Our Music Legends are Dying, and We Have No One to Fill Their Shoes

I’m not proud of the music that my generation has produced. I listen to it, I sing along and I even enjoy it, but I am not proud of it. On Jan. 10, we lost David Bowie. That’s a name everyone knows, or at least one that everyone should know. He was famous for classics such as “Changes” and “Space Oddity”. About a week later on the Jan. 18, Glenn Frey followed him to the great beyond. Frey’s name is not as big because he was known for being a part of the Eagles, but he had famous works such as “Hotel California” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling”. These deaths hit me hard, and you too, even if you have no idea who I’m talking about. Music is not what it used to be. Now, I’m not saying all new music is bad as I am one of the biggest Swifties and Directioners to walk this planet. My biggest concern is that these legends who are known for their ability to write and perform songs that have lasted for 30+ years are all beginning to die out and our generation has no one to fill their shoes.

When I first told my friends I was writing this article, they pointed out that our generation actually has a lot of great music; it just isn’t the music that’s popular. There are a lot of reasons for that. First off, we don’t buy music because it speaks to us anymore. We don’t buy it and listen to it because of how it makes us feel. We settle for it because it’s catchy and it’s what our friends are listening to. We pay for music because it has a tune that gets stuck in our heads; that is how low our standards for music have gotten. We don’t care that the lyrics contain about as much poetry as a cough drop wrapper. We don’t care that the music all has the same beat in the background and sound, we just care that the beat drops.

This isn’t the artists' fault. I honestly believe a lot of our musical artists today could be legends, but they don’t know how. Part of that goes back to when they were in school. Society is cutting all of our arts programs because they’re “unnecessary.” Well, let me tell you, we need artists! We need people who can feel emotions deeper than we thought possible and we need those people to teach us how to feel these emotions. We need people who can communicate messages of peace and love and war and hate. We need songs to listen to when we’re driving late at night after having a fight with our parents. We need songs to listen to when we’re experiencing loss and when we experience gain. We need songs that people make love to and songs that people break up to. We need songs that play in our heads as we’re walking to that huge job interview, and songs to make us realize that even when we have no jobs and no money, somehow, things will be okay. In short, we need songs that have substance. Taking away art and poetry takes away substance. Emotions are what give our lives substance. There’s no point in curing a disease if you have no sympathy for those suffering.

Another thing that’s drained our music of substance is that the process is rushed. Artists used to spend years writing one song, let alone a whole album; they would travel all over the world in order to find inspiration. They would experiment; they would work at it for hours and hours and they would make sure it was everything they wanted to say. Today, labels pay lesser talented or less attractive people to write the songs, while the front men or women go out and sing the message with the help of auto-tune technology. They aren’t looking for music; they’re looking for two-minute hits so the song’s over before we can decide if we want to change the radio station only to hear the exact same song. One Direction has recorded an album and gone on a tour for each year they’ve been together, so basically, they’re recording one album while on tour for the previous one, and on top of that, they’re now trying to write their own music. This is amazing, but writing, recording and touring all at the same time is not an environment that promotes creativity; it’s one that promotes the music industry.

It depresses me to no end that soon enough, the classics they will play on the oldies station as we drive our children to school are going to be songs such as “Hotline Bling” and “Cheerleader.” We don’t have to lose those songs: trust me the oldies had their fair share of songs that were famous for being catchy, but we can’t lose songs that have substance. We need to encourage artists to work to their full potential. My English professor’s first live concert was Bruce Springsteen; mine was “High School Musical.” While “High School Musical” is iconic and I fully encourage every living soul to experience the beginning of “Zanessa”, I always blush and laugh a little when I admit that my list of attended concerts are very lacking in talent when compared to my parents’. We need to be proud to someday present our children with the soundtrack of our generation, the kind of soundtrack that they fear that they’ll never be able to compete with.