People of every race, age, culture, and sex have been listening to music for ages on end, enjoying the many different sounds, types, and genres we have available for our listening pleasure. As the years have rolled forward, perspectives have changed, and society has been manipulated by means of the lyrics our music artists provide us with. Many of us spend hours on end enjoying some of our favorite songs, and discovering new bands that we enjoy the lyrical company of, but how often do we think of the impact these lyrics have on our daily lives, the people we have become, the hopes and dreams that we have? More often than not, we underestimate the influence our favorite music artists have over us. In the past 10-15 years, the quality of the most popular genres has changed and been down graded significantly.
Let’s take rock, for example. While at one point we were influenced by the intelligence of such artists as Tool, with Maynard’s lyrics of God’s giving of free will for humans being used to beat their brother down, surviving misguided and fighting for everything not worth fighting for, while never opening the eyes to the beauty we’ve got in front of us, we now are influenced by Nickelback’s idea that the girl shaking it in the pretty pink thong look’s so much cuter with something in her mouth. Think back to the days of Alice in Chain’s Layne Stayley conveying a lifetime of hurt and pain with such power in his lyrics of chasing misprinted lies, facing the path of time, and fighting the battle alone. Today, we have Hollywood Undead singing of how they want the bi***es to know that they wont stop until they hit that. Where is the quality in that? Where is the inspiration, the beauty, or the soul? One can’t help but miss the honesty and intelligence of such artists as Pink Floyd, The Eagles, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. While there are still many artists who have maintained the essence of Rock music, such as Disturbed, Shinedown, and Soilwork, there are too many more who seem to have completely lost the passion, perseverance, and beauty.
Now let’s take into consideration probably the most impacted genre’s of all, Hip Hop and R&B. Quite possibly one of the most influential artists of all time, Tupac Shakur brought some of the most heartfelt lyrics of all time to the scene, with lyrics of the devastating effects of the common hatred of women by men, incidents of rape, and all of the hardships he was dealt in his lifetime. Turn on your radio, and most likely on your mainstream hip hop station, you’re going to hear Lil Wayne singing of getting his lollipop licked, or making a move on the nearest female police officer. Where we once had the beauty of such artists as Brandy, singing of the excitement of teenage love, we now have the all too frequent lyrics of Ludacris and his high quality of marijuana, along with the all too frequent lyrics which revolve around sex, parties, and the unforgettable dance lessons of Soulja Boy. This genre has, in most cases, been impacted the most, as we’ve seen it go from the quality of those such as Diana Ross, Jackson 5, and Frankie Lymon, to the all too popular T.I., Plies, and Trina.
Probably one of the less impacted genre’s, we’ve still seen a change in the quality of country music as well. Remember the days of Dolly Parton, Hank Williams Jr., Conway Twitty, and Randy Travis, with his lyrics of loving someone forever, even when the old men sit and talk about the weather, while the old women sit and talk abou told men? Let me introduce you to the newfound lyrics of Billy Currington managing to get a high class woman to fall in love with him just by giving her good directions to get some sweet tea. Once upon a time, we listened to Loretta Lynn sing about the life of being a Coalminer’s Daughter, however, now we have Carrie Underwood singing of destroying the truck of a cheating man.
How often do we stop to think about these changes we see taking places everyday among society, and consider that maybe these changes are due, at least in some part- even if small and seemingly insignificant- to the change that we’ve seen in the quality of the music we listen to so often? Do we stop to consider that these lyrics of hate, sex, and drugs could have such an impact on the lives of ourselves as well as our children, and generations to come? By no means am I saying that the music we listen to today is not worth listening to, or enjoying, but if one stops to think about it, if the change and downfalls we’ve seen in the music industry in the past decade or two could in any way speak for the way society has changed so much, what does that say for generations to come?
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