Music review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
Play Music Poster Image
Electronica + gospel samples = unique dance music.

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Kids say

age 11+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Moby's inventive fusion of gospel vocal samples with electronic grooves breaks down artistic boundaries between genres, and shows how unique music can be created using music libraries and modern technology.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Moby has frequently used his fame and talent to promote charitable causes, including, the Humane Society, and a free Tibet. He hosts a website,, that allows filmmakers to license free music for their nonprofit, independent films; the arrangement is structured so that if the films do produce revenue, funds are donated to the Humane Society. In 2009, Moby heard that California was cutting funding to assist victims of domestic violence, so he donated revenue from several performances to the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.


There's no explicitly violent content in the lyrics on Play, but one song is called "Machete." There's also a line in that song: "Took the needles from my arms and put them to the sky"; this is probably more drug-related than violent. The hit song "Natural Blues" has the line "Looked on the bed and brother was dead."


There are some sensual grooves on a few of the Play tracks ("Rushing," "South Side," "Bodyrock"). Lyrically, just a couple of songs have mildly sexual content. "Bodyrock" says "Rock the body/ Gonna make you freak" and "Get down baby." "Machete" says "I had you in my hands," and "Sky Is Broken" has the lines "Pull your mouth close to mine" and "Hold your mouth close to mine." "Run On" has a line about adultery: "Some people go to church just to signify/ Trying to make a date with the neighbor's wife."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There's a line in "Machete" that could be drug-related: "Took the needles from my arms and put them to the sky."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Moby's hit album Play climbed back onto UK and U.S. charts months after it was first released, partly because of exposure that resulted from licensing. Play was the first album where every song was licensed; songs were used in movies, TV, and commercials. Some of the tracks have sensual grooves, and a few have suggestive lyrics, including lines such as "Rock the body/ Gonna make you freak" on "Bodyrock," and "Hold your mouth close to mine" on "Machete." "Run On" has a line about adultery. In "Natural Blues," a dead body is discovered, and "Machete" says, "Took the needles from my arms and put them to the sky," which could be considered violent and/or drug-related.

User Reviews

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Teen, 15 years old Written byCooltiger37 July 8, 2019

Superb electronica album fine for kids, though best saved for older preteens

While the very minor things CSM's review listed as edgy most definitely do NOT deserve to give the album a 13+ rating, if their reasoning is that kids youn... Continue reading

What's the story?

Moby's June 1999 release PLAY had been a moderate success for the electronica artist, but the album re-entered the UK and U.S. charts late that year, and into 2000, after the songs were successfully licensed, one after another, to films, TV shows, and commercials for American Express and others. Play became the first album ever to have every song licensed in some fashion. Musically, this collection blends some unusual elements -- gospel and blues vocal samples, for example -- with the electronic grooves for which Moby is better known. Lyrically, the songs touch on themes of religion, loneliness, romantic love, and dancing.

Is it any good?

Play offers a variety of rhythms and feels, some more effective than others. Fans who love Moby for his more ethereal, groove-laden music will find tracks to love on Play; other listeners will be hooked by his inventive combination of gospel vocals with electronic sounds and beats. Either way, Moby is a masterful collector and creator of dance sounds, and Play is one of his most unique and varied albums.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Moby's use of his fame to further causes he believes in, such as the Humane Society and Do you think artists should use their popularity to inflence listeners' political views?

  • Moby's fame comes partly from the way he successfully licensed his music for commercial use. What do you think about the use of popular music in commercials?

  • Do you value the creativity of artists who incorporate samples into their music as much as music where all the instruments were played by humans?

Music details

  • Artist: Moby
  • Release date: June 1, 1999
  • Type: Album
  • Label: EMI
  • Genre: Dance/pop
  • Parental advisory: No
  • Edited version available: No
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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