Give Me a Rhythmic Break! This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     I was listening to the radio the other day, minding my own business, when I started to think about the meanings behind some of today’s popular songs. It seems that without a sexual reference or a shallow message, a song doesn’t get played on pop radio stations. Therefore, with few exceptions, I prefer the music that my parents listened to at my age - Janis Joplin, Fleetwood Mac, Jimi Hendrix and the like.

Comparing the works of songwriting greats like Bob Dylan and John Lennon to pop “artists” like Ashlee Simpson almost seems like a joke. Dylan and Lennon created music like it was meant to be - as an art form, not a way to get rich quick. They wrote about war and love, things that really matter in the world. In contrast, Ashlee Simpson co-wrote a song about growing up in the shadow of her famous sister. Give me a break, Ashlee.

Another aspect of today’s music that really irks me is that so much of it is created and tweaked by computers. Take Britney Spears’ “Slave 4 U.” I’ll refrain from even attempting to discuss some of this pathetic song’s promiscuous and meaningless lyrics. Nearly all the music, however, is computer generated and cannot be reproduced live. Instead, she parades across a stage wearing a live boa and little clothing with the track playing in the background. I suppose the purpose of this is to entertain the audience in the absence of a band.

This is quite different from Janis Joplin, who (live band and all) put so much emotion into her music that she felt having a boyfriend would detract from her art. In fact, she did not even need to be pretty to sell records. As a student at the University of Texas, she was voted “ugliest man on campus” by a fraternity, but she could sing like no one else.

Fortunately, the airwaves are not completely lacking in musical talent. Acts like Pearl Jam, Nelly, Dave Matthews Band and others continue to release album after album of interesting, meaningful material. I have a wide range of musical interest. I listen to rap, rock, pop, reggae and even a little country now and then. Thus, I realize that there are great artists in every genre, but there are also those who do not deserve to enter a studio. I am tired of those who are in the music business only for fame and fortune. Music is not meant to be a money maker. It is an art form. We just need to distinguish the Picassos from the finger painters.

Flipping through my CDs, I wonder, Is it weird that I listen to more Janis Joplin than Outkast? Maybe. But I think it would make a mockery of everything that bands like the Beatles stood for if I pretended not to love them.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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