It is difficult to notice the degradation of something already horrible. The way a festering sore might look more or less the same over a couple of days, so too has the pop industry slowly began its descent from mediocrity to flat out reprehensibleness. We live in a society where debauchery is censored wherever possible in television and internet shows that are intended for family viewing, but don’t think twice about playing music with filthy subtext–or regular text, for that matter.
Pop songs today suck, and I say “today” with the reluctance an old man might wave his cane at a group of youngsters and talk about how he had to walk both ways uphill to school every day. I was born just long enough ago to listen to the rise of some truly awful pop songs and watch in both confusion and horror as they plummeted to the depths of Anaconda in recent years. Now of course pop songs are meaningless and awful, that’s what pop songs are supposedly about. Right? Wrong.
Turn on the radio and treat yourself to thirty minutes of generic pop songs about parties, love, drugs, love, relationships, love, break-ups, love, alcoholic beverages, love and love again. Generic singers with generic, auto-tuned robot voices howling about tried-and-true methods of reeling in the lowest common denominator with their music.
Turn on the radio and treat yourself to thirty minutes of generic pop songs about love, drugs, sex, lust, drugs, being cheated on, parties, and sex again. Generic singers with generic, auto-tuned robot voices, howling about tried-and-true methods of reeling in the lowest common denominator. This, in the pop industry at least, is nothing new. But have you noticed that lately they’ve been getting…worse?
The deteriorating of something that’s already horrible is hard to notice. The state of pop as whole has never been in anything resembling a healthy state. Boring, generic, party music has long been gently and carefully lobbed to us so that the stupidest, drunkest person at the nearest club can understand it. The problem is that it’s failing to meet even that paltry standard. Now they’re rolling it to us in a way so simple that even the drunkest, stupidest person in the world would find it insulting to their intoxicated intelligence.
It’s sad, really, how little effort seems to be put into the lyrics of pop songs these days. It seems almost adolescent, as if putting less effort into something will make it cooler or hipper. Sure, we could put more effort into this song, into the beat, into the tune, into the lyrics. We could give this song meaning. We could give it a message. But we’re not going to, because this is pop so we don’t have to try.
And this adolescent mindset seems to have infected the entire music industry, and it’s a mindset that we can only hope it’s an awkward phase to grow out of. Like a teenager it’s become obsessed with new experiences, with swears and breasts and lewd allusions to things so filthy they can’t even be repeated on the radio your song’s being played on. Raise your hand if you’ve heard a song whose most coherent lyric goes “Love getting ___ but hate chasing ___”
Mmm, all those words that are presumably so inappropriate they can’t be repeated on the radio. Now that’s real music.
Take Summer as a prime example of this mind-set.
Almost no effort was put into this song’s lyrics, and yet compared to atrocities like Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda it’s a work of art.
What saddens me the most, more than this adolescent outlook or these cookie cutter lyrics, is that there are people who support them, and even claim that there is meaning behind them. “I met you in the summer,” they say. “The summer! His relationship with this girl is warm, comforting and hot, but also only temporary and seasonal, just like the summer!” They’re wrong, of course. It’s just a song about some guy talking about what happens when fall comes (“The leaves turn brown”). But the effort is valiant.
That’s what saddens me. Because it shows we have people who want more than just a catchy beat from their songs. We have more and more people looking for meaningful lyrics, words that speak to us, can be examined. In short: Songs with meaning.
Instead of crap that doesn’t.