LETTER: Artistry lost in modern cultureTo the Telegram: Like so many others, I have watched our social values and cultural mores stretched to the breaking point by one extreme act after another — forcing me to wonder if we are on a path to self-destruction.
To the Telegram:
Like so many others, I have watched our social values and cultural mores stretched to the breaking point by one extreme act after another — forcing me to wonder if we are on a path to self-destruction.
We continually cheapen our existence with shallow values and ever more materialistic ends. This is evident in our political gridlock and crass cultural hype — it is even glaringly apparent in our music today.
The music many of us grew up with, hardly compares with the extravagant dance routines typified by dozens of scantily clad dancers, who all but cancel out the beautiful vocals that today’s Pop stars are really capable of. Instead, their artistry is buried beneath choreographed moves and sensationalistic light shows that are more typical of a Cirque du Soleil performance than a musical act. Their audiences seem more impressed with marketing hype than, any actual musical excellence their idols might possess.
And, then there are the belligerent displays of various rap artists, whose main message seems to consist only of expressing rage, as completely in-your-face as they can. After telling off the world with angry snarls and profanity laced tirades, the apparent reward is a lucrative career rife with garish displays of “bling.” They then become the winners of the world.
In 2005, The Black Eyed Peas, won a (song of the year) Grammy for a song with lyrics consisting of something like, “My hump, my hump, my lovely lady bump.” Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing the matter with a beautiful lady like Fergie laying down a groove that celebrates her sexuality. But for God’s sake, let’s not make it the “Song of the Year.”
Those of my age remember the poetry and artistry present in the hits of The Beatles, in songs like, Hey Jude, and Let it Be, along with the energetic rhythms in their earlier hits like, Eight Days a Week, and Hard Day’s Night, along with Can’t buy me love and so many others. We also enjoyed the poetry supplied in the works of Simon and Garfunkel such as, Scarborough Fair, The Dangling Conversation, Old Friends/Bookends; I am a Rock, The Boxer, and many others. I like to think these songs were a little less shallow than any screaming, self-indulgent Grunge singer’s rant. We were also appreciative of 50s ballads and early rock ‘n’ roll, as well as big band songs and the swing era — because they too, also represented genuine and enjoyable acts of creativity.
Today’s music, all too often, conceals the true vocal talents of its stars, and panders only to a pop-gristmill mentality that is served up like so many hot dogs at a state fair, and it’s too often, completely lacking in depth. I’m not saying we are On the Eve of Destruction,” but we are losing some wisdom and beauty in return for sparkle and hype. We may not need to repent, but we desperately need to Wake Up.
Peter W. Johnson,