Hip Hop, Pop and the Dumbing Down of Our Society
From Over The Top To Downright Lazy!
For quite sometime now I have been gathering my thoughts in order to discus the reasons why society will shun the incredible writings and musical genius of certain forms within the Heavy Metal genre while embracing the mindless pop and rap/Hip-hop fluff that has continued for generations to plague the airwaves via radio and MTV. What is it that makes less complex song structures the drug of choice in our modern culture? How did we de-evolve from the enticing mastery of classical composers such as Johan Sebastian Bach, Ludwig Von Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart into today’s modern riff raff such as evidenced in recent years by the likes of 50 Cent, Fergie, Kelly Clarkson, the Pussycat Dolls and Snoop Dogg, not to mention other less than stellar artists who have ridden high on the charts throughout the last decade or more such as Britney Spears, Green Day, or Nirvana, among others? I fully understand that when you’ve taken an art form to its extreme that you often have to take a step back in order to move forward once again. This is where the less is more philosophy comes into play, but this path too can only go so far before it becomes overgrown and the pursuit for something new and innovative becomes a desperate struggle for originality. To find peace of mind in a world that is continually known for repeating itself and rehashing old formulas is scarce at best. To fully grasp the situation one need only to look at the horde of artists that are reverting to the pop standards of yesteryear in order to make a buck today. In just the last few years alone artists such as Rod Stewart, Bette Midler, Michael Buble, Cindi Lauper and Michael Bolton have all gone this route and that’s just naming a few off the top of my head. You can also look at the motion picture industry as a prime example of the lack of originality. Nearly every movie that has come out in recent years is a remake of an old film or a previously formulated idea. Television too has lost much of its creativity to reality show sitcoms. Now, I truly do believe that abstract art and even the pop music world have a place in our society but I don’t think that they should ever lead the charge as this ultimately has become more or less a reflection of laziness in our culture. We could definitely take a lesson from our Roman ancestors who throughout the years became so complacent in their lifestyle that they were eventually overrun. After all of their great battles were won they became lax in their endeavors. The mindset I believe went something like this. If there are no more territories to conquer why should we continue to train our military and being that slavery is an easier means to an end than actually doing something ourselves what need have we of inventors or scholars? This ultimately limited if not completely halted the technologically advancement of their society. Now I’ll admit that I do have a certain fascination for pop music in that it takes relatively no thought to comprehend and I see it as being purely opium for the masses; in essence a good way to just veg. out. The term elevator music used to be a means to describe the background music you’d hear in the elevator, the department store and restaurants; it was light, un-intrusive and relaxing. Today what do you hear in these places? Usually top 40 AOR or Pop.
Simple minds crave simple music!
It’s no secret that our society is designed to cut corners and make life as easy as possible. Just look at the microwave oven, cell phones and Netflix. However, when it comes to musical ingenuity, if you can program a machine to do something and save yourself the trouble, this is not necessarily a good thing. When you fail to be a part of the creative process and simply a follower of trends, artistic ability to put it bluntly goes right out the window. With less thought being put into today’s compositions and artists relying on the computer age, pro tools recording equipment and physical appearance to make and sell hit records you have to ask yourself what have we come to? Simple rhythms, simple beats and melodies and uninspired lyrics are what make up our current musical landscape. How many samples does it take to convince someone that they are unoriginal? To take and sample someone else’s composition and call it an original work is still plagiarism in my book. Our desire for simplicity in music as well as everyday life is a direct result of our lack of intelligence. Our society has become increasingly lax in just about everything we set out to do. We are overweight, under educated and unwilling to be involved in anything beyond the scope of our own individual comfort zones. Musically speaking our world has become nothing more than trend. No longer are there artists who will leave behind a legacy like that of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Van Halen, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin to name just a few. There are no comparisons to these artists today just as there are no comparisons to Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. So then, is musical complexity and passion dead? Not at all, it has just not being given the recognition that it so rightly deserves. For many years now there have been artists from the hard rock/Heavy Metal world continuing to create masterful works of musical brilliance. Now don’t get me wrong I do believe that there are relevant forms of music outside of Heavy Metal but my goal here is to bring light to a genre that has been ridiculed for far to long while inferior musicianship has been given an over abundance of praise and to explain why it is so important that we not let things proceed on the level that they have for fear of it leading to a much more serious condition of our society. Much of today’s Metal artists as well as many of the 70’s and 80’s Metal artists base their sound on classical composition. Virtuosos in their own right these bands strive for excellence like no other musicians. The evolution of the genre today has spawned a renewed interest in classical music as well as opera and fine art, a modern day renaissance period if you will.
Hope For The Future
Accomplished artists such as Finland’s Nightwish, Holland’s Epica, Sweden’s Opeth and Arch Enemy, England’s Dragonforce, America’s Nevermore and Brazil’s Angra are just a few of the many artists that are continuing the legacy of quality song writing while trying to gain the respect of the masses and who with any luck at all will help to bring about a reform to the world of respectable musicianship. To continue down the path that we have been heading will surely lead to the demise of our way of life. While I know that many will be quick to point out that it is just music which is all a matter of taste let me remind you that this is merely one piece, one particular aspect of a much larger picture that will inevitably find our society in a place where it does not want to be. Try looking at the broader scope of things, be it music, art, politics and religion they are all connected and are all coming under fire mostly because of people’s lack of interest to do anything about our present state of affairs. Music in my opinion is just a really good starting point as we all identify with it. As it reaches us on an emotional level and instills in us a way of conducting ourselves, I hope that by putting more thought into our art we will ultimately save ourselves from the same fate as the Romans in their time.
© 2008 On Track Magazine.com/2013 The Metal Priest.com