It has come to my attention that this generation of mine has no conception of what good music is. Yes, MY generation. The Millenials. The Lost Generation. The Generation That We Fucked Up. Generation Y. As a whole, we do not understand what makes good music. I can’t blame them. In an age of auto-tune, shallow lyrics, and the propagation of “pussy, money, weed”, it’s not hard to understand why people do not know musical artistry. “Good music” varies from person to person but one main identifier is talent.
People can identify musical artistry. People can identify that Jimi Hendrix was a good guitar player. But do they KNOW why he was a good guitar player? Can they even begin to fathom the depths of what he did? This is where the disconnect between artistry and appearance. Many musicians today are concerned with appearance. People dress in flashy clothes with flashy stage acts with lip synching and backup dancers in tow. They are concerned with how the music video looks. They are concerned about the critics. There is just so much of a veneer in popular music, it makes me want to crawl up in a ball in a corner of my room and cry. And for some people, that’s all they listen to. Popular music.. How does Jennifer Lopez have more views on a music video than some other talented artist? Simply because of the appearance. Jennifer Lopez isn’t even a musician. Infact, I don’t really know what to call her. Publicity whore, maybe.
At Thanksgiving last year, I was playing a song off the computer by a band called The Dead Weather. My cousin came over and said:
“hey man, what’s this?”
“It’s a band called the Dead Weather.”
“oh. This ain’t really music, though.”
“You think so?”
“Yeah man, put on some Taio Cruz, some Trey Songz, or some Waka Flocka Flame.”
I wanted to slap him upside the head. Bombs dropping over a nondescript country in the desert make better music than those guys.
Programs such as American Idol and Americas’ Got Talent only further the degradation of popular music. These programs are shifting music from a primarily aural phenomenon to that of a visual phenomenon. So, why exactly is popular music so bad
I’ll tell you why.It simply lacks grit. It lacks soul. Heart. Aural stimulation. Pre-packaged, predictable, bubblegum pop in an easily digestible and non-introspective format. Soul and heart aren’t something you can fake and when you do, it’s quite obvious. However, there are vanguards of good music. Good lyrics. Good song composition.
I am so grateful that there are artists such as Adele, with her combination of deep soulful vocals reminiscent of soul singers gone by. I am thankful for prog-rock kings Tool with their uncompromising and progressive brand of aggressive-melodic art rock. I am thankful for the legendary electronic duo Massive Attack with their use of dark, creeping beats to create an inescapable and claustrophobic soundscape to be lost in for hours. I am thankful for artists such as The Civil Wars and how they are able to deliver strong songs with only a guitar and two voices and still make a stronger statement than a person who has a full-band behind them. There are many other artists in multiple genres that create good music: one genre does not have a monopoly on good music. Again, good music is artistry, lyrics, and feeling.
Universally, music is food for the soul. When I listen to music, I feel it right *here*. When its honest, I feel it right *there*. I like listening to music and dissecting it into music theory. It starts to give me a deeper understanding of the song and its meaning when I look at the chords and what colors they sound like. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t listen to some form of music. Headphones, car stereo, record player, whatever. There is not a day that goes by that I do not write music or play a musical instrument.
At the end of the day, that’s all that matters – music. Not how many girls you can fuck in a month, not how much money is in your bank account, not how you’re looking for love in this club or how you have “moves like jagger”. If we as a species wish to attain a higher view of life, we need music that challenges us and takes us to higher heights. If that’s not so, we’ll have to settle for the same old bullshit and we’ll never know just h0w far we could have climbed.
I’ll say it again. At the end of the day, nothing else matters. Everything we do is a conduit for creativity. When I go about my daily routine, I encounter people I like and people I don’t like. Life experiences make me see art in new ways. I take care of myself so that I can continue to create art. I don’t do it because it”s somehow required. All of these things lead back to me creating the best art I can. All things lead to one road – art & music.
After all, that’s all I have left.