Superficial Music For A Superficial Society

“It is often said the music that is popular in a given culture helps define the current society.” Looking back in history, this statement rings true. Each decade of popular music has shadowed trends and events in corresponding history… but what about our current music culture? If someone were to describe our current society based on popular music, the images would be terrifying.

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Partying. Sex. Drugs. Alcohol. Heartbreak. These five concepts, tied in with bad language and racial slurs, make up the majority of all popular music today. It doesn’t matter if a song is original, creative, thought provoking, or meaningful. As long as it has a catchy beat and contains lyrics surrounding one of these five concepts, it’s sure to be a hit. So what are these popular songs teaching to our youth culture? To lack creativity? That drinking and getting high in little to no clothing is an acceptable weekend activity? That all love is hopeless? Whatever messages these popular songs are looking to spread, it’s working.

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Kids are growing up without censorship. When I was a kid, if an album had one song that contained profanity, the entire album would be offered in a “censored” version. And guess what? Our parents would buy us that censored album to prevent us from hearing that one bad word. In our current day in age, these censored albums may still exist; however, it really doesn’t make a difference. Why? Because of the Internet. Edited songs may be played on the radio, but when kids go home and search their favorite hits on YouTube, “edited” versions don’t exist. Every time kids go on mobile devices, computers, or turn on a television, they’re exposed to the reality of society. They see scandalous music videos, close to naked artists at award shows, drugged out celebrities in and out of jail, “role models” taking a turn for the worse… you get the point. No matter how hard parents try to shield their kids from these images, they truly can never succeed. Our society has become such an open one, with such little censorship, that kids really do see it all.

 

This lack of censorship has ultimately caused kids to grow up way quicker than they should. When I was a kid, I watched the Disney Channel, listened to boy bands, and spent the majority of my free time hanging outside with friends or making up games. Kids of our generation have become so obsessed with technology, social media, and superficial things, that they’re missing out on the true beauty of being a child. Sure, social media and smartphones are beneficial. Sure, they’re addicting and entertaining. But we appreciate these things as ADULTS. We still enjoyed our traditional childhood. We drew on the driveway with chalk, had lemonade stands, rode bikes, and played with dolls. We had favorite artists that we looked up to, and we waited patiently for them to release new albums so we could rush to the store and buy them. That reality seems nonexistent now, as all kids are glued to their mobile devices, watching promiscuous music videos or browsing pictures of popular stars in trashy outfits while listening to explicit chart toppers. Is this the representation of the world that we want our kids to see?

In order to have a positive influence on our youth generation, music needs to be stripped from its superficial backbone. Despite what some people might think, good music still exists. It’s just hard to recognize without the disreputable images preceding it. If society weren’t so obsessed with sex appeal or the “bizarre factor,” then genuine, creative, inspiring music would be able to shine through. I truly believe this, because I am one of the few who still listens to and believes in this good music.

 

It’s crazy to me that most of my favorite artists lack recognition, when they’re all a million times more reputable and talented than the pop sensations topping the charts. Once in a while, one of these talented artists will make their way onto the radio, or perhaps a top 10 list on iTunes. It’s at this point that kids will listen to and appreciate their music. It’s almost as if our current generation needs the rest of society to verify that something is good and acceptable before they can indulge themselves in it. This is extremely sad to me, because young people are missing out on such a unique, diverse, and creative group of musicians. These artists resemble Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, and U2. They sing about things that matter. They don’t care if their songs become hits or not, because at the end of the day, they’re sharing a message that they feel is important. If kids in our society could stay true to themselves just like these undiscovered artists, then we would live in a much more respectable society.

By: Catherine

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Music as an Experience

How we listen to music has evolved over the years due to advancements in technology. The size of music players have decreased in size and increased in sound quality. What is coming next? We have already begun to integrate wireless music systems into our homes and cars. Music players are dissappearing into thin air and will continue to become more convenient to those who can afford the newest luxuries.

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The rapidly evolving online market space is influencing the way artists and recording companies market, distribute, and sell their music. In order to stay relevant, the business model is going to keep changing at a rapid rate along with the new technologies in order to provide consumers with an overall experience. Concerts are the ultimate experience of listing to music since it is live, but it is also the most expensive. The online music market now allows for the average consumer to stream concerts live online. The industry is no longer selling a physical disc, but rather a service. They are selling an experience. In order for a business model to succeed, the industry needs to find some “pull” and tend to customers needs. By pull I am highlighting the importance of paying attention to what customers value and draw them in versus pushing or forcing the direction in which the model “should” move. It is important to see what is popular but even more importantly, what is missing and could improve the current model. As technology advances, expectations of consumers increase. Companies are trying to stay relevant and meet these expectations by moving their marketing landscape online.

World Music a-1

Thanks to the many advancements in music technology and the world wide web, music can be used as a medium that can be shared among all cultures. In saying that, I mean that music from one culture can be appreciated and enjoyed from people from another culture. In my opinion, music could be used to bring everyone together.  As American social hegemony declines, American music won’t be as dominant throughout the world as it has been. This will allow opportunities for the music of other cultures to open up. Also, emerging markets are helping to recover the music industry’s sales.  Brazil, India and Mexico have seen market growth respectively of 24%, 42% and 17% since 2008. In 2012 revenues in India reached an all-time high while Latin America was the fastest growing region of the year. Globalization will have a positive effect on the music we have available to us and widen our variety in genres.

by: Melissa

Where Do We Go From Here?

It is undeniable that popular musicians affect the youth of our culture.  Musicians in our culture are put on a pedestal, with nearly every aspect of their life in the spotlight.  We don’t just see them performing, we see them leaving their houses, we see them getting arrested, we even know when they are feeling under the weather.  So how do you think this “sex sells” trend is affecting our youth?  As aforementioned, children and teenagers look up to these artists.  When they see their role model up on stage in underwear or see-through dresses, what do you think they want to do?

Children are very malleable, they can mold easily to their surroundings. So when they are constantly surrounded by promiscuity and nudity, they are going to be inspired to behave similarly.  Children are growing up faster now than ever because of the world they live in.  When I was growing up, I played with Barbie dolls and footballs and listened to Leann Rimes.  I had a great and very innocent childhood.  Things are so different now.  Children are playing with iPads and watching YouTube videos of these musicians wearing little to literally nothing.  When I was growing up, “tweens” referred to children aged 10-12.  Nowadays, children are seen as a massive and very valuable consumer market.  “Tweens” now refers to kids as young as 6 years old.  Our culture is encouraging youth to grow up quicker than ever, and the results of this can be seen through the young artists of today that are very mature for their age and aren’t afraid to show it.  As a culture, we are teaching young girls to take it all off for attention, and teaching young boys to expect this from girls.  Sounds like a dangerous combination if you ask me.

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So where do we go from here?  How do we un-do what we’ve done to the minds of our youth?  Artists like Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears have gained such a following from their promiscuous behavior that I don’t see those artists going anywhere, but maybe we don’t need them to.  I believe it would be extremely beneficial to focus our efforts on supporting artists that can be positive role models for our youth.  Artists like Adele, Sara Bareilles, Jennifer Hudson, and Alicia Keys.  Why aren’t these musicians performing on awards shows so we can talk about them for weeks rather than Miley’s foam finger?  Why is Miley worth $150 million and Sara Bareilles worth $12 million?  You’d be lying if you said you didn’t think it had anything to do with attention given because of nudity and performances booked because of this attention.  Who says we can’t get back to the classy days of The Supremes? We all need to work together to make sure that more positive role models have their voices heard, otherwise, our kids will never be kids.  After all, who would you rather have yours look up to?

By: Emily