In the modern western world, artists are required to conform to a fastidious style in order to succeed in the music industry. Thus the music industry holds the reins of the success of artists based on the image it has constructed. Lyrics mean nothing and artists are conforming to what’s popular right now. No talent is required.
Once upon a time, music came from the soul. It was deeply felt and full of individual expression.
In modern day music, artists are conforming to values nailed down by the music industry. Artists are altering their musical and personal style in order to be successful; they certainly aren’t ‘rockin’ in the free world’ anymore. It used to be ‘a long way to the top’ for rookie singers and this was once a hard rope to climb. Music used to be all about the music. When did it become a commodity, based entirely on image?
Lady Gaga is a prime example of the image we have been fed and exposed to and the image we have been conditioned to admire. She is exaggeratedly ‘different’ in a world where everyone is so very much the same. However, is this an example of pure and true individuality? Or is Gaga’s seeming ‘difference’ just for the sake of an image that is saleable? Interestingly, Gaga creates a false individuality. The image she presents us is merely a construction rather than an example of pure and soulful uniqueness.
She betrays the individuality of her soul and like Holden Caulfield; we know that this is ‘phony’. Lady Gaga is an example of alienation, used as a form of self-protection. She is pulling a ‘poker face’, hiding behind a mask of a lust for publicity. Her songs have little depth despite her musical talent. Gaga accepted her VMA music award dressed in an outfit made of meat, while at the 2011 Grammy Awards, she burst out of an egg. She sells her music with her eccentric look whilst her videos consist primarily of her lying half naked and using amateur hypnotic techniques to gain attention. She has embodied an image that will sell, however this image is not a true representation of her self and her talents.
The music industry has conditioned us to like a certain artist based on the image it has constructed, rather than our belief in the artist’s actual, pure talent. Remember back in the 80’s when we gave words ‘a little respect’? When music portrayed ‘mixed emotions’ and singing about the ‘love shack’ was as far as it went?
Something needs to be done to stop this plague of phony musicians who disregard their talent and conform to this ‘image’ for fame like Gaga. Would musicians who lacked soul and individual expression have made it anywhere back in the 80’s? No ... they would have been told to ‘beat it’! Has no one heard the quote from the famous American Judge Judy: “Beauty fades, dumb is forever”?
Australian Idol judge Kyle Massey, who is highly ranked in the music industry, told country singer Kate Cook that she needed to reinvent her style if she wanted to further her career in music. When told to change her musical style, her initial reaction was disgust as her passion had always been country music. She later made the top 25 after conforming to Massey’s advice. The music industry has authority over shows like Australian Idol to tie singers to a genre and an image, like puppets on a string. Kate Cook’s desire to ‘make it’ in the music industry influenced her decision to conform to modern pop. The music industry moulds singers into a stereotype, promoting whoever can ‘do’ what’s popular right now. Australian Idol judges appear to be looking for someone they can sell; someone for whom they can be the puppeteer. Kate reached the top 12 of Idol after her passion, her style and her individuality had been completely corrupted and contaminated. Singers who make it in the end lose their ‘free world’ and their individualism is tainted. At the same time, they are trying to be ‘the red hat amongst the crowd’; they are trying to be individual within a very specific ‘world’. They set up false pretence. Pure, raw talent is simply not enough; clever lyrics and a good voice are only small pieces of the larger equation.
Yet, do we even celebrate clever lyrics and raw talent anymore? Looking at the Aria Charts, it seems we don’t. Willow Smith thinks that it’s enough to just ‘whip her hair back and forth’, for instance. Will Smith’s nine-year-old daughter produced a song entitled; ‘Whip My Hair’. For those who haven’t heard the song, the chorus consists of the nine-year-old’s monotonous squeaky voice as she repeats the chipmunk punk lyrics: ‘I whip my hair back and forth’. The song shot to number one on the UK R&B Charts and peaked at number eighteen on the Australian Aria Charts. The music industry has sole power over chart movements since only a minority of people are willing to pay 30 cents to vote. Are the voters really getting their 30 cents worth, though? Ridiculously, Willow didn’t even come up with the line herself. Janae Rockwell stepped in and wrote the whole seven words for her; while Ronald ‘Jukebox’ Jackson created her extravagant outfits which are almost an identical copy of Rihanna’s … later credited by Willow as a musical influence. Correct me if I’m wrong but if this doesn’t scream ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ then I don’t know what does.
Certainly artists such as, Bon Jovi, Van Halen and even Bruce Springsteen would never perform a song like ‘Whip My Hair’ where the same seven words are repeated monotonously. A song like that undoubtedly could never have made it anywhere near the charts back in the 80’s.
Once upon a time it took at least four talented people to create a band. It also took clever lyrics which had both depth and meaning. The artist would convey some kind of story, emotion or even formulate some kind of statement with a universal message. Willow Smith’s rich father, conversely, paved the way for her music success compensating for her lack of talent.
Funnily enough, it is all about the style; music, has so very little to do with the ‘Music and Lyrics’ themselves. The television show Glee chooses songs for their depth and passion, and their ability to propel a decent storyline throughout the show. That’s something ‘Whip My Hair’ or ‘Just Dance’ could never do. Take for instance Glee’s intro song ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey, which conveys the message never to give up. Interestingly, the majority of the songs are from the 80’s. What does this say about modern day music?
“When words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain”.
Isn’t it funny how no one cares about lyrics anymore? Words are being wasted and we live in a day and age where everyone is rushing and there is little time to be had. In a song there are a limited number of verses and only so many choruses. You’d think they would say something with meaning
Glee is one small piece of proof that songs produced in the 80’s had more heart and soul than those that are popular now. Why else would ‘Glee Club’ of William McKinley High School choose those songs to perform? It is almost as if Glee represents the 80’s era. Anyone in the club is considered an outcast, weird, unusual and lame. The character Kurt Hummel is an example of this. He is different and picked on for being so. The music industry is bullying artists to conform to stereotypes, moulding them to be whatever is ‘acceptable and popular’ in terms of the industry’s current tastes. Anyone who defies the music industry is almost instantaneously turned away. Singers are put ‘under pressure’ to conform and if they fail to do so then they are never to make it in such a world.
In modern day society, artists have been required to conform to a particular style in order to succeed in the music industry. The music industry controls the success of the artist based on image, not on talent. Music used to be our ‘eternal flame’. Break up songs involved ‘roses’ and ‘tainted love’ instead of vulgar revenge and an undesirable ache for something better. Do you remember when ‘girls just wanted to have fun’? When we were all just ‘livin’ on a prayer’? When we were all on the ‘rock and roll train’? And so, boys and girls, to live happily ever after, we need to ‘let there be rock’, rather than a ‘Highway to Hell’.
I know at the end of the day, complaining about how crap music has become doesn't fix the problem. However, it made me feel better writing it all out so I hope you guys enjoyed :)