I must have watched the following video by ‘ADoseofBuckley’ (his YouTube channel can be found right here) many more times than necessary by now – it’s a line-by-line review of the song ‘Want U Back’ by Cher Lloyd, basically describing why it’s a terrible excuse for a song:
It always makes me consider the general consensus that modern music is of a much lower quality now than it ever has been. But really… Is it?
Of course, songs such as the example above don’t do much to fight this ideology. For the benefit of those of you who didn’t watch the video, its lyrical theme can be summarized like this: Cher Lloyd breaks up with her boyfriend for no good reason other than she’s bored of him, then gets worked up because he’s found someone else. She then gets peeved because, contrary to her predictions, he isn’t crying and crawling back to her, and is instead happy with the new girl. To this end, the majority of the ‘song’ is about her whinging about it and taking pot-shots at the new girlfriend. It’s unfortunate to think that this is the general mindset of the majority of teenagers – but, I digress.
Most other songs which are released these days aren’t much of a far-cry from this. The predominant genres currently are no doubt R&B and Hip-Hop, which generally involve lyrics describing partying, drinking, ‘love’ from the point of view of hipsters and people who clearly don’t understand it and, as in Hip-Hop’s case, the singer’s car and the fact he/she is significantly wealthier than you, the listener. Not every song in these genres fit these stereotypes, but for the most part, that pretty much sums up today’s pop-culture.
Indeed, things look bleak from this point of view. However, when people make these arguments against pop-culture, they often cite the ’80s as the decade where music was essentially ‘perfect’. But then again, the lyrical themes in those days, while not as ‘suggestive’ as they are today, were still a bit ‘trippy’ to say the least. See, for example, ‘Cars’ by Gary Numan, which effectively pioneered today’s music, ‘Toast’ by Paul Young, which appeared in my personal Top 5 Worst Song Lyrics list, and ‘Fight For Your Right To Party’ by Beastie Boys, which is pretty similar to the partying theme found in standard R&B songs.
Of course, most of Michael Jackson’s repertoire was found in the ’80s along with ‘Mad World’ (easily one of my favourite songs), which proves that it was a pretty good decade for music. However, the same can easily be said for modern music in the form of hits such as ‘Broken Strings’ by James Morrison ft. Nelly Furtado, ‘Hero Of War’ by Rise Against and the spine-tingling example of pure perfection that is ‘How To Save A Life’ by The Fray. I implore you to listen to these songs if you possibly can, they are absolute gold.
So think about it – is the quality of music really degrading, or are those of us who believe it is just seeing what we expect to see? I agree that lately mainstream music has had questionable lyrical themes – such things are undeniable – but then again, it’s not exactly like that doesn’t happen all the time. I suppose the point I’m making is, quite simply, don’t tar everything with the same ink. It really isn’t all that bad.