Keeping Music Real MAG

By Abby Holtzman, Newton, MA

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.



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This article has 290 comments.


-Duckie- GOLD said...
on Aug. 27 2011 at 6:31 pm
-Duckie- GOLD, West Fargo, North Dakota
18 articles 0 photos 127 comments

Favorite Quote:
Your heart is a weapon the size of your fist. Keep fighting. Keep loving.
-Anonymous

THANK YOU!!!! I was martyred at my camp this year for prefering Beethoven to Eminem, which ticked me off a little because really, it was none of their business what music I liked. And yet somehow they all complimented me on my piano-playing in the dining hall... funny how these things happen...

on Aug. 27 2011 at 9:52 am
Laura_Oliver GOLD, Manchester, Connecticut
12 articles 2 photos 122 comments
That's why I like Adele (like everybody else in the world), because you can actually hear guitars and drums and pianos and bells and other real instruments, not to mention she sounds great.

on Aug. 27 2011 at 9:49 am
Laura_Oliver GOLD, Manchester, Connecticut
12 articles 2 photos 122 comments
Hate to but in, but both of those 'women' are losers. If I were you I would look to peacemakers and worldchangers, not auto-tune and synthesizer-users.

on Aug. 27 2011 at 9:47 am
Laura_Oliver GOLD, Manchester, Connecticut
12 articles 2 photos 122 comments
You honestly took the words out of my mouth. I'm really into classical music (and I'm not saying that just to sound like a nerd), which is much preferrable to synthesizers and computer programmable stuff that anybody can do. Did you know that it is possible to purchase autotune online (I want to get the sample to see what it does)? That means any fool can make 'good' pop-style music. But real, old-fashioned instruments take a lifetime to master, and overall they sound much more genuine. I have been playing the violin for the greater part of my short life, and still I have miles and miles and miles to go. But that way it will all be worth it. Great article, anyway!

on Aug. 7 2011 at 8:49 pm
skoppy355 BRONZE, Arlington Heights, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life's like an hourglass glued to the table- from Breathe (2 am) by Anna Nalick

Ok- I'm not trying to get you or anyone else to like her.  I do, and I'm entitled to that opinion.  The point I'm trying to make to you is that yes, there are worse role models.  If I were a parent, I'd much rather have my child say "I want to be like Lady GaGa" than "I want to be like Britney Spears".  I sincerely hope that, on this point at least, we agree.

Lilliterra said...
on Aug. 7 2011 at 4:37 pm

How can you NOT judge her by her performances? Especially when she DECLARES "this is who I am"! I've never heard of her doing or saying any thing "humble".

Nothing about her gives you the impression of shallow? Not even the giant dollar signs?


on Aug. 7 2011 at 9:22 am
skoppy355 BRONZE, Arlington Heights, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life's like an hourglass glued to the table- from Breathe (2 am) by Anna Nalick

Her performances and appearances aren't what I'm judging her on, and I honestly don't see how you can.  As far as the shallow accusation, how can you possibly know that? Nothing- I repeat, nothing- that I have ever seen of her has ever given me that impression.  I've always seen that she's very funny, very personable, and very humble.  Im' not going to say that she's the very best role model anyone could have and that everyone should look up to her, but better her than Ke$ha or Britney!

Lilliterra said...
on Aug. 6 2011 at 8:49 pm
Hmmmm... she bleeds on stage, wears transparent plastic for clothing, and is the shallowest person in the world. I don't think she's a good role model.

on Aug. 6 2011 at 9:54 am
skoppy355 BRONZE, Arlington Heights, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life's like an hourglass glued to the table- from Breathe (2 am) by Anna Nalick

Do you know what she's done? How many countless people she's helped? She dedicates her life not only to her music but to raising awareness, not to mention the fact that she's designed products that ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of the proceeds go to her causes, like the people of Japan and finding a cure for AIDS.  So yes, there are far worse role models.

Aderes47 GOLD said...
on Aug. 5 2011 at 11:17 pm
Aderes47 GOLD, Cambridge, Massachusetts
11 articles 0 photos 897 comments

Favorite Quote:
You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have truly lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.
Henry Drummond

I agree a lot with you but a lot of times these artists sometimes have really good songs that no one's ever heard of. And sometimes they are not mass-produced. 

Good music is hard to find on the radio(where the majority of us teens get it) but you can find some good stuff on ITunes. Good music  is easy to find, you just have to look for it.


Lilliterra said...
on Aug. 5 2011 at 7:51 pm
Lady gaga? I can hardly think of a worse role model for anyone.

Sayuri97 GOLD said...
on Aug. 5 2011 at 12:59 pm
Sayuri97 GOLD, Gilford, New Hampshire
12 articles 0 photos 49 comments
I'm so glad there are other people out there who know the devious and dark secret side of the music industry. I also don't like the fact that many of today's artists may not be specifically musically talented, but are simply willing to do anything to get media's attention and therefore become popular and therefore sell their almost 100% auto-tuned music. It makes me sad just thinking about it! I personally love k-pop, j-pop, classical, punk, jazz, and christian rock, but even with all of these different genere's (oops, forget how to spell that, apologies) I still feel like the world continues to stink deeper into this pit created by a biased world media. I hope that in the future people will wake up one day and realize just how foolish everything has become!

on Jul. 26 2011 at 8:05 pm
IAmWhoIWantToBe PLATINUM, Manila, Other
41 articles 0 photos 650 comments

Favorite Quote:
‎"I’m learning how to drown out the constant noise that is such an inseparable part of my life. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. I only have to follow my heart and concentrate on what I want to say to the world: I run my world." - Beyoncé

Great article. This is so true. When I like something, I won't be surprised if it didn't get to be a single! :(((

on Jul. 14 2011 at 3:21 am
Wildflower30 SILVER, Kolkata, Other
8 articles 0 photos 88 comments

Favorite Quote:
Create your own sayings, for only then do they make sense most. ---- Me

I agree! I agree!
Even though some not-so-great practices prevailed during the retros, it has increased manifold now. The music industry isn't an exciting place anymore. I know I wouldn't feel ecstatic there.

on Jun. 29 2011 at 6:38 pm
Why thank you! If "Heart Of Glass" is your favorite, then you've got great taste too!!!

on Jun. 29 2011 at 2:55 pm
introducingshelby GOLD, San Diego, California
15 articles 1 photo 139 comments

Favorite Quote:
"People change so you can learn to let go, things go wrong so you can appreciate them when they go right, and things fall apart so better things can fall together."
-Marilyn Monroe

Heart of Glass is my favorite.

You've got good taste c:


on Jun. 28 2011 at 6:30 pm
Yes!!! you can't forget Blondie and The Cure either. Blondie had some awesome hits like "Call Me", "Heart Of Glass", and "Tide Is High". Anyone who dissagrees with this article should look them up and give it a try!!!! :)

on Jun. 25 2011 at 2:51 pm
shreyab101 BRONZE, Kent, Ohio
2 articles 0 photos 1 comment
"Rock fans are just bitter rock no longer rules the industry." Um, no. I am a huge rock fan, but I do not resent ALL modern music. Yes, I tend to listen to classic rock more, but just because I listen to "Hey Jude" doesn't mean I despise "E.T". I  like Katy Perry, I like Taylor Swift, I like Carrie Underwood, I like Shakira, I like Selena Gomez. Have I proved your statement wrong now?

on Jun. 22 2011 at 10:19 am
skoppy355 BRONZE, Arlington Heights, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life's like an hourglass glued to the table- from Breathe (2 am) by Anna Nalick

MissLoveaboo I'm sorry but you are extremely biased.  You can't, as TLB2011 said, generalize pop music based on Ke$ha (who actually has some meaningful songs if you listen to the ones that aren't on the radio) and Rebecca Black.  It's not fair to talented artists like Kelly Clarkson and Lady GaGa (yes people, she is talented) for people to automatically assume that they have no talent simply because their music falls under the same category based on technicalities.

on Jun. 22 2011 at 10:14 am
introducingshelby GOLD, San Diego, California
15 articles 1 photo 139 comments

Favorite Quote:
"People change so you can learn to let go, things go wrong so you can appreciate them when they go right, and things fall apart so better things can fall together."
-Marilyn Monroe

Don't forget Blondie and The Cure  c:


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