A Shift in Music

Last night I was continuing the usual routine of watching 80’s music videos with my mom, and as we watched Steve Perry belt “Don’t Stop Believing” in a crop top and presumably bell-bottom jeans (my mom and I could not decide if they were flared), my mom said something that stuck with me.  As we were discussing the fashion of this time period, my mom said, “You see, the great thing about the 80’s was that we all knew looked crazy, but we didn’t care.”

In that moment, I found my answer to the ever-present question that lurked in my mind ever since high school; the 80’s was such a magical time retrospectively because it was uncalculated.  People spoke from the heart and mental illness was still at the cusp of being understood. Bands like the‘Smashing Pumpkins sung about somber themes while dressing their melodies in heavy guitar and pretty vocals. While some may not have understood the darker overtones, many did, especially fans of the band.

Another thing: artists wrote the majority of their music!  Take The Smiths for example, “This Charming Man”, which is probably one of my favorite songs to exist (not just from their discography), was written by Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr.  Even though it was their second single to be released as a band, it was remarkably groundbreaking. The song takes on the narrative of a fearful younger male, and possesses a special kind of universal fragility that was wrapped in a technicolor bow.  

At this point it may seem as if I am trashing modern day music, which is quite the contrary.  Nowadays, musicians are under a lot of pressure given the vast amount of access to social media and hateful commentary.  Take Ariana Grande for example, she has to deal with everyone’s negative opinions of her every day. Her social media accounts are flooded with terrible comments ranging from her physical appearance, romantic relationships, and music.  She is trying to find the right narrative to please not only herself but the whole world, and honestly, I wish she would not. Dangerous Woman was an amazing album, and while I do not know her personally, it seemed to be her ‘Britney’ moment in terms of albums.  It was carefully crafted and came from a special place, which is how all music should be.  Her newer music just seems too calculated to me, and as if she is singing what she thinks the world wants to hear.    

Bottom line, music is different than it was in the 80’s.  Unfortunately, rock and alternative music is not at the forefront.  Bands like The 1975 are extremely underrated and it pains me. But, I can understand it to a degree.  Not everyone wants to listen to “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” when driving to work or school in the morning or tuning into their favorite radio station.  People want an escape in mainstream music, but I think the definition of that has changed over the years. Music represents a social shift. But let’s never forget the importance of vulnerability in music.