The Devolution of Music and the Degeneration of Popular CultureSubmitted by Sygnus Centauri on Wed, 01/28/2009 - 14:18
Much of the music being produced and popularized in the mainstream media today can at best be seen as mediocre from the perspective of an educated music lover. However, because some music is enjoyed by some and not by others and vice versa, it can be difficult to explain why most music today is mediocre in any sort of objective fashion. Likewise, to say that most music being produced today is wonderful is a claim which can be equally difficult to represent objectively.
Mainstream music is a reflection of social and cultural values being celebrated on a mass scale. These values are abstract things which might be made more tangible and accessible to the mind by examining what has become of mainstream music. This can be done by making a comparison between music in the mainstream today and music which might be forthcoming should there be a renewed interest in the notion that music is in fact an art which deserves to be appreciated for when it exhibits both genuine creativity and unmistakable originality.
Though it is now the year two-thousand and seven (the year in which this was written) there is still a feeling of being stuck in the last decade before the new millennium; which is evidenced by the fact that there are popular television programs being watched by millions which are solely based on rehashing and re-popularizing old mainstream music of the last couple of decades. Though such programs can be enjoyable in their own right, they represent a lack of originality taking place today. If there were something going on that was new and exciting in music, there would be more of a need to have programs featuring the new stuff rather than having to go back and rehash on old things. There is also a considerable amount of people who have been creating their identity around retro movements. That is to say, they have come to dress in ways established by popular culture of previous decades instead of dressing and presenting themselves in ways which are fresh and new. Inherently, there is nothing wrong with dressing in old fashions, but it is a type of evidence signifying a lack of creativity on the part of society.
Television programs such as American Idol are increasingly popular nowadays and while perhaps entertaining, the existence of such shows point to the fact that society values conformity more than genuine originality. Specifically, the show American Idol has contestants compete on the basis of their vocal ability
and has viewers vote for their favorite singer via telephone-voting. When someone is crowned the winner of the show, a major music industry corporation takes the winner and has them record music which can then be sold to the fans of the show. It is a cookie cutter way of making an artist and selling that artist to the public. The show is the result of calculating capitalism and has very little to do with celebrating the talent of the artist in a way that praises them for originality. On the contrary, it celebrates an artist for being marketable across the widest spectrum of listeners, which is an easy example of conformity for the sake of making money. Programs like this seem to do very little if anything to contribute to the overall evolution of music and culture; instead they simply represent ways for corporations to cash in on the current paradigm. That being said, a program like American Idol cannot be all bad and there are probably some goods which come out of it.
Radio and television are still the most relied upon mediums for people to obtain ideas about what is going on in the world, and they represent outlets which are capable of expressing the values of the overall culture. However, these mediums are soon becoming obsolete with the usage of the internet and new digital technologies and platforms are becoming increasingly popular ways for society to gain new perspectives on culture. The twenty first century has yet to fully shift into the complete usage of these new technologies, but it is well on its way. When it finally does cross over completely, the rules and values which were celebrated during the twentieth century will no longer be as influential as they once were. Where society and culture has been and where it is going is a question which should be on everyone’s mind. Moreover, where we can take it should be plaguing our imaginations.
(To read this study in its entirety please visit this website: www.centrinity.org