The Beacon

Is good music dead? A quest to find out what is happening to mainstream music

Parker Dorsey, Asst. Opinion Editor

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Good music is dead. That’s a statement you hear all the time, all over social media. This belief goes hand-in-hand with the notion that mainstream music is bad.

Saying it’s bad isn’t saying all of it is irredeemable. Personally, I like some mainstream music. Kendrick Lamar is one of the most talented artists of our generation. Lady Gaga is a multi-instrumentalist and writes music with powerful lyricism. I dare you to look me dead in the eyes and tell me Ed Sheeran is talentless.

“Good music isn’t dead. Music is in the best place it has ever been.””

Modern popular rap, however, does not fall into that category. It has lost almost all semblance of deeper meaning, or any meaning at all. In the 1980s and 1990s we had artists such as Public Enemy, Tupac, Run-D.M.C. and A Tribe Called Quest writing thought-provoking songs about violence, race dynamics and society.

Today, with the rise of SoundCloud, the messages have broken down to materialism such as ‘look at all this money’ or ‘look at all these women.’.” A lot of rap has forgotten how to use language entirely. Rappers such as Lil Xan or Tekashi 6ix9ine oftentimes use their voices as an instrument by mumbling into the microphone.

Another example of this is pop music. Pop music has become so formulaic that there is one man named Max Martin who has written nearly every number one pop song of the last 20 years. All he does is follow trends, and there is no passion put into the music because he just writes songs that people want to be told.

He writes songs general enough where they can apply to a wide audience. While not all music needs passion, there at least needs to be effort.

There’s not much effort that goes into mainstream music, which is why most people say ‘good music is dead.’ Mainstream music doesn’t display good music. Good, of course, being very subjective.

Good music isn’t dead. Music is in the best place it has ever been. When my parents and grandparents were growing up, they were at the mercy of the radio to receive their music. Occasionally they would find local bands, but other than that they consumed whatever the radio put out there. The only music that they knew was popular music.

With the invention of the internet almost every possible niche imaginable can be found in the music realm. Music today is in a better place than it has ever been because of this. If we didn’t have all this access to it then we would have nothing but the radio mainstream to listen to.

The streaming application Spotify and its ‘Fans Also Like’ feature enables me to discover new bands and music all the time. Case in point: there is this eclectic band called Skindred which combines reggae and heavy metal.

Or I can talk about Hellhammer, the legendary Swiss extreme metal band that is regarded as one of the progenitors of black metal, only had three demo tapes to their name before they disbanded in the mid 1980s. Were it not for the internet, the chances of me finding bands such as these would be minimal at best.

In fact, music discovery is something that has greatly evolved and grown over time.

I listen to predominately metal and many different subgenres of metal, and I find it upsetting when I see most metal is hardly popular at all. A lot of the bands I listen to have an audience of almost no one. They’re just making music because they love making music.

However, it’s refreshing that I was able to find them, and I would have never been able to find them if it wasn’t for the internet being the way that it is.

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Is good music dead? A quest to find out what is happening to mainstream music