Keeping Music Real

October 26, 2007
Keeping Music Real
Abby Holtzman

Music is a powerful thing. It brings with it ideas, feelings, and the power to bring people to together. Music is also a way for people to express themselves, and share ideas, whether through poetic lyrics, or throbbing anthems. It has been around since people, and therefore, it is essential. But should music be adjusted so that it is enjoyed by more people, and is therefore more profitable for large companies, or should music exist for more than money and image? Today, artists are not known for their music, but rather for how extravagant their outfits are, and how many times their wealthy relatives can get them out of jail. The music is lost.

Pop and rap music has evolved into a shallow and image-obsessed industry that conforms to what the people want to hear and see, eliminating individuality and the focus on the actual music. Mainstream music is no longer made of emotion, but of themes such as money, sex, and fame. Pop and rap performers are notorious because of their latest run-in with the police, their latest diet, and their most recent affair. Photos and rumors fly while the music is ignored.
Not all musical groups or soloists start out like this. There are plenty of fantastic pop and rap artists who are original and talented. Then again, groups like these often feel the stress of being underappreciated, and turn to the big money side for support. Often, their songs are written by experts, who know what is appealing to a specific age group, and then puts the musicians’ faces on as many magazine covers as possible. Soon, their supposedly new and improved songs can be heard blasting out of car windows and restaurants. But, in a way, these songs are empty shells, devoid of creativity and the original thirst of the artist to make an impact, and convey a message.

Countless pop and rap songs that are heard today fit into a very slim mold – not just for the music, but for whoever performs it. Some female musicians, such as Katherine McPhee, Christina Aguilera, Lindsey Lohan, struggled with eating disorders, because of the increased attention of the public to their image, and what they wear, as opposed to the musical aspect of their career. The vast majority of popular songs follow the same mold – singable, with a catchy beat … and a flashy band.

A lot of of these songs teach listeners that what’s on the outside is extremely important, and money matters. These messages are largely portrayed through music videos and lyrics. The videos usually contain a lot of sexual themes, as well as people wearing “grillz” and various other decorations that are supposed to show their wealth. Many rap music videos have an image of being “gangsta,” which encourages people to, essentially: act tough, embrace violence, and swear frequently. These videos sometimes encourage 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 of the public is interested in either sickly sweet, generic pop or stereotypical, beeped out rap. Kids and teens all over are swimming in these songs, which are often degrading to women and other minorities, and inappropriate.
This past summer, at the camp that I go to, almost all the girls in my bunk were obsessed with the same songs, as had been the case the year before, and the year before that. These songs, including Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend,” were blasted in the bunk at all times off various campers’ ipods. Whenever I tried to play some music that I enjoyed, or even try to introduce them to some, (in my view), decent songs, they would just say that everybody except for me liked the music that they were playing. They had got me there. It’s difficult being partial to music that you can’t share or talk about with others, so I can definitely understand why some people turn to pop.

None of this is to say that all pop and rap music today is conformist. Rap artists, such as Sublime and Jurassic 5, produced rap without all the extras – just great rhythm and pulsing lyrics. There is also a lot of high-quality pop music. Although talented musicians exist and thrive, the entire music industry has evolved into something almost unrecognizable. Music is no longer for pleasure, but a huge part of the economy. It is valued for its power to influence people everywhere. Not only does the music business make money off songs, but plenty of useless products are purchased with rap and pop stars’ faces on them. Numerous products are also sold because a celebrity advertised it on television. Also, some actors, such as Hilary Duff, have only gone into the music business because they were already well known for their acting skills. Obviously, this does not make for high quality music.
Why does most of the teenage population listen to pop and rap music, when there are so many other genres out there? Maybe it’s the fact that everywhere we look, we are bombarded with these stars’ music: on the radio, on television, on the computer. At school, pop and rap is discussed religiously. Perhaps nobody has ever listened to anything else. Or possibly, peer pressure is a part of it. Another reason that some people might listen to popular music is because it is always easy listening, with no abnormalities...anything unique is considered weird.
There is no solution to the “pop problem.” It’s called popular for a reason – being that many people enjoy the same type of music. 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 people’s views.
Despite that, many artists are being ruined because of the increase in stress on money and image. My suggestion is merely not to buy into music like this when you could be exploring something new. Expand your horizons. Dig up your parents’ old records and cds. You never know what you might find.

Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

Site Feedback