When some of my friends and I recently piled into a car to go shopping, we were deciding what music to play. Being notorious for my ABC taste in music (anything but country), my friends usually try to spare me the redneck vocals. They played Ke$ha’s “Your Love is My Drug,” and they all sang along to the song’s nonsensical, not to mention incoherent, lyrics.
At that moment, not only did I want to jump out of a moving car due to my friends’ heinous singing voices (love you guys, but let’s be real), but I was saddened by the obvious lack of talent in today’s mainstream music.
In my opinion, the quality of the music in today’s top 40 has taken a turn for the worst. When comparing today’s music, namely referring to mainstream music, to that of the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, and even the ‘90s, I honestly find it unbearable. What happened to the meaningful lyrics and soulful voices?
Before I delve into lyrics, allow me to briefly touch on song titles. Go to top40-charts.com, and check out the current major hits. You’ll find titles like “Turn Me On,” “Sexy and I Know It,” and “Strip.” Sense a common theme?
It’s as if my generation’s raging hormonal minds can’t stand to think of anything other than that meant-to-be-sacred three-letter word, and the vulgarity tends to leak into the actual content of the songs too.
With a few exceptions, like songs by Adele and Foster the People, songs found in the top 40 consist of lyrics that encourage the use of alcohol and casual sex.
Remember when Enrique Iglesias came out with “Tonight I’m Loving You”? It’s undoubtedly a catchy song; I admittedly go to the club and dance to it. Then I really listened to it and noticed the change in lyrics from the radio version to the real version. The word “loving” gets replaced by a word that is so offensive, my editor wouldn’t even let me allude to it in this story.
It seems like degrading women is a popular topic in the music industry. Tune into any station that plays the top 40 for more of where that came from.
So how does this compare to the music of our parents’ day? Back in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, lyrics had a propensity to turn to the raw emotion of love.
Junior Joseph Mueller agreed that “nowadays, it only seems to be about lust, not love.”
Lyrics used to be beautiful, full of inoffensive vehemence, and held sex in a higher, more meaningful regard.
For example, listen to John Lennon’s song “Love” written for his wife, Yoko Ono. Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is” and The Bee Gees’ “How Deep is Your Love” are also prime examples of quality love songs.
In addition to the distasteful lyrics found in today’s music, it also seems like no one can actually sing anymore. With the invention of auto-tuning, an audio processor that alters pitches, anyone can become a singer.
Let’s go back to the song I mentioned earlier, Ke$ha’s “Your Love is My Drug.” It is so heavily auto-tuned that you definitely would be in for a rude awakening if you heard her live. Her singing voice without the audio processor is horrendous. I didn’t know this was possible, but her singing is comparable to the unbearable singing that goes on in my shower.
With a voice similar to mine, Ke$ha would have no chance in the music industry if auto-tuning did not exist. Same goes for the voices of Miley Cyrus, T-Pain, and everyone’s favorite, Rebecca Black.
Flashback 20 to 30 years ago, and you’d find vocal performances that were Darwinistic…only the strong singers survived. Unique, yet mesmerizing, artists like Stevie Nicks, Michael Jackson, Etta James, Robert Plant and Aretha Franklin were able to thrive in the competitiveness of the music industry without auto-tune.
In fact, I cannot name a single singer from that time that used auto-tuning to perfect their pitch. It was not necessary because music required talent back then, whereas now, you don’t need to be a skilled vocalist to be a multi-millionaire.
Still, not all music in today’s world is as bad as I’m making it out to be. Gifted singers and song writers do indeed exist. But how often do you see them in the top 40? Mainstream music is largely made up of talentless artists singing about inane and lewd subjects.
There are other sides to this topic. For example, I can understand why people think hip-hop/rap requires skill. Busta Rhymes in “Look at Me Now” raps at an alarming rate, and it’s hard not to be impressed. Thus, I agree that it’s hard to judge music as a whole. Freshman Gina Coleman believes that “music has evolved. You can’t say it has necessarily gotten better or worse.”
But for me, I can undeniably say that the popular music of today can in no way compare to the hits of my parent’s generation. Long live rock ‘n’ roll.
Geena Maharaj can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.