As I was writing this article, the song ‘Rock And Roll’ by Led Zeppelin aptly played on Spotify:
It’s been a long time since I rock and rolled,
It’s been a long time since I did the Stroll.
Ooh, let me get it back, let me get it back,
Let me get it back, baby, where I come from.
It’s been a long time, been a long time,
Been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time. Yes, it has.
When asked about my taste in music, I tell people that my preferences are eclectic. I listen to classical baroque and contemporary orchestral any time. Who can say no to jazz and a little wine after a long day? How about Soul, R&B and Reggae – Yeah man. My need to listen to rock music as therapy, also, has never been as real in university.
But for pop music… what happened after the 1990s?
I’m not against pop music; it was great when it was first invented. There was ABBA and Bee Gees, and eventually A-ha, U2, The Police, Pet Shop Boys. This old soul of mine wishes I lived through the 80s. So many emotions were invoked by the lyrics of so many classics, while their melodies have literally transformed lives. With the advent of pop music in such an era of change, artiste like Michael Jackson became dubbed the “King of Pop”.
But as with popular culture, they intrinsically start to become homogeneous. If you want to be on the billboard 100 in the late 80s, you must have gated reverb drum snares at the start, in the middle, and at the end of the song. Think Phil Collin’s ‘In The Air Tonight’, or ‘Kiss’ by Prince. This rhythmic drum sounds became quintessential to the pop music. At concerts, people would all sway their body to the same beats. The ladies’ hair had crazy volume, the men with permed mullet hairstyle and trying to spot Freddie Mercury moustaches with oversized, bright neon fashion. what a sight to behold.
Where did it all change and what happened to pop music today? A disclaimer: There are still good bands like Coldplay, Maroon 5 and Chainsmokers whose music transcends the generic pop. I can’t say the same for songs from Iggy Azalea, Meghan Trainor, or the new Taylor Swift. Are they to blame, though? At the end of the day, the music industry is after the dollar. Since humans crave familiarity, pop music has evolved to produce familiar-sounding tunes with senseless lyrics taking the backstage. Having songs with same beats and chord progression is not uncommon today.
An iconic legend, Frank Sinatra, influenced the Cold War with his signature song ‘My Way’, birthing the Sinatra Doctrine by the Soviet Union. Irish rock band, U2, sang ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ bringing international spotlight to the killings of civilians during the Northern Ireland conflicts. Eminem became the ‘King of Hip-hop’ not through his amazing rap style, but his lyrics that speak directly to our hearts. Lyrics to Mockingbird will remain timeless. As for Nicki Minaj, what did she say about her anaconda again? I shall not open the Pandora’s box of Korean Pop where I can’t differentiate the groups: BTS, EXO, GOT7, VIXX, EXID, B1A4, 2AM and 2PM.
But let’s not be fatalistic, the gap in today’s music is an opportunity for new music style to form. There is still hope for original music style, so let’s not categorize everything unique as Indie. When Jeff Buckley sang ‘Halleluja’, it was a moment of eargasm and goosebumps for me. He was a talent that left us too early, but the revolution will come if we embrace such deviations. I look forward to a better music culture.
About the Author
Ryan is a Year 2 political science major. Despite his studies, he doesn’t write political articles. He loves street photography, traveling and food, taking interest in lifestyle magazines. He occasionally draws and writes accompanying poems.