Column: My beef with modern pop music

In today’s music industry, lyrics don’t matter, but the beat does.

“I’m go go baby, fresh oh baby, go go baby, uh oh baby, no no baby. Yeah yeah baby, now jiggle it baby, let me tickle it baby.” A man named Armando Perez, aka Pitbull, was likely paid somewhere in the range of $20,000-$30,000 for rapping these words in a song.

Thank God for pop music.

The commodification of music throughout the 20th and 21st centuries is nothing short of a crisis. Since the dawn of the instrument, music has served as an art form, a method of expression. It always has, and in most cases, it always will. However, popular music (more commonly known as ‘pop music’) has recently evolved into something entirely different.

In modern society, music is a commodity. It is bought and sold as commonly as eggs in the supermarket. And unfortunately, this has produced an ulterior motive for creating music: greed.

This accusation, of course, does not indict all artists, and it’s not meant to. But if you survey the big players in the music industry, you’ll find an abundance of evidence. The Billboard “Top 100” reeks of ‘artists’ making songs with lyrics consisting of clubs, parties and wealth — essentially, anything but creatively inspired content.

If you disagree, picture a member of LMFAO waking up at 3 a.m., feeling euphoric with songwriting inspiration and jotting this down: ”party rock is in the house toniiiiiight/everybody just have a good time/and we gonna make you loooose your mind/we just wanna see you … shake that!”

Needless to say, it’s a stretch. Lyrics like these prove my point entirely. Pop artists are no longer trying to make art through their music; they’re making a product.

In terms of art as a whole, this problem seems to be exclusive to the music scene. Take painters, for example. Sure, they paint to make a living, but that’s not their sole motive. They paint to make art, to express themselves. Most artists whose works are truly world-renowned, such as Da Vinci, Monet, and Van Gogh, never fell into great wealth while still alive. Their pieces exploded in value after they died. Do you think a pop artist like Pitbull would be making the type of songs he’s making if he knew they wouldn’t be popular until after he died? Probably not.

Many often ask, “So what? What’s the big deal if someone wants to make a shallow pop song?” The big deal is that it’s tainting our perception of music as a whole. What does it say about our society that Katy Perry has 11 Grammy nominations under her belt? It says that if your end goal as an artist is to make money, you’ll be successful and rewarded.

Music is a mode of self-expression, one of the strongest forms of art that exists in this world. Pop music regularly takes this time-honored tradition and throws it to the dirt in return for fame and album sales. To the world of wealth and status, the artist is dead and the pop star reigns supreme. Quite often, those in the music industry for the right reasons lose, and those in it for the wrong reasons win.

The 60’s belonged to The Beatles. The 90’s belonged to Nirvana. When our generation passes and historians look back and give this decade to LMFAO and Ke$ha, tell them I did my best to stop it.

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