Music is devolving

John Stafford ’13

Imagine sitting in your friend’s car, when all of a sudden the least thought-out song you’ve ever heard comes on. You assure yourself that nobody could like such an abomination, and that someone will turn the channel, but much to your dismay, your friend singing along. Maybe you just don’t understand the depth of the song, so you give it a listen, and the lyrics are even worse than the lack of musical talent they’ve thrown into it. How could this be? Well you see, music is slowly dying and you’re listening to its cries for help.

Music is one thing that I don’t want to watch die. I’ve devoted a greater portion of my life to studying music, and I’m actually disgusted at its current state. Our country, which was once saturated with soulful music, is now filled with mindless sheep following whatever the media tells them to like. I’m not saying I’m a hipster and hate everything that’s popular – some of it’s actually nice; however, most of it is horrible.

Allow me to start with the obvious one: mainstream rap music. Would you believe that people back in the day thought that a lot of popular music was too raw? Rap isn’t exactly my style, but the words they used to use occasionally had deep and meaningful lyrics. Now musical talent is considered writing vulgarities and placing the words “YOLO” or “swag” here and there. I long for the days of complex songwriting made for mature minds. Note that this doesn’t mean writing songs about drugs, partying, and doing the nasty-nasty.

Pop music is also horrible, who would have thought? Many of you are familiar with Taylor Swift, whose “artistic style” is pretty much giving her best impression of a melodramatic teen crying into a microphone. I can understand listening to a simple song just because it’s easy on the mind, but unfortunately pop music is easy on the mind in the same way that a lobotomy is. There’s a line between being relatable and pandering to teenage girls, and this music has far passed it.

Being “underground” doesn’t mean you listen to good things either, though. Dubstep probably frustrates me more than any other music fad. The musical score consists of a wub-wub here and a bass drop there. It’s the same thing repackaged over and over with nothing but slight differences. When your appreciation of a song counts on one component that’s been in every dubstep song so far – the bass drop – I think you need to start diversifying. Sure, if it was a one-time thing, I might be able to stand it, but people attend dubstep concerts and buy dubstep albums. People actually pay money to watch these “artists” “perform,” by which I mean somebody presses play on a Macbook.

Now why would anybody subject themselves to this garbage? Well it’s all a product of clever marketing. The reasons artists like Justin Bieber and One Direction are successful isn’t because of the quality of their music, obviously. It’s the fact that those artists can sell. Teenage girls don’t exactly think that Mozart is cute. What was formerly known as “selling out” has become “making music.” If we are told to enjoy an artist by many media outlets, many will believe that their peers like that artist. In a time when conformity is encouraged, and standing out is comparable to committing a crime, people fall to the illusion that people enjoy said artist’s music. This makes people want to listen to the artist to fit in musically. If you don’t like Nicki Minaj, how can you expect to be a part of the cool kids’ club? When did music stop being a fine art and become a product?

I wouldn’t consider myself an elitist; I don’t complain if somebody has different interests than I. I know for a fact, however, that the artists many of you love will be nothing more than an embarrassing memory. I understand people have different musical tastes than I, but I wouldn’t berate someone for having a taste for Ipecac either. When these atrocities start being touted around as a musical standard, it literally makes me sick. If you actually love music, put some effort into finding some real music. It isn’t always what everyone else likes, but difficult searches yield extravagant results.

John’s Playlist

 Day Thirteen: Sign – Ayreon

 Blackbird – Alter Bridge

 The Pretender – Foo Fighters

 Watching Over Me – Iced Earth

 Paradise Lost – Symphony X

 The Astral Pathway – Adagio

 Fear of the Dark – Iron Maiden

 Light Up the Night – The Protomen

 Vermillion Part 2 – Slipknot

 Rose of Sharyn – Killswitch Engage

 Soldier Side – System of a Down

 Detroit Rock City – KISS

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