Music is Merely Poetry

June 24, 2008
By Elise Moser, Maryland Heights, MO

If I turn on the radio one more time and hear Hannah Montana blasting, I might just go insane. The thing about Hannah Montana (or Miley Cyrus if you prefer) is the fact that she can sing about all sorts of things that she really doesn’t understand. Take for instance her song “7 Things”, in which she describes the “7 things” she hates about her ex-boyfriend. First of all, when has Miley Cyrus had an ex-boyfriend? And what boy in the world would risk public humiliation by being a “jerk” to one of the biggest teen superstars in America? The real problem here is this: Miley didn’t write this song. It was written for her. As with most of the music popular today, the lyrics are carefully researched teen dramas that adults feel can be better expressed through a star that has probably never had a chance to experience the plight of teen-dom. These stars are the ones we, as teens, are letting represent us musically. Music is supposed to stand for something but when most of the music aimed at teens is written by adults, there is something wrong. In short, we must stand up against this manufactured pop and look past the Disney Channel and MTV to find quality music.

What is good music? Well, to some, it may seem like Miley Cyrus, but until you’ve been exposed to quality music, you will never truly understand why your Disney pop is so flawed. So take a moment and sit down at your computer and do some searching. Go to your favorite search engine and look up the lyrics to Miley Cyrus’ “7 Things”. Once found, read them aloud. Do not sing them, only read them. Music is first and foremost poetry, and if the words cannot be spoken, they most certainly don’t need to her sung. As you do this, you might discover that this song indeed sounds a little silly. For example, the line “It was awesome but we lost it” sounds odd. I found the phrase “If you text it, I’ll delete it” particularly humorous. Clearly, these lyrics are not good poetry, which means this song is not good music.

Once you’ve discovered that most of the music you listen to ISN’T good poetry, it’s time to find some that is. Your parents might be a good source of information here. Although it might be hard to believe, their musical knowledge is far greater than yours. So ask them: “What is good music?” When I asked my own father, he gave me a name: “Louis Armstrong” So that was what I searched.

Louis’s biggest hit is of course “What a Wonderful World”, and when read aloud, you can truly understand why it’s withstood the test of time. One line is particularly poetic: “I see skies of blue and clouds of white, the bright blessed day and dark sacred night and I think to myself: what a wonderful world.” Compared to Ms. Miley’s tune about her “awful boyfriend”, this sounds pretty good, doesn’t’ it?

It’s hard for me to listen to some of the music teens today enjoy, but I know that with a little research, we can once again discover good music. And although today I see the Billboard Top 10 Songs list littered with songs like “I Kissed a Girl” (a disgusting, ignorant, and homophobic contribution to today’s society) and “Take A Bow” (a song filled with horrible grammar that paint a picture that I just don’t want to look at), I feel a little comfort when I see Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” securing that #1 spot. This true piece of poetry has a line that seems universal to all people and is lovely, spoken or sung. Consider this when you’re listening to Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, or the Jonas Brothers:

“One minute I held the key, next the walls were closed on me and I discovered that my castles stand upon pillars of salt, pillars of sand.”

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This article has 1 comment.

on Aug. 15 2008 at 2:16 pm
You raise a point and look into a man named Warren Zevon especially Hasten Down the Wind or Hostage-O, but how do you account for purely instrumental pieces such as Neil Pert's YYZ or the great composers also it's not merely poetics but rhythm and the way the words flow to the music where the best possess all these qualities we can't all be brilliant can we?

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