Partying. Partying. (yeah!) – Music as the reflection of a culture

by: Brendan Ryan

The music of the 1960’s will forever go down as the sound of change.  Within each lyric were the undertones and overtones of messages like “Power To The People,” “All You Need Is Love,” and “Try to learn to love another.”  This was crucial and needed in a time where American teens’ peers were being drafted and shipped off to fight in Vietnam. It was a demand for peace, love and equality. These messages were necessary not only for the hope of a better future but to vent out stress and anger at the current situation of the time.  The decades of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s would not have the same need for such a powerful message but would still keep close the theme of love and expression, taking advantage of the power music has when allowing you to deliver a message.

Some where along the line….this changed and we are now thrown into the mainstream of the 2000’s and 2010’s. “The era of the Party-er”

Here’s an experiment:

Turn on your local mainstream Top 40 radio station. What song is on? How long do you have to wait until the words “Club,” “Dance,” or “Party” come on?  With the way our mainstream pop radio plays out, you most likely won’t have to wait too long.  Almost every top 40 song on the radio in America today is about just this; going out. getting drunk. hooking up.  Why is this exactly? Could it be that the youth of today is neutral to any topics that were once censored? What phenomenon happened in the youth culture today to make this the overplayed topic so popular?  Club hits about dancing and drinking had always been involved in the mainstream rotation but never to such frequency.  One person to credit/blame may be this young woman right here:

The very popular KE$HA attacked the mainstream music scene in 2005 with her extremely huge hit, Tik Tok; an anthem about waking up hungover, and going out to party and get drunk.  Unlike past songs about partying and clubbing, these lyrics were right in your face. There was zero subtely or innuendos and the teeny boppers ate it up. People were quick to laugh at the in your face demeanor while also tapping their foot along.  Slowly this blantant form of partying expression became more and more common. With the same half time bumping bass drum, over compressed synthesizers and heavily auto-tune vocals, the mainstream radio stations have become a constant 24/7 dance club.  It was as if the songs were produced the way their messages deliver. It was as if the singer singing about partying was rushing out to get to a party and so they threw a song together. Catchy = yes. Repititive =  yes.  And though they get everyone moving on the floor, it also serves as a threat to the time and care that used to be put into the lyrics and melodies of songs. It as if anyone could make the same thing in their own home in a day:

A more recent example of this comes with Chris Brown’s hit, “Yeah x3.” It is always fun to compare how artists like Chris Brown who have been around for a few years have changed their sound to cater to the popular message of today’s sound. Here in comparison is Chris Brown’s Yo (Excuse Me Miss) from 2005

To his 2011 hit, Yeah x3

With lyrics like “You like to drink? So do we!” In the chorus, there is no question what the motive of the song is.

The blatant of the blatant came with the most recent viral video for Rebecca Black’s “Friday,” a terribly written pop song by an unknown teen-aged girl and the production company that backs her. Her video currently has over 98 million views and has been mocked by everyone and their grandparents for the awfully unsubtle lyrics. But in the beginning when the song first surfaced, people didn’t know whether to take it as a joke or not but in truth, the lyrics of the song are not too far from any of the other lyrics and messages in today’s mainstream sound.

With songs and messages like these, it is hard to tell what is next for the mainstream music world. Surely there is no more room to top themselves with simplicity. Perhaps what we are seeing now is a passing fad of a genre much like the 1970’s had with Disco. Something the masses will look back on and say, “It was silly but it was fun.”

Here’s to hoping the future of music isn’t the gymnasium of a middle school dance.

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One Response to “Partying. Partying. (yeah!) – Music as the reflection of a culture”

  1. […] that is associated with clubbing and our party culture, people can just go to the club and they are guaranteed to hear it. They more often listen to the […]

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