Pop Music Problems

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Even if you don’t listen to the sort of radio channels that typically play pop music it can be difficult to get away from the newest mainstream delights from the likes of Katy Perry or Nicki Minaj. Pop music is regularly featured on television adverts and movie soundtracks and I suspect that, even if you lived your life with the mute button turned on you would still encounter the occasional friend or colleague singing or humming pop music to themselves as they went about their daily business. There is no escape.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a few mainstream artists who regularly release singles that are pretty catchy and contain lyrics that actually have some meaning, however, they seem to be diminishing rapidly. Over the years, different styles of music have arrived on the scene and gained temporary popularity. Prior to the arrival of childhood favourites such as N’Sync and the Spice Girls, we saw the rise of heavy metal, grunge, punk and hip hop to name just a few. This is proof that society’s musical taste is constantly changing, however, twenty years on and pop music is still dominating the charts. Except that the music we now categorise as ‘pop’ has been heavily influenced by a growing club culture and has transcended boundaries into the land of dance music. This has resulted in a recent stream of ‘dance-pop’ featuring fewer words and more instruments and, unfortunately, when I say instruments what I really mean is DJ decks. The days of guitar solos are long gone.
It is not just the quantity of the lyrics in mainstream songs that are decreasing but the quality of these lyrics, causing me to question whether the songwriters of today are actually any good at their jobs. When we compare Freddie Mercury’s masterpiece ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ to Katy Perry’s more recent hit ‘Firework,’ which was written by four people yet still opens with the question, ‘do you ever feel like a plastic bag?’ the degeneration of song lyrics becomes apparent. This is what mainstream song lyrics have been reduced to and, sadly, this is one of the better examples.
The lyrical barrel has definitely been scraped of late and it seems as though two templates have been developed for the use of today’s ‘dance-pop’ songwriters. The first template is the one where the same three lines are simply repeated over and over again throughout the duration of the entire song. These lyrics tend to be heavily accompanied by lots of thumping bass and will have the occasional ‘yeah’ and ‘ooh’ thrown in to shake things up a little. The second template features a lot more words but a lot less sense and usually results in me shouting at the radio. These lyrics contain double negatives and poor grammar, let’s take the lines ‘this is our house, this is our rules’, from Miley Cyrus’ ‘We can’t stop,’ as an example. With songs such as these playing a huge role in mainstream culture I cannot help but worry that the children of future generations who are exposed to them will struggle to pass their English GCSE.

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