Regardless of music’s being considered ‘good’ depending on personal preference or perspective, it is a fact that the majority of popular music today is worse than that being made 20 years ago. Style, beat, and genre, etc, are all subjective to personal opinions but it is undeniable that popular music’s content has suffered greatly in the past twenty years. In today’s top 40 hits you will hear from rappers all about their exploits as womanizers, drug users, party-goers and of course their badass reputation as a gangster; their puffed-up-chest stab at boosting their false ego and prestige above all others. Rock music has all but disappeared from the mainstream scene and whatever is left is strongly influenced by pop and hip hop, both lyrically and stylistically.
The devolution of music has a majority of reasons, not only in the evolving state of the music industry but also in the downward shift in public consciousness. Another factor is the changing shape of the landscape for emerging artists. And as more ‘talents’ are fed to the corporate music machine, less and less of the talent in song writing is coming from artists themselves. A YouTube hopeful can now get a record deal and be given songs to sing not of his/her own agenda but of that of the music label to which they are signed.
Hip hop and rap have taken a major upswing in the recent past few years and have taken their content right along with them to the top of the charts. Songs regarding women as sexual objects and not human beings, about a life of partying at the clubs and living in and out of a haze of intoxicants and drugs are a total commonplace thing. What was reserved twenty years ago to just rap or hip hop genres is now full mainstream music.
This year at the 2016 Kid’s Choice Awards two of the nominees for Favourite Male Singer are Drake & the Weeknd, whose songs regularly feature topics like heavy drug use and the dark subculture involved in it and promiscuous physical relationships with women among other things & they are nominated at an awards show for kids.
And this music is what is in the public consciousness now. Ideals of hedonistic life are flooding the mainstream media and acceptance of this lifestyle continues to grow and become the norm. So in comparison with music from twenty, thirty, or forty years ago, it’s not hard to see the steady decline in quality of musical content. And say what you will about style and melodic substance, but I’ll take a Fleetwood Mac song over modern rap any day.
Songs from past decades were at least in the mode of goodness; music that could uplift the soul and make you feel. After listening to an album of today’s music I just feel heavier, darker, depressive and more moody. It’s music that darkens the soul that brings us down to the level of club culture. And club culture is not the ideal set for mankind.
If you listen to a record from thirty years ago you will hear lyrics about relationships – not one night stands or short flings – but songs about actual relationships. The ups, the downs, the commitment to making a relationship work, or not work. Sometimes that difficult decision has to be made. But it was not a throwaway term the way it is now.
People might argue that music and life has simply changed since the 70’s or 80’s, and while it certainly has, it’s very hard to imagine a record from today’s music having anywhere close to the same type of longevity of the records of those earlier decades. And that’s how you can tell it’s real music – the kind that touches then heart and soul. It can still be listened to a hundred years from now and it will stir the same deep emotions and pull the same heartstrings as when it was first released. Play a modern rap song from today and you will not experience the same thing, and it will certainly not stick with you in the same way.
They say that you don’t really notice the lyrics of a song when you are happy, but when you are sad or going through a difficult time you can listen to the same song and suddenly it means so much more than the first time you heard it. And this testifies to the quality of the song you have heard. You will most likely not find yourself calling on rap and hip hop songs in your times of sorrow because of their shallow, empty lyrics and themes. But you might remember then ballads of old, the ones that struck a true chord with you.
Music is an integral part of human nature, and music that is in the mode of goodness beckons to us more in a much deeper sense than music in the mode of passion or ignorance. Music in the mode of goodness is music on the road to becoming something more that can eventually be pointed in the direction of the divine and actually provides benefit to its listeners.
If music on the radio today was better, if the content and lyrics and themes being promoted were of a higher standard, then society would have a few less problems than it already has on its plate. People might be more nature-oriented, more concerned about their fellow man, and more in tune with each other. There might be less social unrest, more unity, and more for each other and the planet which we are quickly destroying.
Getting good music back on the airwaves is an important step that needs to be taken if the people in charge want to effect some change on society. But until this happens it is up to each and every individual to make better choices in what they listen to. Just like the hundreds of other decisions everyone must make, what music one listens to is an equally important one because music will strongly influence the state of our consciousness, our thoughts, and our general disposition to others. If you’ve just stepped off the subway listening to “Here Comes the Sun” then you’ll probably be a lot more inclined to help someone pick up their dropped items. Of course there are exceptions to every rule and I’m not saying anyone can or cannot or should or should not listen to what type of music they like. People should just be aware of what they are putting into their consciousness and day to day feed.