All Tuned Out

Music is everywhere today. From radio stations to television commercials, artists can write almost anything they want and reach nearly any audience imaginable.

As music becomes an increasingly a more important part of our lives, one would expect the quality and content of music to become better and better.

Has this happened?

You be the judge. The top-grossing songs on iTunes at the moment are from the Glee cast, Katy Perry and Rihanna. Remember artists like the Beatles? How about Steely Dan or Dire Straits?

If you’re like me, you’re shocked by the lyrical content and embarrassed by the lack of complex melodies in today’s popular music.

How could an industry, which began with such a bright future, take such a wrong turn?

There is one reason: money.

Music executives don’t care about the quality of the music they produce and they don’t have to care. Music, as much as it is music, is also a business and people are in the business to make money.

Logically then, they will support whoever can make them the most money. If attractive people like Britney Spears can sell records, executives throw them into studios where they pump out unoriginal, degrading material, and put their sexually-charged image on the album’s cover.

As disheartening as this process can be, it isn’t successful unless the masses buy into their finished product. Sadly, this has taken place, and it has helped fuel the embarrassment most of us call “pop” music today.

So what does this say about us as a culture?

As technology has progressed, we have ditched our record, cassette and CD players for something more convenient: portable music devices such as the iPod.

Don’t get me wrong, the iPod is a fantastic invention; I own one. There is no denying, however, what these technological changes have done with our musical attention spans: they have shortened them to the point of oblivion.

Gone are the days when we used to put a record on a record player, sit back and let the music sink in. Remember when people used to listen to the entire record instead of solely one song?

As a consequence, the melodies of today’s music have also gotten less and less complex. Songs are all in the same timing. They all feature the same unoriginal material and lyrical content. Where has the originality gone?

I’m not writing this column saying there is no worthwhile music out there; it exists, you just have to dig deep to find it. I’m writing this to let you know what you’ve bought into.

Maybe you like artists such as Christina Aguilera and Justin Bieber. You have every right in the world to like their music. Just please realize why they are popular and compare that with the struggling artist on your street corner.

Send Sean your comments at spmccaul@asu.edu