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Keeping Music Real This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Music is a powerful thing. It evokes feelings and has the power to bring people together. Music is also a way for people to express themselves and share ideas, whether through poetic lyrics or throbbing anthems. But today, artists are not known for their music, but for how extravagant their outfits are and how many times their wealthy relatives can get them out of jail. And thus music is lost.

Pop and rap music has evolved into a shallow, image-obsessed industry that conforms to what the public wants to hear and see, eliminating the focus on the actual music. Mainstream music is no longer composed of emotion, but instead themes of money, sex, and fame. Pop and rap performers are notorious for their run-ins with police, their latest diet, or their most recent affair. Photos and rumors fly while the music is ignored.
Not all musical groups or soloists begin like this. Many of these artists are original and talented, but they may feel the stress of being underappreciated and turn to the money side for support. Often their songs are written by experts who know what is appealing to a certain age group, and the musicians’ faces are plastered on as many magazine covers as possible. Soon their supposedly new and improved songs can be heard blasting out of car windows. But these songs are empty shells, devoid of creativity and the original thirst of the artist to make an impact or convey a message.

Countless pop and rap songs today fit into a very slim mold – not just the music, but those who perform it. Some female musicians struggle with eating disorders because of the increased attention of the media and the public on their looks instead of their musical talent. Most popular songs follow the same pattern – singable, with a catchy beat and a flashy band.

These songs teach listeners that what’s on the outside is important, and money matters. These messages are also shown through music videos containing sexual themes, as well as people wearing “grills” and other decorations meant to show their wealth. Many rap videos promote the “gangsta” image, encouraging people to act tough, embrace violence, and swear. These videos can propagate false views of African-Americans.

MTV is not helping. It has become increasingly racy and plays only what the public wants to hear. And unfortunately, the majority seems interested in either sickly sweet, generic pop or stereotypical, bleeped-out rap. Kids and teens everywhere are swimming in these songs, which are often degrading to women and minorities, and inappropriate.

This past summer at camp, almost all the girls in my bunk were obsessed with the same songs, which had been the case the previous year, and the year before that. These songs, including Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend,” were blasted in the bunk at all hours from campers’ iPods. Whenever I tried to play music I enjoyed, or introduce them to some decent songs (in my view), they would say that everyone except me liked their music. They had me there.

None of this is to say that all pop and rap music today fits this mold. Artists like Sublime and Jurassic 5 produce rap without the silly extras – just great rhythm and pulsing lyrics. A lot of high-quality pop music exists as well. Although some talented musicians thrive, the entire music industry has devolved into something that’s almost unrecognizable.

Music is no longer just for pleasure, but instead is a huge part of the economy. It is valued for its power to influence people everywhere. Not only does the music business make money from songs, but lots of useless products carry rap and pop stars’ names and faces.

Why do most teenagers exclusively listen to pop and rap music when so many other genres exist? Maybe it’s because everywhere we look, we are bombarded with the same music: on the radio, on TV, on the computer. At school, pop and rap are discussed religiously. Perhaps they have never listened to anything else. Or maybe peer pressure is part of it. Another reason some people listen to popular music is because it is easy listening, with no abnormalities, since anything unique is considered weird.
There is no solution to the “pop problem.” It’s called popular for a reason – many people enjoy it. People who like pop and rap music are the same as people who like rock and punk music – they are just fond of a particular genre of music. It’s not a heinous crime, and there’s no easy way to sway their views.

Still, many artists are ruined because of the increased focus on money and image. My suggestion is not to buy into music like this when you can explore something new. Expand your horizons. Dig up your parents’ old records and CDs. You never know what you might find.

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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This article has 281 comments. Post your own now!

real said...
Jan. 1 at 1:18 am
my love for music is real...i love all genre since the age of 4....its a record to me if the melody meks me feel something...the lyrics shud always be a bonus! u shud feel the music then the words u truly feel fit it!! end of. i have a million melodys in my head but cant play an instrument...but the words i have to my music r floorless..given the chance...i cant sing as well as others but can sing enough for my songs to have a meaning xxx plz sum 1 giv me the chance for my words to be sung!!! xxx
 
Bookworm134This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Dec. 7, 2015 at 9:58 am
I definitely agree with what you wrote. All of my friends like all the same music, and honestly it is pure boring to me. There is the rare song that I actually like, but all the others just sound like a police car's siren to me, to tell the truth. I usually listen to bands from many years ago, and every time I suggest that my friends listen to, Pink Floyd, for example, they say, "No way!" I listen to pop music, but also Coldplay, and The Bangles, and generally what I find is that the music I lis... (more »)
 
jedjake said...
Dec. 2, 2015 at 3:30 pm
You go girl
 
dazzeliance said...
Dec. 2, 2015 at 5:14 am
I had been thinking about this rap fads since long....just wasn't able to put it down on the paper.......you have written exactly what I feel....good job
 
ShuviTheGeekThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Oct. 24, 2015 at 12:48 pm
Amen. I totally agree with your opinion. I usually listen to indie, punk, and alternative rock with good lyrics, not the garbage they call "music" these days. Great job with the article! It was concise and to the point.
 
CNBono17This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jul. 1, 2015 at 7:36 am
I totally agree with this! I listen to mostly Christian music, with some classical and movie scores and Broadway musicals thrown in, and some of the pop songs and rap I've heard makes me kinda sick. Thank you for defying my school and letting me know I'm not the only one who's seen this problem!
 
OldSouledHippie said...
Jun. 30, 2015 at 4:37 pm
I listen to classic rock, blues, rock n' roll. That kind of stuff. It has more emotion in it today than 99% of what's on the radio. A lot of it is "Oh watch me do the most ghetto dance of all time" (sorry if I offend) and "Don't tell your boyfriend that we did it." I mean, really? I've seen so many kids grow up WAY too quickly. I hated that I had to grow up on the spot due to my grandpa's death. But this is completely different. Kids think it's okay to go out there at 11 years old and get pregna... (more »)
 
nikki said...
Jun. 15, 2015 at 9:26 pm
Personally, I listen to heavy metal. However, I see nothing wrong with this music. People should listen to what they enjoy, whether it is mainstream or not. Just because one person may view pop lyrics meaningless, does not mean that some can not find a personal meaning in it. Not to mention in my opinion it doesn't matter what the artist does in the spare time because I am not listening to them because of that. I am listening to them because I like the sound of their music. Another common belief... (more »)
 
annycs13This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Feb. 19, 2015 at 5:49 pm
This is a very interesting and well spoken article. I think that every word is very true and important. Good job.
 
ShadowboxerThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 2, 2015 at 4:41 pm
Thank you for this opinion, it speaks the truth and it speaks it well. I have experienced similar things such as your recollection of peers not being so willing to listen to "real" music. Music needs to be broadened and appreciated as it once was, thanks for this! Nice work
 
AltheaRaine said...
Jan. 28, 2015 at 8:08 am
I LOVE THIS!! It's so true, and about time someone spoke up! Thank you!
 
kimisThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Nov. 14, 2013 at 7:49 pm
This is so true and that's why I can't find a good type of music to listen to. And the rap and stuff it seems that they're trying to see who can say the most cuse words in a song. It's just stupid if you ask me.
 
XXamutoxX1000 said...
Nov. 13, 2013 at 12:53 pm
thats cool i also listen to rock and three days grace is awesome <3
 
fxckafag said...
Aug. 13, 2013 at 7:52 pm
well said!
 
jlsnchz said...
Jul. 5, 2013 at 1:34 am
Yes music has gotten dirtier, nastier. I always listen to lyrics on any song, and some do offend me. However music is not really something I relate too or connect with. It can make me feel more relaxed though. 
 
clary said...
Jun. 13, 2013 at 12:42 pm
This is true. I remember before artists would sing songs that meant something now they care if there song is popular. There are only a few artists that still sing with a song that has meaning.
 
Niquel said...
Jun. 13, 2013 at 12:09 pm
Wow, this is a really great editorial. I agree entirely. I, personally, listen to rock music. I love the style, and a lot of the songs are about life and the lyrics mean something special to me. I agree, some rock bands are not that way such as Nickleback, or My Darkest Days--which focus on sex and drugs. But I adore song like Afterglow by Nine Lashes, and Last to Know by Three Days Grace. They mean something to me and they help me get through hard times. Thanks for an amazing editorial.
 
DifferentTeenThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Feb. 25, 2013 at 6:58 pm
I for one am in love with this article. I agree one-hundred percent, I feel this way about not only music but other trends people tend to fall into. With the recent song called "Thrift shop", sure it’s hilarious but it has no depth, no real meaning. Have artists really run out of meaningful things to produce good quality music about? It is rare for me to be emotionally attached to a song categorized as "pop" because I often find it not only degrading to myself as a woma... (more »)
 
BrandybuckTook said...
Feb. 25, 2013 at 6:10 pm
I completely agree. Music is just not music anymore. It's used to gain popularity and money. But if people like us speak out, we may be able to changed that!
 
EsmeFiaFranz said...
Feb. 25, 2013 at 11:56 am
I understand what you mean here, but I don't agree. Modern Rap today really has very little meaning and can therefore come across shallow. I used to listen to rap because when I was younger it was consider not mainstream and I loved it, but now all I hear is how this guy wants to have sex with these girls, getting high, drinking and being a "gangster". I'm sorry, but I don't see anything to decode. Rappers like Lil' Wayne don't rap about anything meaningful. But the... (more »)
 
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