One of the defining parts of the 1960s through the 1980s was the iconic music created during that time period. From The Beatles to David Bowie and Madonna, these are artists whose music we will not likely forget for generations. But when I think about some of the musicians who are creating music now, making songs that are popular for a few weeks, get overplayed on the radio, and then are never heard again, I wonder why these iconic musicians from the 60s will be remembered for centuries and musicians from this time period are mostly one-hit-wonders. While there are a few artists whose music may become as popular as Cyndi Lauper’s or Johnny Cash’s, I believe that most of the music created in the 2000s through today will soon become dust in the wind.
When you think back to some of the fantastic and poignant songs created in the 60s through 80s, the main things that differentiate these songs from others made during that time are that they will be forever meaningful and full of heart. We can all relate to when Marian Gold sang about wanting to be forever young, or when Freddie Mercury sang about just wanting to find somebody to love. While a lot of the music made currently (geared towards the Millennial generation as the music during the 80s was aimed towards their young people) is about partying, having sex, or doing drugs, that’s not what makes the songs emotionally unreachable. There were a lot of songs made during the 80s that were about partying, even if they weren’t as explicitly worded as the songs these days, and those songs from the 80s are still wildly popular. The songs today about being in love or being dumped aren’t actually so different from the ones made forty years ago. The main difference between the songs of today that won’t be remembered by tomorrow and the songs made in the 80s is that most songs these days are made for all the wrong reasons. They’re made for money or fame, they’re being produced as fast as companies can get them out, they’re played on the radio as much as possible, and the artists aren’t putting the same care and emotion into their music as before.
Music of the 80s had the definite sense of struggle and heartache to them, and the artists that really made a difference sang because they had things to sing about, things they needed to express, music they needed to share with the world. This is true of the artists of today who will also make a difference in the world of music. Though heartbreak and struggle isn’t necessary to make music, having significant life experiences definitely provides meaningful material for artists. Freddie Mercury of the band Queen struggled with AIDS for at least ten years during his music career, the death of Eric Clapton’s son inspired him to write the iconic song we all know and love called “Tears In Heaven”, and Whitney Houston dealt with drug addiction for a long time before it eventually killed her. Some musicians (like Bono and Sting) also used their music to inspire political change, singing sometimes for justice, world peace, and equality. The musicians who can continue this line of powerful songs will be the ones who will be remembered for many years to come.
The legacy of artists like Taylor Swift (whose first song came out in 2006 and who is still wildly popular today), Gwen Stefani (who started her music career in the 90s and has become a household name), and Beyonce (who I am confident will never stop being the Queen Bee and will never stop making music) is not one that will die out easily, and these musicians will continue to be popular and remembered even by our generation’s kids and their kids too. Justin Timberlake and Mariah Carey are still relatively popular and both are still making music. As much as this pains me to say, Justin Bieber has been making music since 2008, is continuing to make music, and we still eat that shit up. Someday, all these newer artists may replace in our heads people like Elton John, George Michael, Stevie Nicks, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, and David Bowie as some of the greatest musicians ever. And who knows? Maybe the artist who will someday be known for being the greatest musician ever on Earth hasn’t even been born yet. We'll just have to wait and see.