I often find myself having mixed feelings about today’s pop music. Sometimes when I turn on the radio, I’m rocking out to Adele’s latest hit, or shakin’ my hips to Shakira, but other times as I drive to class I’m so over every station that I end up turning the music off. At times it just seems like everything sounds the same, and it’s only when something really unique happens (I’m thinking Melanie Martinez, though she isn’t really on the radio which is super sad) that my interest is peaked again. My poor car is a 1997 Honda, and it doesn’t even have a CD player (OMG) but it does have a cassette player. It’s kind of funny because, especially during the summer time, I find myself more and more putting in my mom’s old cassettes (why did she keep those?) and listening and singing along to The Beach Boys, Rick James, and Otis Redding. There’s something about these artists that are so much more timeless and exciting to listen to than today’s Top Twenty. But why? Why do I keep classics from the 60s, 70s, 80s on my YouTube playlist, but often rotate out more recent songs?
For myself, part of the reason is how ‘groovy’ something is. It may be fun to sing along to Adele’s apparent emotional strife, but there is nothing else to do. Songs today aren’t that fun. Unlike James Brown (actual bae) I can’t dance to Adele. Maybe it’s the retro aesthetic vibes that are inseparable from listening to the oldies, but for some reason, it’s always more fun to rock out with my friends to a catchy, groovy, happy oldie than it is any of the squeaky clean pop music of today. I mean, America is pretty much the most diverse place out there — we have a lot of opinions and a lot of different aesthetics, it doesn’t really make sense to me that as a collective, we would prefer to simplify and conform to one way of creating pop songs. We’ve removed a lot of the individuality and specialness that Americans are so proud of and encourage in others. There is definitely pressure on Millennials to be more and more perfect — more perfect grades, more successful careers, a more beautiful body, a more ideal life. Perhaps this pressure has forced it’s way into music as well. With the goal of creating more perfect music, editors and publishers have actually taken away some of pop music’s value.