“I am no musician but the pain has been instrumental…” – Saul Williams
This is not an attack on Pop music. No insults will thrown at current pop royalty. As much as it is fun to shit on Katy Perry, LMFAO, Lady Gaga, or Drake, let them sit at their respective thrones. What I realized is that our music industry is built upon the same foundations of every major industry known to us, and in the case of music, it’s to make this form of media profitable for everyone. We download stuff off of ITunes, and we’re happy because we have the song we’ve wanted in our computers and the ones in charge are happy because these songs that they banked on have become profitable; it seems like a win-win situation. Save for a few acts like the Beatles and Radiohead, however, and it is apparent that pop music and its artists eventually become disposable; they’re only as good as the next big thing.
Staying relevant in popular consciousness (especially with Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry all playing a part in making our worlds as small as possible) is about as easy as building a house with your bare hands (and no tools). We shoot videos from our cellphones, read books on digital tablets, and download music onto our computers. Everything is at our disposal; wait a few minutes, then press play. The process of production is done at light speed, and has produced mixed results.
It wasn’t always like this, though.
There was a time when a Beatles LP could be played right after Beethoven or Bach record; James Taylor, Al Green, and Grand Funk probably went hand in hand back in the 1970’s. Simply put, our personal definition on what “popular” is has changed over the years. The great thing about this dynamic is while many eventually turn into novelty acts that visit our shores twenty years past their mainstream prime (Tears for Fears, Boyz II Men, America, Toto, etc.), the artists that endure all this becomes our ultimate reward. Without pop music, there wouldn’t be an underground scene.
Like an oasis in the desert, the underground offers an alternative for like-minded folks looking to revitalize their interest in music. To paraphrase Saul Williams, the greatest artists of our generation have not been born yet; they are waiting patiently for the past to die. The old guard eventually gives way to a new school of artists. But the process takes time. Regardless, the movement is in place, and as long as a majority exists, there will always be a certain few who will support the voiceless. And now is the best time to spread the word and start a wildfire of meaningful movements.
The revolution has been digitized. By our cellphones, cameras, and forms of transmedia such as Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare and will only intensify moving forward. The revolution has gone viral. There will be continuous reruns, brother, because we now have control. We have the power to control what we listen to, download, and watch. At any time. Whether we think this development is a good thing or a bad thing is entirely our own opinion; the only thing we can really agree on is that it IS happening, for better or for worse. The revolution is live, brothers, and can be accessed on one click of your mouse.
But there are many ways to turn transmedia in our favor. The pen is mightier than the sword, but Youtube, WordPress, Vimeo and Blogger are just as effective. There’s a lot of silly (yet entertaining, I admit) material online, but there’s also a lot of stuff that are meaningful. It is our choice to filter and separate the pointless from the substantial.
This isn’t an attack on Pop music. I do find some songs on the radio and TV very unappealing, but tin can productions and horrible lyrics will never go away. Pop music isn’t the enemy; the enemy is our complacency. The enemy is our resistance to educate and be educated. The enemy rests in all of us but isn’t permanent if we do something about it. I am neither a musician nor music historian, and I know just as much as the next person. I am not anti-Pop, just pro-progression. This is just an opinion, and we all deserve to have ours to be heard.
What is yours?