Beat, vibe matter more than message


Jackson Heritage, Staff Writer

Everybody knows someone who seems to hate everything about today’s music. It’s not uncommon to hear people complain about how artists today lack lyricism, creativity, and depth in their songs, most often in pop or rap genres; and that older music used to be better in these aspects. And, on the surface, it may seem that those observations are true.

However, this raises a question that can’t be ignored: why is this supposedly “dumb” music popular? The artists and songs that people claim have no depth or meaning seem to always be the ones topping the charts. There must be something going on that’s making people lower their standards, right?

Well, not necessarily. Look at the big picture. For as long as music has existed, it has had two major purposes: to entertain, and to convey the artist’s thoughts or emotions. The ways musicians and listeners balance these things have gone through many significant changes. Today, there is an obvious difference in style, as more emphasis is often placed on how music sounds than what it’s saying. From the 1960s onward, artists tended to focus on lyrical content more and more, and people liked it.

As rap and alternative rock emerged in the late 80s and early 90s, the artist’s thoughts were the entertainment value. But this changed in the 2000s and 2010s, as lyricism became less of a priority.
However, today’s music does sell, and there is a reason behind that. Listeners aren’t focused on lyrical content as much anymore; they focus on the feeling they get from the song.
The vibe from an artist is no longer expressed through their words only, but through the song’s beat and instrumental style. People get the same variety of feelings from today’s songs that listeners would receive 20 years ago, just in a different way.

Therefore, music today hasn’t gotten significantly worse, or lost its depth; it just expresses itself in a different way.

Also, many artists today are criticized for having negative messages, such as ones about violence or sexism. While these things should not be condoned, many artists only include these themes to appeal to their audience, or for simple shock value, not because they are trying to negatively influence thoughts.

To today’s consumer base, the most important part of music is how it makes the listener feel. Songs can create happy, sad, calm, or excited feelings; and they don’t need to have a deep or sentimental message to do that.