The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love,” was released on July 7, 1967; it was listed as Number 1 on the American Top 40 that summer for three weeks. And exactly 45 years later, On July 7, 2012, the Number 1 song in the country is “Call Me Maybe,” by Carly Rae Jepsen, and the song expresses the following: “Hey, I just met you/ and this is crazy/ But here’s my number/ So call me, maybe? / And all the other boys/ Try to chase me/ but here’s my number/ so call me, maybe?” Is it the standards of AT40 that have plummeted or the general quality of music? I tend to agree with the latter.
When I entered college this past fall, I was expecting to be challenged academically and to mature socially, but I was not expecting to gain a deeper appreciation for music. Up until I began college, most of my music choices were based upon the American Top 40. It wasn’t until my peers started speaking in a language foreign to me and began purchasing tickets to campus concerts featuring artists I had never heard of, that I realized how lost I was.
An organization at UMass Amherst called “MASS EDMC” contributed to my confusion; many students are representatives, selling tickets to the concerts and wearing their “MASS EDMC” t-shirts all over campus. At UMass, it seems as if music is the nucleus of most social activity. Maybe my eyes weren’t open to it before or maybe I just didn’t care, but after spending a year in a large college town, music is always on my mind. After talking to my friends who recently finished their freshmen year in college at other schools, I know I’m not the only one whose eyes have been opened to this culture.
Before UMass, I was essentially clueless regarding music outside the mainstream and it amuses me how much more I feel that I have learned in only a year. In my opinion, it goes to show how the college experience is about more than just academics, parties, and social awareness.
In a way, the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) scene has taken over the industry and places impeccable pressure onto every other genre of music. Take the debut of Maroon 5’s newest album, “Overexposed,” released on June 26, 2012 and compare it to their first album, “Songs About Jane,” from 2002. A band that once had such an honest sound released an album this summer that attempts some sort of play on a combination between dubstep and pop all in one. I find it horrible. “Overexposed” suggests to me the utter pitfall of this decade’s musical culture.
When I got home this spring, I started exploring my dad’s music library and realized how much I had missed out on. All those years that I had Taylor Swift’s album on repeat, I could have been learning about the origination of today’s music through rock & roll legends such as Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Rod Stewart, John Lennon, and so many others.
Now, when scrolling through my iTunes and deciding which playlist I would like to listen to, choices such as Billy Joel or Elton John are discernible, whereas twelve months ago I would rarely have considered either. In a way, my taste in music is going back in time, and while my close friends at home don’t see the appeal, I now can’t imagine living without it.
Exploring the music of the sixties, seventies, eighties, and even nineties has made me feel almost ashamed of the music of our decade. I can’t help but wonder, what music will the future children of my contemporaries reflect on? What will they listen to? The amount of respect I have earned for music of the past doesn’t seem equivalent to the amount of respect our future children will have for today’s mainstream artists such as Carly Rae Jepsen.
Some of the best bands today are the most underrated. Some of my favorites are The Kooks, Of Monsters And Men, Phoenix, Justice, The Shins, Passion Pit, Matt & Kim, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, My Morning Jacket, and Sean McConnell. Why such talented artists remain under the radar doesn’t baffle me; the only way to earn fame is to add a pop beat in the background. I respect the fact that these bands refrain from doing so. They choose quality over fame, and this decision ultimately shapes their flair. Years from now, I plan on introducing my children to this music rather than what is popular on the radio.
In my book, if the music is not in any way comparable to a band like The Beatles, it’s unacceptable. Therefore, you may wonder why I respect the EDM scene, and this is why: while my first instinct is not to blast AVICII while doing homework or cleaning my room, the sound that this genre produces is honest. EDM doesn’t try to be something it’s not. The artists don’t classify themselves as pop. On iTunes they are classified as “Dance,” because what else are you supposed to do when you listen to it? And so I see this movement as relatable to The Beatles in the factor of honesty. Maroon 5, on the other hand, is a pop band trying to sound electronic, although it used to be rock. Maroon 5’s progression, or downfall, as I see it, unfortunately reflects many artists’ musical paths over the last several years.
Even though pop music will undoubtedly remain a predominant aspect of the mainstream on the airwaves and online offerings, it is comforting to know that “real” music has an undying audience. Through developments such as YouTube, Spotify and SoundCloud, those who look for quality music have the ability to do so.