Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Kids Today: Music Today

When we I was growing up (Gen X), I would never dream of listening to the same music my parents listened to. So I'm always surprised to find kids today listening not only to what their parents listened to when they were teenagers, but to learn that it's not uncommon for them to also listen to the music that their grand parents love.

And I make this observation not to besmirch young people today, either. I have been fortunate enough to have had a couple of very bright children as students and I think they are as good or better as any generation. With any luck, they will save us from national debt and invent flying cars that run on air. Not to mention that thank God we are producing eight year olds who intuitively understand the intrinsic value of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.

I think the simple fact is, the latter half of the 20th century was a golden age in pop music, where songs were both entertaining and socially relevant –a common enough circumstance in Africa and the Caribbean, but otherwise rare in the Western world. Honestly, I wish I could have contributed to it, but I didn't, or I couldn't, or they wouldn't let me, or insert your favorite excuse here, and now it's over.

And today, in it's place, circa 2010, we live in an new age where music is oft relegated to a utilitarian role.

Hi, just arrive? Welcome (Cue The Beatles).

This circumstance is good for tunesmiths licensing works to electronic games and advertising campaigns, but not so good for artists trying to ignite (or simply participate in) a revolution.

So, yes, there are still great songwriters today, but does one of their tunes fit on my fitness workout playlist? Will it help sell a car? Will it lead to interest from EA Sports? Does it work as a cue for a Television drama?

Well, it had better, because that is the criteria now.

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