WHAT'S HAPPENING TO MUSIC?

Is it just me or is the landscape of music changing faster than ever before? Maybe I’m just getting older, but it seems to me that what’s considered popular is changing day-by-day, even hour-by-hour. I blink my eyes and there’s a new superstar who rose to fame overnight, and I’m not quite sure how to feel about it.

I was born in the early 90s. It doesn’t seem like that long ago but when I look at how much music has changed since then, it feels like a lifetime. And I’m not just talking about going from cassette players and record players to CD players and iPods. I’m talking about the actual music. I remember listening to real lyrics, words, and vocals. I remember when songs had instruments and progression and told a story. I remember listening to skilled and talented artists like 2pac and Notorious B.IG., Eminem and Ludacris, Snoop Dog and Jay Z, Missy Elliot and Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson and Prince, Madonna, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, Outkast and The Black Eyed Peas, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, The All-American Rejects, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Sublime, and so many more!

 Michael Jackson performs in concert circa 1986. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

 Michael Jackson performs in concert circa 1986. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

While there are STILL so many good artists with amazing talent flourishing today (John Legend, Adele, Halsey, Ed Sheeran, Hozier, Lana Del Rey, Sam Smith, Arianna Grande, J.Cole, etc.), I find that society is gaining momentum in making more and more of the talentless and undeserving popular: the overnight celebrities who fall into the limelight by making one semi-catchy hit. I’m talking about the “artists” who can’t even write a good sentence, let alone their own music. And just to be clear, I find nothing wrong with artists using ghostwriters or co-writers. I believe that some are much better at writing the music while others are better at delivering it. Not everyone can do both, although those who can earn more points in my book. BUT, if you’re not writing the music, you should AT LEAST have the talent to deliver it. Instead, now I’m hearing songs where artists can’t even do THAT much: songs where you can’t understand a single word that’s being said, where excessive auto-tuning and other overdone vocal alterations make singers sound like robots and not people, where rappers yell the same three words over a poorly produced beat for a few minutes and it’s a hit.

I’d like to take a moment to point out that I’m fully aware that what’s considered popular in music has and will always evolve with the generations; change is inevitable with time. I’m also aware that older generations typically don’t agree with what younger generations consider good music. But when I was a kid, my generation was at least exposed to and able to appreciate the music of previous generations, while simultaneously enjoying the music of our own time as well. I point this out because it seems like today’s generation knows very little if not nothing about the great timeless music of the past. They don’t appreciate who The Beatles were, or understand why Michael Jackson was THE MAN. It’s like the foundation of what good music was built on is losing its place, and it’s a shame.

What’s happening at an even faster rate than the stray away from good lyrics, delivery, and vocals, is the abandonment of real instrumentals. As technology progresses, instruments are being replaced with digital sounds generated by computer software and equipment; and with the recent explosion of electronic music as a popular genre, the sound of today’s music is rapidly transforming. While I DO respect and appreciate it as a new form of art and music, there are quite a few things about it that bug me.

So it is now 2016 and we have what I like to call the "I'm a DJ Era”. With House music more popular than ever now, there’s a large niche for DJs, and it seems like everyone wants to be one. But DJing isn’t what it used to be. Instead of spinning vinyl, a lot of today’s DJs use computers and new high tech boards rigged with all sorts of sliders, knobs, buttons, and other bells and whistles. Now before some of you House music lovers get into defense mode, let me clear something up; I too am a fan of this music. I have the utmost respect for what these DJs do, and even more so for the DJs who can produce. But regardless of the producing factor, it's the DJ's responsibility to keep people entertained and ensure that an entire venue of guests have a good time. That’s a lot of pressure and I believe it takes not only courage but talent to master the equipment, pick great music, transition from song to song seamlessly, and adjust to the crowd’s energy accordingly. Who I DON’T have respect for are the DJs who are FAMOUS SOLELY for playing or ever so slightly remixing SOMEONE ELSE’S MUSIC, but can’t put their own song together if someone’s life was on the line; the DJs who press a few buttons for a set that’s hours long and act like it was insanely hard work; the DJs who take credit for constantly piggybacking off of others. And with the way things are today, it’s easier to be a fake now more than ever. It's tough to pretend to have a good voice or play an instrument on stage, but insanely easy to press some buttons and make it look like you’re doing something special. The saddest part is that today’s generation is eating it up!

So we have rappers that are famous for yelling on tracks and mumbling incomprehensible nonsense to a catchy tune, famous DJs who press a start button on someone else’s music, and famous singers who can’t even sing. What’s going on here?! You know who’d be rolling in their graves right now?! The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Janice Joplin, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, and Frank Sinatra, to name a few! I understand music is one of those things that will be ever-changing with the times, but actual talent should always be a factor in who we allow to become successful/famous, and we as fans should hold the people who make money off of us to a certain set of standards.

It’s a new year here, so let’s make a resolution to stop making so many talentless people famous and focus on the artists who actually pour their hearts and souls into the art form. The ones who put blood, sweat, and tears into composing beautiful music; the ones who won’t put anything less than dopeness into the Universe; the ones who really deserve it. And listen, I’m not going to sit here and act like I don’t listen to some of the stuff I’ve been talking about, because I do. I’ll bump the mediocre ratchet nonsense in my car with my windows down sometimes because well, hey, it IS catchy and fun to jam to. NONETHELESS, I still recognize the difference between that music and the real music. I appreciate the good music, support the good music, and BUY the good music. So I just want to encourage all of you to do the same and at the very least, have some sort of balance and mix some authentic music in with the ratchetness. Let’s appreciate the good stuff before it starts to completely fade away. Let’s stop overpraising garbage or before we know it, hitting two spoons together will be the next hit song! Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic here, but I felt like it had to be said. Just don’t let the crap desensitize your ears to the good stuff!

-MG

 

P.S.

For your enjoyment, here are some hilarious parody videos I stumbled upon that perfectly depict my points.