As consumers of entertainment, we’ve really come a long way. Our movies, television shows and even Broadway musicals are becoming ever more diverse, nuanced and intellectually rewarding. Almost anyone with any taste can easily find entertainment suited for them with websites such as Netflix and Hulu, and those who crave distance from more traditional media have outlets like YouTube to keep them satisfied. The only area the industry has seemed to miss, however, is music — arguably it’s most vital component. So why and how has modern pop music, those songs and artists that dominate global charts, let us down?
Let’s first examine the music itself, it’s lyrics, melodies and rhythms, and how those are produced. Ever wonder why many songs on the radio sound similar? It’s not a well known fact, but most of today’s top hit songs are at least partially written by the same four people. While singers like Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber definitely contribute a bit of composing, most of the musical work is done outside. Song lyrics are also getting progressively dumber as well, unfortunately. From 2005 to 2015, song lyrics (this study included pop, rock, R&B and country music) have gone down to below third grade level — so easy a 7-year-old can comprehend. Aside from lyrics, a recent study in Spain analyzed pop songs from 1955 to 2010. Subjecting the music to an intense algorithm, researchers found that “pop songs have become intrinsically louder and [blander] in terms of the chords, melodies and types of sound used.” Put simply, the "musical pool" of sounds and rhythms used by pop artists is shrinking for no apparent reason. Our other forms of entertainment are shifting towards vast diversity and intelligence, why, then, does the music industry deliver us the exact opposite?
The culture surrounding pop music itself is to blame as well. Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Rhianna and other mega-famous pop stars repeatedly get called out for their inappropriate behavior and blatant disrespect for fans, yet they maintain a cult-like following. Remember the donut incident? When JB decided to urinate in a mop bucket? It’s hard to take the music these people put out seriously when they don’t seem to take themselves too seriously. Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to put some space between you as a music consumer and these morons.
Like any other industry, demand drives the supply put out to the masses. If people who don’t care for pop music stop listening, the music industry will scramble to create something better. For instance, indie’ bands such as Fleet Foxes and London Grammar have earned my support and money by creating what my ears hear as high quality, original sounding content. Music streaming services like Spotify are perfect places to scout out new and original sounds that suit your tastes, you just have to go looking for it. Don’t let the top charts stifle your musical experiences. Seek what the untapped musical world has to offer. But hey, if you dig pop music, that’s cool too.
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