Music used to promote good values
By Rohan Keith Andresen ’12
Every generation has experienced its own unique and defining genre of music; and with each genre, there has been a unique message.
What critically acclaimed American artists of the past sang about conveyed quite different ideals in their music compared to the modern day. For example, The Beatles in the 60s portrayed peace and love.
The 70s experienced a similar movement against the violence in Vietnam where many artists protested through peaceful music focusing on shared humanity.
However, there then began a difference in the subject of music. The 80s saw music that started to portray a lifestyle of partying and excess.
In 1990, Madonna’s hit song “Vogue” reached the top of the charts, bringing wealth and glamour to the forefront of music. Simultaneously, there was a rise in the popularity of hip-hop music.
Popular music advanced through the 90s and the 2000s where hip-hop became more prominent and the material became more decadent.
Early hip-hop, which originated in the Bronx, focused on dance and culture of a relatively low-income community.
Modern day hip-hop, and the consequent genre of rap, has deviated from the original material.
Today, the top charts are inundated with songs that again focus on wealth, luxuries and indulgences.
In 2011, three prominent rap artists—Drake, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne—recorded “I’m On One” that Billboard would name the 17th best song of 2011.
In it, Drake sings the chorus, “All I care about is money and the city that I’m from / I’m a sip until I feel it, I’m a smoke it till it’s done / And I don’t really give a ****, and my excuse is that I’m young.”
The blatant disregard for any sense of selflessness is evident in what the artists sing about. Other popular artists resonate messages like, “I get what you get in 10 years, in two days” and “Lifestyles so rich and famous /Robin Leach will get jealous /Half a million for the stones/ Taking trips from here to Rome/So If you ain’t got no money take your broke *** home.”
The indulgent nature of music and its popularity has escalated to an unprecedented level.
It is astonishing that the message of excess and decadence of the music that is so difficult to relate with for an average person has been so well perceived by the younger generations.
It is no doubt that music has effects on the listeners, and the message of selfishness and the importance of materiality must be reaching the masses and altering the way that they think about their pursuits in life.
Too often the average life of love and peace is not pursued in popular music, and therefore, maybe that is no longer the primary thing that the listeners care about in their lives. Or perhaps this is just a mirror of what has become important to our culture.
Either way, the excess in music is disturbing and we as listeners and consumers must be able to exercise discrepancy to see what should be imitated and what is simply ludicrous.