Happy Bloody Monday, everybody! Here’s to another discussion about our favourite thing in the world from a writer’s perspective.
I’m one of those people who don’t listen to the radio. I owe it mostly to the fact that I don’t drive long distances, because c’mon, that’s what radios are for: long-distance driving. Right…?
I was that snobby 14 year-old who dressed in black, dyed her hair, and scoffed on “popular music.” How it’s not actually music. How it’s shallow. How it’s musically simplistic, lyrically even more so, and basically a way to package sex and sell it to our ears over broadcasted sound waves.
Well, I’m not 14 anymore. Granted, I’m still a cynical douche most of the time (winky face to my friends IRL 😉 ).
Pop music deserves our attention. Yeah, I know, we’re paying it attention already by listening to the radio, going to clubs, and being responsible for Lady Gaga’s multi-million-dollar paycheque. But that’s not the kind of attention I’m talking about.
To make a comparison, let’s look at other forms of art.
In any form of art – visual, musical, literary – the Snobs separate it into two categories: high art and low art.
High art = the stuff in galleries: the stuff that tries to evoke some sort of statement; usually conceptual. Low art = the stuff that’s pretty: fanart, video game art, anime, etc. High literature = the stuff of the masters: Shakespeare, Chaucer. Low literature = your Barnes & Noble bestseller fare.
Let’s pause on books because technically I’m supposed to be studying them for this piece of paper called a BA. I’ve always found it kind of useless to study Shakespeare and Chaucer. Sure, high literature is interesting. It flexes your brain. It’s good practice. It’s good to know how to appreciate it. But if I ever get another piece of paper called a PhD and was expected to beg the government for a grant to write a book about a book…I wouldn’t touch Shakespeare and Chaucer. People have been talking about Shakespeare and Chaucer for hundreds of years. Sure I can add myself to the conversation, but I’d rather start my own conversation.
I’d start a conversation on the books of my generation. I’d study Harry Potter and Fifty Shades of Grey. I’d study Orange is the New Black and Breaking Bad. Why? Because so many people love them. So many people are directly influenced by the authors and writers of these works. I think this is because they are so relatable. They reflect us. Somehow. And that’s the point of art: art expresses the world we live in. It etches our experience forever into print, into paint, into sound, into our minds.
High music = the stuff of symphony orchestras, so-called “art music”: again, largely conceptual, attempts to express something. Low music = the stuff on the radio.
Yet most people couldn’t care less about symphony orchestras and their overpriced wine. We’d rather pre-drink and flock to a Katy Perry concert in a loud-ass arena. But why?
Pop music is popular because it reflects our experiences. And when it goes out of style, we know our world is changing. For this reason, I think pop music is a vital part of our society that deserves a second glance. It’s part of our world history book of collective consciousness. I listen to Lady Gaga and can affirm that positive identity and equal rights are pillar values of my generation. So is freedom of expression and the right to be crazy. I listen to “Blurred Lines,” hear the uproar it effected, and can see that a new wave of feminism is riding strong in my generation. And I hope people in the future can look back and see these things too.
Besides, pop music isn’t necessarily “bad,” musically. I dare you to look up a super-popular artist and listen to their entire album. You’ll find gems in there that were never promoted on the radio waves.
Also, everything was once pop. Shakespeare was once Hollywood material. Da Vinci was the greatest expression of the Bible fandom. Mozart’s music was freaking pop music when Mozart was alive.
So go ahead, people. Listen to the radio shamelessly and listen to it well!
(By the way, I love writing these things. If I’m not a weirdo and people like yourself actually enjoy them too, please let me know by liking/commenting/sharing these Music Mondays!)