Hello UG! I have not published an article in a while, but I have got a bit of time on my hands, so I think I'll get back into a bit. Now, for anyone who has read any of my articles on this site, you will know I have written lessons almost exclusively; which is why this article might be a bit awkward, as it is more of an editorial. You still might learn something, just nothing about guitar fret boards and scales. The reason I am coming out of a long hibernation from writing is to deal with something I've been hearing a lot.
Todays music sucks!
Why is there no more good music out there?
This guy sucks, and anyone who listens to this guy sucks as well!
Yes, like we seem to do too often, we are bashing the newest trend, and pumping nostalgic memories of what was through our heads. I myself am guilty of such acts in my past, which may be why I feel the urge to write this; as an attempt to redeem my past ignorance. So, I am now going to take on what some people would consider to be the unpopular side of this debate, and I expect some disagreements to arise as a result of this article. But here is my opinion, my defense of today's music; take it for what it is.
The first quick thing I'd like to get out of the way are people who I believe falsely proclaim that there is no good music at all today. In my opinion, this is absolute nonsense; this statement simply paints over every single artist who is doing what they do at this moment with one brush. There are people who seem to be under the impression that one hundred percent of today's music is just Justin Bieber's, Katy Perry's, and Lady Gaga's. Just because you do not take the time to look outside of this realm of music does not mean you can label all music today as being bad. If you only look at the Justin Bieber's, Katy Perry's, and Lady Gaga's, that is all you are going to find in today's music. But I assure you, there are many flavors of music available out there today; more than there were in what these people would reflect upon as the golden age of music. Just because the trend is only one or two styles of music does not mean that all other music has gone extinct; it simply takes a little bit of work to find, and will not be brought to you on a silver platter.
However, I think it is even more important to focus on the aforementioned mainstream music, those Justin Bieber's, Katy Perry's, and Lady Gaga's. Now, I cannot say I have any of these artists in my iTunes library, because I do not listen to their music. But at the same time, I realize I do not possess the authority to deter others from listening to their music. For one to state something like LMFAO does not make music (I am using LMFAO as a general example, this can be said for any mainstream music artist) as fact is just doing so, I believe, to simply put that music on a lower level than what they consider music. Let's look, for a second, at what defines music as such. My working definition is that music consists of melodies, harmonies, and rhythms, and is used as an expression of something; an emotion, an idea, anything that can be expressed in words or melody. Now, from what I've heard, LMFAO has melodies and rhythms, even if those melodies are on digital synthesizers instead of guitars, and drum machines instead of drum kits. And their music does express something; even if you cannot find significant and deep meaning in it does not mean that the next guy cannot find meaning in Party Rock Anthem. Another important characteristic in music, I believe, is that it evokes something, and I use something in its broadest sense, as many different things can arise in many different kinds of music. If Jim or Sue listens to Party Rock Anthem, and it makes them get up and dance, then that song evoked something from them, some sense of joy and happiness. Even in a slightly ironic sense, when these dismissers of mainstream music hear Party Rock Anthem, and it makes them genuinely angry at the state of today's music, that song has evoked something from that person, although it is the complete opposite of what Jim or Sue are experiencing. Therefore, whether or not this dismisser wants to admit it, he or she is experiencing music, just in a form that is not blues, jazz, rock, or metal.
On the idea that yesterday's music was light-years better than today's is, some things must be considered. How this thought process usually works is simple: a person looks at all the artists from yesterday that they like, and all the artists from today that they hate. They then say that the artists from yesterday that they like were the only artists that existed then, and the artists they hate from today are the only artists that exist now, thus giving them the plausible conclusion that yesterday's music was better than today's is, because all of the artists from then they like, and all of the current artists, they hate. Now, I hate to ruin this fantasy, but back in the 80's and 90's, there was electro-pop and the like that is popular today, and today, there is still blues, jazz, funk, soul, and whatever else you remember from yesterday. The only thing that changed from yesterday to today is what was popular at the time; there was not a complete metamorphosis in the existence of music.
Furthermore, we need to recognize that the idea of yesterday's music being better than today's has been present throughout history. I remember this idea really hitting me when reading Hesse's novel Steppenwolf; the character of Harry Haller hears this mainstream phenomenon of jazz music, and notes how it is not real music, and is nothing compared to likes of Mozart, Hydon, and Bach. At the same time, when this strange mainstream phenomenon known as rock and roll came to the scene, those jazz enthusiasts who were belittled by the classical elitists now had the opportunity to condemn this rock as an impure excuse for music. Now it seems we have come full circle again; now those rockers who were criticized by the jazzers see the mainstream pop music, and send it to the gallows as perpetrators of real music; real music that was, just decades before, considered to be garbage. People need to realize that this is a cycle; I would not be surprised if, by the later portion of my life, the electronic pop elitists, the fighters of what is now, in this futuristic time period, considered real music, condemn the next class of mainstream music to be fake, fraudulent, and impure. Much like you, the dismisser, neglects mainstream pop music as real music, the jazz musician was a dismisser of your music, and Harry Haller a dismisser of the jazz musician's music. In actuality, at one point or another, all the music we listen to has sucked to someone.
I feel I should attempt to wrap up this loaded topic here. Perhaps I will continue this debate in later articles, but I feel I have expressed a solid enough case for now as to why todays music does not suck. I am not trying to deter you from your opinions; all I ask is that you express them respectfully as opinions, and not facts. I cannot stop you from saying I think today's music isn't as good as yesterdays, but just remember, when it comes to the idea of one era being better then another, there is no right or wrong. Just like you say I think today's music isn't as good as yesterdays, the next guy can just as easily say I think you are wrong., and he is not any more right than you in saying such. Just remember that yesterday, the music you fondly remember was today's music, and there were people just look you dismissing it as fake music. You have expressed your opinion that today's music sucks, and I have now expressed mine; that today's music doesn't suck.