By Johanna Fleishman
Music progresses with society. Expecting that the same soulful rock of the ’80s will continue to be produced in an environment where technology and customs are advancing on a daily basis is as absurd as anticipating that the clothing styles of the ’80s should remain with us today. Whether we would rather listen to Journey or Taylor Swift is a personal choice; who has the right to say that what wouldn’t be music then can’t be music now?
In the compositions of past decades, music artists sang of the girls who lit up their life, the boys who crushed their hearts, and the struggle of living in a damaged world. They sang about the deepest emotions that they felt in life. Has that changed? For popular musicians, no. Artists are still using music as a way to express themselves and their feelings, even if that incorporates modern methods such as Auto-Tuning to make their songs more appealing to the radio.
Take Eminem, for example. Born Marshall Mathers, his life was a constant struggle: he failed to complete high school; he struggled to overcome drug abuse; he faced many difficulties in maintaining a relationship with the mother of his children. His music is consistently played on the radio. However, within his songs, the distraught emotions he feels about his daughter’s upbringing in When I’m Gone, or his determination to fearlessly face life in Not Afraid are emotions that are easy to identify with.
One Republic, another band whose more recent songs Secrets and All the Right Moves are regulars to the radio, is fully capable of composing deep lyrics which depict emotional moments. One of their most famous songs, Apologize, was nominated for multiple domestic and international awards; this acclaim could not have been achieved if the modern concept of pop music, which claims that the music has inept vocals and thoughtless lyrics, was accurate.
Even Taylor Swift is commended for singing songs that resonate with a huge portion of the teenage population. Every year she wins awards from the biggest musical award shows such as the MTV Awards, the Teen Choice Awards, and the Grammys. Although her talent is wildly different from the country tunes of Connie Smith or Dolly Parton, she is utilizing catchy melodies and diary-like lyrics to connect to her huge fan base.
Although many people argue that modern artists artificially correct the pitch in their voice, do not use real instruments, or sing profane and shallow lyrics, current pop songs are more similar to the twentieth-century music than we might imagine: just like older musicians, contemporary artists use music as an emotional escape. In a musically competitive society where people want their music to be embraced, it would be unwise of an artist to publish a song without using just modern technology. Today, when music is heard not only through concerts but also as dance music, gym music, and radio music, artists must address the needs of their evolving listeners.