“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.
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.
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.