Old Music vs. New Music

I could talk about how my first week of college went, but I don’t really want to. Sorry! Instead, I want to talk about a picture I saw on Facebook today. I write about music once in a while and what kind of music I like and why I like it. I think I’ve written once about the importance of music or something like that, but today I’m going to talk about this aspect of “new” music versus “old” music.

So what do I mean when I say new and old music? There is of course an aspect of time involved. Old music, at least as this photo described, was music ranging from probably the 50s through the 80s. The new music on the other hand was like 90s through the present. But I think the more important detail has less to do with time and more to do with style. The 80s, for example, had singers like Madonna, ABBA, Michael Jackson, and other pop legends ruling the pop genre, while Led Zeppelin, Queen, AC/DC, KISS, and other rock legends were owning rock music. Today, at least in my experience, there’s a lot less rock music around, especially “new” rock music. But there’s also a big trend of separating genres into the tiniest of subgenres, like indie rock, grunge rock, classic rock, rock’n’roll, punk rock, hard rock, whatever it is. Meanwhile, pop music has fewer subgenres, but it includes whatever is popular at the time. Even though pop is thought of as people like Rihanna, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, and people like them, country music stars can be played on pop radio if the song gains enough of a following. It leads to an interesting mix of songs being played on a single radio station.

So what did this photo actually say? Well, I’ve lost the photo now, but in essence, it talked about how the old music was written by the artist who sings it, has unique and personal lyrics, and is generally better than today’s music. I’m sure you’ve heard this debate or seen photos like this one, but I just wanted to come to the defense of my generation’s music. I see and hear people quoting famous people all the time, saying music is good for the soul, expresses emotion in a way nothing else can, and all these benefits of music. In school, the teachers claim that music makes you smarter, and more people should be involved in it. Music students always complain about their department not getting adequate funding while all the sports get plenty, or maybe even the core subjects. Arts are slowly dying, and nobody really wants that, but lets be honest. I like classical music, I enjoy listening to music, but I don’t enjoy those orchestra or band concerts. More people are willing to spend time watching a sporting event than sitting in a dark room listening to music. What I’m getting at is while people claim that music is good in any form, there’s a lot of elitism in it. I’m a perpetrator of this too, because I don’t like rap, or hip hop, or overwhelming dubstep and electronica. My favorites are country, country/pop, and pop. Lots of people, especially those who grew up with rock music, like my parents, really love the Van Halen or Bon Jovi or The Rolling Stones.

But here’s where I get kinda peeved. When you have the audacity to say one thing isn’t music because the song has multiple co-authors, or because it repeats stuff a lot, or any other petty argument like that, that’s the problem. I don’t care if you like Queen more than Beyonce. You can give any reason why Queen is better, but just because Queen is better than Beyonce to you, it doesn’t mean that Beyonce doesn’t make music. Writing your own music doesn’t make your music more musical. I think writing your own music is a good thing, definitely, but it doesn’t take away from those who don’t. Let’s look at two of my favorite artists: Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. Taylor Swift writes a vast majority of her songs’ lyrics, and probably a lot of the music too. Carrie Underwood didn’t write her own stuff for a long time, and since her third album, she’s been co-writing almost all of her songs. But does that make Carrie Underwood worse than Taylor Swift? A lot of people complain that every Taylor Swift song is about a breakup, while Carrie’s music is insanely diverse in lyrical content. And just because you didn’t write the song yourself, it doesn’t mean you can’t mean every word you sing. I’ve never written a song before, but I fall in love with some songs lyrics.

I’m kind of a perpetrator of this as well, but the repetition argument is also kind of dumb. A song doesn’t have to be a Bohemian Rhapsody to be genius. That song is all over the place, doesn’t have a chorus or really any repeated lines or melodies, while Rihanna does exactly that. It’s one reason I frequently badmouth Rihanna, because she only writes two verses, hits copy and past, and then calls it a song. But that doesn’t make it any less musical. I hear people all the time saying today’s music is all the same, sounds the same, all of that. Nobody sounds unique, all the melodies are recycled, etc. I feel that way about rock music. I can’t tell the difference between The Rolling Stones and AC/DC, or Van Halen from Bon Jovi. Cause while people might say a modern song is repeated lyrics and catchy, repeatable tunes with no originality or depth, I call the recipe for a rock song smashing some drums, viciously strumming an electric guitar, and singing either girls, drugs, or money. Of course, you’ll show me rock bands who aren’t like that, and I would show pop music that sounds completely different from one another. “Uptown Funk” and “Shut Up and Dance” sound nothing alike, but are both pop music. I don’t know of other songs that sound the same to either one. Regardless, while originality may be a good thing that influences which music you like more, it doesn’t stop the other kinds from being music. Personally, I think originality is rather subjective as well.

So that’s all I can really think of. I don’t mind when people state their opinions and have different opinions than me. I really don’t. What makes me mad is when somebody discredits another persons’ opinion, as if there is hard fact that makes one person right. Just because you don’t like something, it doesn’t change what it is. I’m not a fan of Picasso, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t make art. Art is a really fuzzy and subjective term as well, but I’m not going to have that debate again. That’s my post for this week. Let me know what you think about this old music versus new music topic. Until next time!


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