The Facebook page titled “Today’s Music Sucks,” with a profile picture of a radio being smashed by a sledgehammer, has 927 likes. There are certainly more than 927 people in the world today who hear pop artist Justin Bieber sing, “I was like; baby, baby, baby, oh!” and want to find a deep cave to hide in with their iPod chargers and collections of the “right” kind of music.
If we just cut all of the crap out, we might be able to save ourselves.
That meaningless pop music; that rude, loud, rap; that sappy folk; that rowdy, redneck country; that abhorrence to sound waves, dubsteb — if we just get rid of all the “bad” music, we just might be able to save ourselves and our descendants from the molestation of our eardrums and souls.
Thank the Lord in heaven above this will never happen.
People are very different and complex inside, and the things they hold dear and the crosses they bear are all stamped uniquely on their fingerprints, whispered or shouted through the particular music they enjoy.
The more I listen to music to hear what is “good,” the more I realized that not every person is going to emote so much as to melt into their shoes like I do upon hearing Radiohead sing “The Tourist.”
In other words, everyone responds and relates to music in a completely different way than their neighbor.
Music is a very powerful and personal force that helps us understand and survive our existence. Calling any kind of music definitively “bad” or “good” would be like saying there is a right or wrong way to feel or an incorrect height for a person to be. Music is a part of our identity.
Bob Darden, an associate professor in the Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media, as well an avid music collector and former writer for Billboard music magazine, says music is cultural. What songs he might like, someone in another culture might have a totally different opinion of. We of the Western-European sensibility said Beethoven and Mozart and Bach are good, but other cultures would get bored with that music really quickly, Darden says.
“If it makes you happy, it’s good music — even if everybody else in the whole world hates it,” Darden said. “If this is the music that gives you pleasure, then that music has value to you.”
But what about some of these simplified, over-produced, dime-a-dozen pop songs that One Direction and Ke$ha keep cranking out?
Are our heart and minds supposed to be touched by them?
Darden argues that different music serves a different purpose—some he listens to for pleasure, like Mumford & Sons, the Lumineers and the Civil Wars. Darden admits he particularly admires an artist who has a particular vision with his or her music and takes a stand with it.
However, he says, some music is just made to dance and have fun to.
“I don’t care if all the hip kids in the world hate it,” Darden said of Carly Rae Jepsen’s hit song, “Call Me Maybe.” “It’s a well-crafted pop song, and pop music is short for ‘popular music,’ and it’s designed for people to laugh and hum along with. Will I buy it for my own pleasure? No. But if it comes on the radio, I don’t turn that off.”
Can we tell a 13-year-old girl whose day brightens every time she hears a One Direction song that the band is a disgrace to the music world? When the beat of a rap song empowers a listener, can we tell them that what they’re hearing is just noise? When a country song reminds someone of the comforts of a simple life, can we tell them that they’re listening to tacky hick music?
I don’t really believe that there is such a thing as “good” or “bad” music any more than I do that there are “good” or “bad” letters in the alphabet.
If we only had the music that an “elite” few of us personally deemed as quality, good songs and artists and styles, we would be devolving, losing the breadth and width of this mysterious entity that God made a part of humanity itself: Music.
Rebecca Fiedler is a sophomore journalism major from Waco. She is a reporter for the Lariat.