EDITORIAL:Can Music Still Stand For Something?
Can Music Still Stand For Something?
We often hear stories about how music has been a vehicle for social change and political expression,
of how it rallied generations of young people and inspired causes and movements that revolutionized
society. From politically controversial folk songs of the fifties and early sixties to the free living music of
the Hippies and the loud, angry sounds of rock and roll that captivated young people across the world.
Listening to music today, you wonder whether music has the same power that it used to have.
There is so much more music being put out today because alternative distribution channels and digital
technology have enabled both established and struggling musicians to get their songs out there, to
people all over the world. With so much more quantity, then comes the issue of quality. Are musicians
still making music that will last for generations? Will today’s music resonate with future generations in
the same way that the sounds of the Beatles, Tupac and Elvis continue to win over young fans? This is
definitely something that any musician or even a fan of music has thought about at one time or another.
Looking at popular music today, the kind of music that captures people’s attention and gets them
talking, it seems that it is less of a form of expression and more of a platform for promoting causes.
For instance, fewer commercially successful artists are using their music to explore social and political
issues. Rather, they tend to use their fame and celebrity status to support certain causes, Diddy for
example lent his weight to the Rock the Vote campaign which encouraged young people to vote in the
election. Pop starlet Jessica Simpson advocates support for Operation Smile while Mary J. Blige has lent
her name to certain charity fashion events. The music itself is less of a driving force for change in the
current climate where fame rules supreme.
This of course does not mean that music with a message is not being made; there are passionate artists
out there who continue to carry the torch of politically awareness and social change. From rock legends
Metallica to hip hop innovators like Lupe Fiasco; there are artists out there that still strive to use music
as a means of expression. They may not make the kind of music that tops charts or gets frequent airplay
on the radio but, they are out there.
In a way the tables have turned, singers with a message used to seek out there audience, today with
so much music is readily available, it is much harder for a singer with a message to find a mainstream
following. The onus is now on us as an audience to be more discerning when it comes to what we listen
to. It is our right and responsibility to seek out music with a message and to support those artists who
strive to keep this spirit alive. It isn’t enough to sit back and listen to what the record companies are
pushing on the airwaves and on TV. Today’s audience needs to realize that good music is out there,
waiting to be uncovered and thanks to the internet; it is just a click away.