.), and talk with them about their listening choices. If you give them money to buy music, find out what they picked out at the record store or from iTunes and ask them why they like that particular song / band / album. Hey, you might even end up digging their tastes as much as you loved Twisted Sister!