Pop Music and How You Too Can Ignore the Depression
I don't care about the current state of our economy. I should probably feel sadness, despair or a lack of hope. I just can't do it. Not without a proper soundtrack.
In the 1930s, songs like "Brother Can You Spare A Dime" led a nation of frightened and impoverished Americans through financial hardship. It's dismal lyrics and instrumentation was a stunning portrait of the American populace. America was broke, but we were united in song.
Pop music is popular because we all love to hear the same music. It could be argued that each piece of work has something significant that makes it popular, but with so many musicians out there, the song itself is becoming arbitrary to the modern music industry. Indeed, we don't care about the song, we care about sharing an experience.
The issue is that current popular music is tightly gripping cheesy cliches a that comes with the same thematic elements repeated ad nauseum. Popular songwriters no longer look to current events as source of songwriting. As the economic crunch looms heavier and heavier on our day-to-day lives, we move away from the seemingly frivolous content of such songs. Here are some examples, drawn from today's Billboard Top 10:
10.) Ciara Featuring Justin Timberlake- Love Sex Magic
Baby, show me, show me
What’s your favorite trick that you wanna use on me
And I’ll volunteer
And I’ll be flowing and going
Till clothing disappears, ain’t nothing but shoes on me
Why it doesn't relate: The song is overtly sexual. Not a single acknowledgment about a modern day struggles. If this was an exception and not the rule, it may be interesting. This may even be a good time for a good ol' fashion STD scare tactic in the middle of the song. Perhaps I should have sought a job in laying out soundtracks for R-rated high school dance movies, nothing else has been on the radio since the early 2000s.
Why I may have hated it anyway: I think I am missing the appeal of the shoes being left on. Perhaps it would be acceptable in the heat of the moment, but they dedicated a whole line of a verse break to keeping the shoes on! I'd be concerned if someone trying to hook up with you uses an offer to have "nothing but shoes on" as one of their predominant assets.
9.) Lady Gaga featuring Colby O' Donis- Just Dance
What's going on on the floor?
I love this record baby
But I can’t see straight anymore
Keep it cool, what's the name of this club?
I can't remember but it's alright, alright
Why it doesn't relate: This one isn't too bad. Lady Gaga and crew have obviously devised an ingenious economic stimulus plan: Drink 'til you pass out. Boost alcohol sales, boost bar employees and even stimulate the health care industry. Lady Gaga for President!
Why I may have hated it anyway: I hate dancing and I hate songs about dancing.
"He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt.
He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would
fully suffice." -Albert Einstein
8.) Miley Cyrus- The Climb
There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
always gonna be an uphill battle
sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
ain't about how fast I get there
ain't about what's waitin' on the other side
it's a climb
Why it doesn't relate: Sarcasm aside--not bad, Miley. Or more appropriately, not bad songwriters J. Alexander and J. Mabe. The song is about a troubling incident, but I feel as if the song is probably more about personal struggle and identity. I don't think Cyrus is talking about moving mountains of debt or climbing toward peaceful relations with North Korea.
Why I may have hated it anyway: This sounds like every piece of preteen girl pop music that has been released since Disney took over the radio.
7.) Kelly Clarkson- My Life Would Suck Without You
Guess this means you’re sorry
You’re standing at my door
Guess this means you take back
What you said before
Like how much you wanted
Anyone but me
Said you’d never come back
But here you are again
Cuz we belong together now
Forever united here somehow
You got a piece of me
My life would suck without you
Why it doesn't relate: It's another cliche. Man breaks heart. Man sorry. Woman accepts man back. Feel free to rearrange the genders in the story and you have 80 percent of every song written ever. Think about it--someone somewhere in America probably put her album on a credit card. Therein lies the source of our hardship.
Why I may have hated it anyway: I don't feel sorry for men or women who lose someone they're dating, particularly if I don't know them. You're going to have to dig a little deeper for my sympathy. More so, I don't care that they are back together. Come on Clarkson, have a little self-confidence.
6.) The All-American Rejects- Hope It Gives You Hell
I wake up every evening
With a big smile on my face
And it never feels out of place
And you're still prob'ly workin'
At a 9-to-5 pace
I wonder how bad that tastes
Why it doesn't relate: Let's travel into the minds of the All-American Rejects a moment. "I want to write a song everyone can relate to! Yeah, like that feeling of schadenfreude (pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others) you get when you see a former significant other fail! I know! I'll mock her working conditions in the first verse!"
Thanks for reminding the weakened job market that you are rock stars who are not only fortunate enough to have a job, but a super-sweet one at that.
Why I may have hated it anyway: It's infectiously catchy and sounds like a slightly less cool OK Go song.
5.) Jamie Foxx ft. T-Pain- Blame It
Girl, What ya drinking
Gone let it sink in
Here for the weekend
Thinking, we can
See what we can be if we press fast foward
Just one more round
If you're down, I'm for it
Fill another cup up
Feeling on your butt-What?
You don't even care now
I was unaware
How fine you was before my buzz set in
Why it doesn't relate: Apparently, Foxx is in support of the Lady Gaga political platform. Why are the charts filled with club music? I'm pretty sure 95% of radio listeners are in their cars. I have never seen a dance club crankin' on the FM. For real though, maybe Foxx just wanted to give everyone a scapegoat for our problems. Blame it on the Henny, bro.
Why I may have hated it anyway: I'm simply tired of the mating calls of quasi-thug, bad boys with a taste for expensive liquor passing this booty shaking junk off as music. I said it.
4.) T.I. featuring Justin Timberlake- Dead and Gone
Now thinking back then what a life I had
Most of that stuff, look back, just laugh
Some stuff still look back get sad
Maybe my homeboy still be around
Had I not hit the sucka in the mouth that time
I won that fight
I lost that war
I can still see my homie walkin' out that door
Who'da thought I'd never see Philant no more?
Got enough dead homies I don't want no more
Why it does relate: Well, it does. Surprisingly, this is a very poignant song. It may not relate to everyone in this world, but it certainly hits home with a lot of people who have grown up in struggle. This song is in a long line of pieces that may just be able to turn hip-hop back into songs of triumph over adversity instead of drinking and promiscuity. It may not relate to major world events, but it's certainly current.
Why I may have hated it anyway: Timberlake's vocals are repetitive and a little tiresome, but really overall, I don't think this is a horrible song.
3.) Soulja Boy Tell 'Em feat. Sammie
I need you in my life, yeah all day everyday I need ya
And every time I see ya my feelings get deeper
I miss ya, I miss ya, I really wanna kiss you but I can't
Six, seven, eight, triple nine, eight, two, one, two
Baby you know that I miss you, I wanna get with you tonight
But I cannot baby girl and that's the issue
Girl you know I miss you, I just wanna kiss you
But I can't right now so baby kiss me thru the phone, I'll see you later on
Kiss me thru the phone, see you when I get home
Why it doesn't relate: Another round of not so clever, coming-apocalypse-unaware drivel. On the genius side of things, the phone number mentioned above in the lyrics is a number where you can leave Soulja Boy a message. Hooray for the commercialization of what originally began as an art form!
Why I may have hated it anyway: Jealousy. Soulja Boy by far has the highest ratio of success to IQ of anyone on this planet.
2.) Flo Rida- Right Round
I like my jewelry, that’s always on gold
I know the storm is comin
my pockets keep tellin me it’s gonna shower
Call up my homies that’s home
Then pop in the night cuz it’s meant to be ours
We keep a fade away shot cuz we ballin
it’s platinum patron that be ours
Why it doesn't relate: Flowing cash, money galore and designer brands on everything! Isn't that nice?
Why I may have hated it anyway: You Spin Me Right Round wasn't good in the 80s and remixing it did it no favors. Then there was the whole viral video it was associated with. DO NOT LOOK IT UP (Innappropiate and gross.)
1.) Lady Gaga- Poker Face
I wanna roll with him a hard pair we will be
A little gambling is fun when you're with me I love it)
Russian Roulette is not the same without a gun
And baby when it's love if its not rough it isn't fun, fun
Oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhh, ohh-oh-e-ohh-oh-oh
I'll get him hot, show him what I've got
Oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhh, ohh-oh-e-ohh-oh-oh,
I'll get him hot, show him what I've got
Can't read my,
Can't read my
No he can't read my poker face
(she's got me like nobody)
Why it doesn't relate: I have no idea, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't.
Why I may have hated it anyway: Could somebody please convince Lady Gaga to quit this inevitable conquering of the charts?
There you have it. Almost zero relationship between current events and pop music. It's all sex. I wonder if Bob Dylan cries about the radio? If Woody Guthrie would have been able to stand it?
So, until someone wakes to the world and sees that music is becoming irrelevant outside the walls of a a few dance clubs, I will not sulk in the coming depression. As far as my radio is concerned, it's not even happening.