Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Essay: Pop music is getting sadder, apparently - part 2

by DJ Bobz

A few days ago I agreed somewhat with an article that pop music is getting sadder, although I disagreed with  the way the author of the article chose to articulate that notion.

The more I thought about it though, the more I thought that pop music isn't just getting sad, no, it's something even less definitive - it's getting more real.

The article alluded to the notion that Pop music reflects critical praise, and that Pitchfork promotes sad bastard music and influences sales of sad bastard music. Besides the fact that I don't think Pitchfork ratings have the kind of juice that would cause a band to change their style, I also don't think that bands would change their style because the latest Radiohead CD got a 9.5 rating.  Bands aren't that calculated.

I do think that Pop music is a reflection of something though.

Pop music is a reflection of changing attitudes in society.  In the 50's and 60's, we still held close the notion of the perfect nuclear family with the picket fence, and the chaste pop of the time reflected that.  The Stones and Beatles reflected the subtle changes in attitudes in the 60's, and psychedelic pop captured the laid-back mood of the 70's.

Today's music reflects the fact that the internet age has given us access to more information than ever before.  We can't pretend the nuclear family is real any more, and we don't have pop stars with the mystique of Michael Jackson any more.

Every pop star has to be real, even if it's a heightened reality version of themselves.  Katy Perry is known for her wacky costumes and video's, but recently she made a movie where we got to see her back stage and without make-up.  We need her to be real, and to a point she is, and that reality eventually gets reflected in her music, even if it's not really her writing those words that she sings.

Those words in pop songs represent real feelings and real emotions, and are presented in a more factual reality.  They're still not all that real, but they appear to be.

The sadness is the fact that pop stars are just like us, they're real people and they can't hide behind fancy video's or in big mansions.  They need to be accessible and by default, real.  If that means that they are also sadder, then that's the by-product and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Give me happy music, give me sad music, give whatever it is that A$AP Rocky does.

Just keep on keeping it real.

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