Keeping Music Real | TeenInk

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 291 comments.

Alibear BRONZE said...
on Dec. 22 2010 at 1:17 pm
Alibear BRONZE, Oakville, Other
3 articles 0 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
You don't have to suffer to be a poet. Adolescence is enough suffering for anyone.

wow this is amazing... u should continue to write. :)

on Dec. 6 2010 at 8:42 pm
squalur996 GOLD, Henderson, Nevada
10 articles 3 photos 43 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If death meant just leaving the stage long enough to change costume and come back as a new character....would you slow down? Or speed up?
-- Chuck Palanick

excellent article !!!! Music is just too amazing to become so media engrossed.

on Dec. 6 2010 at 7:59 pm
Mayzie2010 BRONZE, East Syracuse, New York
1 article 0 photos 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Don't tell me "the sky is the limit" when their are footprints and a flag and the moon"

I completely agree! I mean, i've been singing for 5-10 years now. So music is really close to me. now music has been revamped an edited which makes it lose its purpose. Beautiful article though! keep writing!


on Oct. 23 2010 at 10:19 pm
DaydreamBeliever GOLD, Lockport, Other
15 articles 4 photos 140 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you live to be one hundred, I want to live to be one hundred minus one day, so that I'll never have to live without you. -Winnie the Pooh

I agree 100%. One of my favourite things to do is go through my dad's old CDs and listen to them. 

cityskyline said...
on Oct. 23 2010 at 10:22 am
cityskyline, Lawrenceburg, Indiana
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
Man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word "darkness" on the walls of his cell. -C.S. Lewis

I cannot put into words how so incredibly right you are. Today, the music industry is just sick. They can match a pretty face to an auto-tuned concoction of 'baby, baby, baby, ooooohh i love you sooo baby i love you', and they'll make millions. Sick.

on Oct. 16 2010 at 2:34 pm
IamtheshyStargirl PLATINUM, Lothlorien, Utah
44 articles 16 photos 2216 comments

Favorite Quote:
Boredom instigates extreme creativity.

"Bowing gratefully to all of my subjects, 'thank you. Thank you. The pleasure is mine." Nah, I'm just kidding. We're all kings together.'"

 I listen to my dad's old ipod, so there's pretty much no "recent" or "popular" music on it.

I've found that it's a great way to get introduced to new music.

Kyle XY said...
on Oct. 15 2010 at 2:27 pm
So true. music has lost its touch nowadays. it's all about voice-over and synthicizing now, which shows that music has lost its art.

on Oct. 1 2010 at 4:10 pm
Luminescence BRONZE, New Shoreham, Rhode Island
4 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Writer's block: n. When characters get tired of everything you put them through and go on strike."

Hey, this is really true today. Going to softball games with my teammates last year, some of the songs they played in the car made me want to claw at my ears. I listen to a lot of music, including pop, country, electronica, rock, gothic rock, alternative, indie, classical, but some songs I absolutely hate. So shallow and meaningless, and every day we watch them being drilled into kids' heads almost from birth. I've seen fifth graders listening to rap; that's just sad.

kay.marie said...
on Sep. 9 2010 at 4:31 pm
kay.marie, Towaoc, Colorado
0 articles 0 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
*"Keep your head up and reach for the stars don't let no one get you down, you know who you are."-Mr.Capone-E*

*The obstacles we face in life aren't what make hard, it's how you choose to look at and deal with them.*

I love this article. You've addressed a major problem in the music industry. Personally, I would be classified as a goth kid but i listen to almost every type of music there is. From country to rap; techno to screamo. Everything appeals to me as long as the rythyms fun and i can relate to they lyrics. As long as i can FEEL the music. It's all about variety. Today pop and rap seem to be repeating and repeating the same old message, turning teens into mindless zombies. If people would just add a little variety, a little spice to their music some things would be a lot better. Nice article!

Emphy SILVER said...
on Aug. 19 2010 at 9:08 am
Emphy SILVER, Dublin, Ohio
7 articles 1 photo 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land amongst stars." ~Brian Littrell
"You laugh at me because I'm different, I laugh at you because you're all the same."~ Jonathan Davis

Exactly XDDDDD

on Aug. 18 2010 at 10:12 pm
tippytoetapper BRONZE, Oakton, Virginia
1 article 0 photos 12 comments
In a way I agree with you. People who will only listen to popular music because it is popular and refuse to even hear other music have no basis for their preference. But some of the appeal of the music is the artist itself. I know I listen to Lady Gaga partially because I enjoy her music, but also because she is simply fabulous :). I totally see where you're coming from, but a distinction must be made- are you listening to the music to hear good music, or to have fun? Oftentimes if you just want to shake your butt and have a good time, the music doesn't need to be high quality. But if you really enjoy music with a large degree of talent and skill behind it, and prefer not to dance and like to listen more closely to the music, by all means, listen solely to whatever kind of music floats your boat.

on Aug. 18 2010 at 7:05 pm
MairGwyn PLATINUM, Sterling, Virginia
23 articles 14 photos 35 comments
like Eminem Xp

on Aug. 18 2010 at 4:18 pm
lilyxfiore GOLD, Smithville, Ohio
11 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
The greatest truth in life is that those you love, cherish or simply trust the most are irrevocably destined to break you the most.

Finally! Someone who addresses the giant pink elephant towering over music today! This is very good, and I love how you adressed the two types of music suffering the most. All I can say is I'm glad my country gals and guys aren't in the same boat...yet.

Memalion said...
on Aug. 18 2010 at 9:42 am
Memalion, Minneapolis, Minnesota
0 articles 10 photos 41 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Self-control is knowing that you can, but deciding that you won't."

I completely agree with everything you said. Although some pop music is okay, most of the lyrics just repeat themselves and don't say anything. they're so empty. I don't listen to much popular music, I stick to the songs teens don't know about.

on Jul. 27 2010 at 8:23 pm
♥♫music4ever25♥♫, Phoenix, Arizona
0 articles 0 photos 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
shoot for the moon, even if you miss you'll land among the stars! :)

its true! and a more aweful part of it is that her music is so inaporptiate for so many ages! it comes on the radio all the time and my 6 yr old sister can hear it anywhere! (sorry for my spelling)

on Jul. 27 2010 at 8:07 pm
I agree with you whole heartedly. My friends always think my music is weird or strange. And when I try to introduce them new stuff they don't want to hear it. So I just stopped trying a while ago. Nice article. I'd love it if you guys would check out my work :)

L.T.A SILVER said...
on Jul. 27 2010 at 12:08 pm
L.T.A SILVER, Hammond, Indiana
7 articles 1 photo 75 comments

Favorite Quote:
All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it.-- Samuel Butler

i agree but don't think that means we should just write off all pop and rap songs as being bad.

on Jul. 27 2010 at 9:33 am
xAllegria BRONZE, Singapore, Other
1 article 2 photos 112 comments

Favorite Quote:
Ça fait tellement du bien d’aimer les gens qu’on aime, que ça finit par faire mal. Je sais pas comment on survit a ça. Non franchement, je sais pas. LOL (laughing out loud) ®, Lola.

I think the whole "money is good, so is looking anorexic, so is raping every girl you find in the bar" started out as a sort of rebellion since up till now ideal messages show the opposite of this. But it's gone too far and the artists themselves don't know what they mean. It's better when they write their own songs- Avril was less popular when she did, maybe, but 'Girlfriend' definitely ruined a part of her reputation. Well, okay, I'm ranting, but basically I've found an article on this crazy website which I actually COMPLETELY AGREE WITH. Congratulations.

legend said...
on Jul. 27 2010 at 8:00 am

I'm a Chinese high school student.I'm glad to read this article and I agree.I don't like most of the pop songs either,except for the ones which were popular in 1990s. In my point of view,most of the tunes we can listen to just resemble each other so well that we can hardly distinguish them...In China,this is called "shan zhai(山寨)which refers to things that are copied from others' without any technic.I don't quite sure whether it's true in your countries but in China,plenty of "musicians" are just making money instead of making music.As you have mentioned,songs with popular tunes and "well-written" lyrics are welcomed,but where do emotions lie?Where are chords?I just wonder whether they are able to write songs sometimes...The pop singers should be responsible for the music lovers who listen to their songs.

Well,all in all,don't be too negative...There is a sentence saying that" market is unprompted".No way now,but maybe ways will appear.

on Jul. 5 2010 at 11:33 pm
RavenBird SILVER, Battle Ground, Washington
7 articles 3 photos 36 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same" ~The Fray "All at once"
"I am who I am and who i wanna be" ~Avril Lavigne

I know! i actually wanted to write about this earlier but i didnt know how to  word it, to put my thoughts out. My best friend listens to all that soulless stuff, and.... i just can't anymore. It doesn't move me the way real music does. I'm not completely torn from popular music, because it's not all bad, but it makes me sad to see what some previously amazing bands have turned to. remember when the Black Eyed Peas used to be good? Well...