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Today’s music is terrible

| Monday, April 1, 2019

Music is terrible nowadays. The music industry has been saturated with artists who pander to the masses with stupid “songs” with little-to-no substance. I miss the days when most artists could play an instrument, write and compose their own songs and sing it.

I don’t want to be misunderstood. I enjoy some of today’s music, including some of the stupid “songs” I just talked about. As a Zahm House resident, we have a biweekly tradition of getting together to appreciate the female pop genre by singing and dancing along to artists like Ariana Grande, Shakira and even Taylor Swift. However, these songs should be enjoyed with the realization that they are lacking in substance.

My issue with today’s music is that people genuinely think this music is artistic genius, and they idolize these personas that have been crafted for the public. It’s not artistic genius, it’s marketing genius.

It’s fine to sing about men who treat you terribly such as T-Swift does — in “I Knew You Were Trouble,” “Dear John” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” — but at a certain point, you have to wonder if the girl is the one at fault for her terrible taste. Or, even worse, Tay-Tay is the root cause of all of this, so she can continue churning out hits about terrible men to rally her fans around her. Not to mention she has terrible pitch, and her “country” voice (which to her credit even she lampooned in her “Look What You Made Me Do” music video) is as fabricated as they come.

It’s fine to sing about female empowerment as Ariana Grande does — in “Dangerous Woman,” “God is a Woman” and “No Tears Left to Cry” — but acting like a bad b—- who betrays another girl and offers her body as incentive (see “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored”) sends a conflicting message, doesn’t it? To Grande’s credit, however, she actually has singing talent, but I think she’s wasting it.

And don’t even get me started on today’s versions of “country” and hip-hop. Today’s “country,” or “stadium country” as some call it (see Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Rascal Flatts), only helps feed into the stereotypes people have of southern culture, with the constant rotation of tropes such as cold beer, pickup trucks and blue jeans and the incessant nostalgic reflection on what was and could have been.

But don’t get me wrong, there are a few great lyricists today — especially in hip-hop, such as Kendrick Lamar (you don’t win a Pulitzer Prize in music for nothing), Eminem and Logic. But, mumble rap — including such songs as “Gucci Gang,” “Bad and Boujee” and “Mask Off” — is an affront to what rap used to be: an honest articulation of racially-charged experience and class struggle.

Again, I actually enjoy some songs in these categories, but I enjoy them because I recognize how terrible they are, whether it’s because of the fact that they are hollow of any meaning or just repetitive and catchy. But I don’t idolize these people who have a marketing team crafting their identities in the ideal way to hypnotize the masses.

I miss artistic royalty like Prince and Queen (pun intended), and I long for the days when Huey Lewis was correct in saying, “The heart of rock and roll is still beating.” However, times have changed for music, and I couldn’t just sit by and “Let it Be,” as The Beatles said. So please, for your own sake, listen to some of the oldies and gain a little perspective as to what has happened to music. Then maybe, just maybe, we can keep Taylor Swift out of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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