By Claire Mountcastle
Beethoven, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Celine Dion: you probably have never heard of any of these people or groups. These names are some of the best things to ever happen to music.
I know what you might be thinking; they probably suck. You didn’t even mention Beyoncé or Taylor Swift. Exactly. Need I say more? Most of the songs out there today are either wildly inappropriate or lack the depth and originality created by past artists. It just isn’t the same as it once was: subtle, hard-hitting, magical. Very few musical artists today can capture that true music magic.
The first group that comes to my mind when I think about this is Depeche Mode. I’m sure you have ever heard of them. They are an ‘80s synth-pop band from the U.K. Martin Gore’s lyrics paired with Dave Gahan’s sultry voice makes for some pretty special tunes. Take “Blasphemous Rumors” for example: The song is about a 16-year-old girl who attempts suicide and fails. At 18 she has a revelation about God but soon after, dies in a car crash. What a deep song with a strong message and great vocals and music to back it up.
Or “Walking In My Shoes;” lyrics that capture the feelings Dave struggled with during his heroin addiction and how he pushed through. Songs like Ariana Grande’s “Side To Side” for example don’t quite hit the same way.
I will admit, the production that goes into making music today is incredibly more efficient and of a better quality than in past years. But production alone cannot capture the hearts of millions. Yes, I am totally aware that the current artists I have mentioned are doing just fine and making plenty of money, but it doesn’t mean their music is actually good.
Today, it’s all about mumble rap, bad country and vulgar pop. The majority of today’s music are samples from previous works. The most prominent example is Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice, Baby” which samples the popular Queen song, “Under Pressure.” A significant amount of people today didn’t even listen to Queen until “Bohemian Rhapsody” hit theatres last November. It’s a terrible movie, might I add.
Another example of sampling is Rihanna’s “SOS.” It is a sample of Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love.” It’ll blow your mind to know that Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” samples a Nine Inch Nails song. I’m not going to lie, I was shocked too. I never thought a rap artist would want any assistance from an industrial rock band. That’s music nowadays for you.
Repetitiveness is also a recurring thing in today’s music. I’ll just say it: I can’t tell the difference between Ed Sheeran and Shawn Mendes. They sound the same to me. It’s not just artists sounding extremely alike, it’s specific artists music. All of Beyoncé’s music sounds the same.
Pitbull, Taylor Swift, One Direction, Coldplay: they all sound the same. Album after album, nothing changes. Yes, you can argue AC/DC, Mumford and Sons, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sex Pistols and many more rock artists all sound the same on every album, but the difference is that all of their music is actually good.
I’m sure I have offended some people with this article, but don’t knock the good music until you’ve listened to it. One thing I’m sure we all can agree on is that it really sucks that music doesn’t hold the same values as it once did. It is ever-changing and sometimes not in the best ways. Hopefully, the artists of future generations will try to generate more authentic and original ideas while still holding the values of those who have paved the way before them.
Claire Mountcastle is a freshman cinema and media arts major from Anderson, Indiana.