Music has evolved numerous times throughout the ages. What was once a time of the quaint and ethereal Renaissance sound became a period for the boisterous and extravagant Baroque music. From there came the Classical period, leading into the Romantic Era, and on to bigger and better things continuously up to present times. It is no secret that new music builds upon the forms and traditions of its predecessors, or that like history, musical forms tend to repeat themselves. After all, most modern songs today are built of the same four chords. Musicians today, like musicians of old, still try to progress and create a new sound, but often fall into whatever the norm is for that time. Something I find fascinating, however, is that there are a lot of artists creating music that reminds me so plainly of Romantic Era music. Now I know Lukas Graham isn’t composing Chopin worthy pieces, and Twenty One Pilots aren’t turning poems into a German lieder, but there are some striking similarities in the characteristics.
The chart-topping single "7 Years" by Lukas Graham, for example, is so popular because of the emotional appeal of both the sound and the lyrics. Graham creates a nostalgic sound with his melodic piano intro and the whirring flicker of what seems to be an old video. This all sets the mood for his emotion-filled song about his rise to success and the fleeting time we have on this earth. Much like the Romantic Era, this song is filled with honest expression that makes you feel. The song itself isn’t anything remarkable, it’s the appeal that it brings to an audience that can relate.
Another emerging artist breaking into the chart-toppers is Twenty One Pilots. With songs like "Fairly Local" and "Heavydirtysoul," they convey the struggles of overcoming depression, battling insecurities, and ignoring the consensus. Lead singer Joseph Tyler writes lyrics that express what he is dealing with, knowing that honesty in his music will permeate through the masses to reach those struggling with similar things. It’s not just the lyrics that make this band a modern-romantic one, but the diversity of their sound. Twenty One Pilots’ genre is hard to pin down. It’s a pop rock, punk, rap, sometimes reggae-infused sound that changes with every song. They are experimenting with synthesizers and all sorts of equipment, fulfilling the characteristic of dynamics play familiar to the Romantic Era. Just as Beethoven experimented with the dynamics of his music, Twenty One Pilots are becoming a major breakthrough in the music industry.
Other artists such as Sia (especially noting her song "Chandelier") and Melanie Martinez (with her song "Dollhouse") have added to this modern-romantic feel. The Romantic Era was all about expression and arousing and awakening emotions within the hearts of their audience. Composers then, like artists today, wanted to express the deepest concerns, intensities, and passions of life. Artists today want to convey real things. They are being honest, and trying to deliver messages to society that are more important than the superficial love songs floating around from previous decades; it’s interesting, and especially fitting, to see that they are borrowing from one of the most expressive and passionate times in history in order to do so.