The Now + Then of Music

It’s a subject that I often think about, most often when listening to the radio, and that’s how music has changed over the years. I’m a person who doesn’t particularly like listening to the radio, but seeing how part of my job involves driving around everywhere in a car that isn’t mine, I’m forced to listen to the radio. Honestly, my dislike of listening to the radio really has more to do with my frustrations with it. A lot of the more popular stations in my area (and I’m sure this applies in a lot of places) seem to play the same songs over and over again. This summer, I consider it a good day/drive if I didn’t have to hear a song featuring any one of the following artists – Pitbull, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, LMFAO, Rihanna…the list could go on, but the point is my idea of a good day has been rare. Also, you know it’s a bad thing when the radio can turn a song from one of your favourite artists and make you not like it because of the song being overplayed – in this case, it’s Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” The last time this happened was when Sara Bareilles was hitting it big with “Love Song” and everyone was playing it. It was a lengthy amount of time before I could actually listen to that song again.

I’m very well aware that the radio stations I choose to listen to are the popular ones, so they will be playing a lot of Top 40 stuff. At the same time, is it too much to ask for a variety of songs? I find it kind of sad that I have to listen to a radio station from Buffalo (if I can pick up the signal) to get an actually good variety of music. When I can actually pick up the signal for this station (Star 102.5), I get to hear, for example, Colbie Caillat, Sara Bareilles, Matt Nathanson. And it’s not just the songs that they’re famous for (“Bubbly,” “Love Song,” “Come on Get Higher” respectively) but their newer songs (“Brighter Than the Sun, ” “Uncharted,” “Faster”)! Of the more popular stations in this area, if I had to choose, I would listen to CHUM 104.5 and Magic 106.1 more often than 91.5 The Beat, Z103.5, and Virgin 99.9 because they give me a slightly better variety of music. Sure they’ll play the Top 40 stuff, but they also play older songs, which I appreciate.

Yes, this is all preference and people’s definition of what is considered good music varies; this is strictly my opinion, my thoughts. Fact of the matter is, these stations that play a better variety of music, both old and new music, gets me thinking about the songs I grew up with, because these stations plays those songs.

I’m 23 now, and if I look back on the past 10-15 years of music, and compare it to now, I would much prefer listening to the older songs. If you really think about it, the early 2000s were great years for music. We can laugh about the whole boy band thing that started in the 90s and continued on, but you can’t tell me that an album like NSYNC’s “Celebrity” doesn’t hold up today. You listen to some of the singles off that album (“Gone”, “Girlfriend”) and you can still hear it on the radio today. If we want to talk R&B, I would gladly listen to Usher’s “My Way” and “You Make Me Wanna” over his newer stuff. I would pick Aaliyah over anything these days. Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” and “Baby Boy” over “Run The World (Girls).”

Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve never been particularly fond of the dance music genre, but I look at the songs from back then (making it seem like it was THAT long ago, but it kind of wasn’t) and they seem to have a timeless quality to it as opposed to a lot of songs these days. These songs come on the radio and I still enjoy it as I did 10 years ago. I could just be cynical, but I can’t imagine the popular songs of today, holding up well, and still be good 10 years from now. With a lot of artists these days trying to make dance music, it feels almost dated. It’s a little hard to explain. All I know is that, now more than ever, I love and appreciate the artists who write music with meaning and heart, and they really try to make good music and not just follow what’s popular. Don’t get me wrong, I get that every artist wants to grow and experiment with new sounds at some point. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with sticking with what you know, what you do best, and showing what you’ve learned through your songwriting.

Music, like everything else, goes through cycles. So maybe right now, we’re in a little bit of a lull. And while a sizable group of popular artists are trying to make a dance record/album/song or trying to make everything a big spectacle, others are falling through the cracks of people’s consciousness, despite releasing albums with great music/songwriting/intentions. And honestly, this really just goes back to my longstanding wish that more artists get the recognition they deserve. Plus hopes that I can turn on the radio and not hear the same 10 songs or so, ALL THE FREAKIN’ TIME.

Rant over? For now…

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