Obviously, one’s age mostly dictates your preferred type or style of music. Generally, those of us who grew up in the Nineties will always insist that we had the best music… We’re mostly right, but that argument is for another day, Lol.
People who know me well will tell you that I haven’t been one to shy away from shooting down most of today’s music or artists. I’m speaking mostly of music/artists produced and released from around 2005 onwards. Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely a few duds out there since I started seriously listening to music… Anyone remember Woodpecker from Space, circa 1987? But over the past 15 years or so there has been a distinct shift from talented to packaged. What I mean is, from around 1960 to around 1999, artists had to have a modicum of talent in order to be successful. But somewhere in the mid 90’s things started to change. With the proliferation of boy bands like NKOTB and Backstreet Boys, success in the music industry became a type of formula:
Good looks + average singer + average dancer + top marketing = Success
A fantastic example of this kind of manufacture can be seen in the new documentary about Lou Perlman, the man behind N’Sync and Backstreet Boys. The documentary goes on to detail how Lou Perlman put out an advert for young males of ages between 18 – 25 or so and with specified personality types, etc. He then proceeded to create an entire fake persona for each one and marketed the new band with this manufactured history. Don’t get me wrong, historically, this has always been happening in the music industry, but it just seemed to become more common in the mid to late 90’s and even more prevalent during the 2000’s to the point where we now have a large number of completely manufactured artists in 2019. Reality TV hasn’t helped either, singers are now lining up for “instant stardom” as opposed to working hard on their art and paying their dues.
To be honest though, what chance do you have of being noticed even if you are hugely talented? So, it might make sense to try your luck on a reality show.
Nostalgia vs Reality
I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve heard the phrase “Modern music can never compare to old school music…” or something like that.
Most people aged 35 and upwards go on and on about how the music of their generation was the best. As stated before, I’m of the opinion that music produced between 1980 and 1999 was probably the best, although I have an appreciation for music from the era before that (1960’s and 1970’s). Especially when it comes to R&B, the best of this genre came from the 80’s and 90’s.
Although this is debatable, one cannot ignore the success of people like Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men, Babyface etc. Even in Gospel music (my preferred genre) we had bands like Commissioned, The Winans, Bebe & Cece and Kirk Franklin who blazed a trail during these years (albeit for different reasons, more about this in another blog).
With all this being said, we cannot deny that the quality of songwriter has degenerated over the past twenty years. Even Hip-Hop had a message during the 80’s and 90’s yet now, to be completely honest, I can’t even hear what the new Hip-Hop artists are saying.
The point of me penning my thoughts here is this:
If Lionel Richie or Babyface (two of the best songwriters ever) had to release a new album today would all the nostalgic music lovers support it? Or better still, if Justin Beiber had to record an album similar to that of Boyz II Men’s End of the Road would we all rush out to buy it?
You see, what we must realize is we attach certain songs/artists to a certain piece of our past and we love it because we feel a certain way when we hear these songs. I’m sitting right now listening to Brian Mcknight’s One Last Cry and I know exactly where I was and how I felt when I first heard it. This is the power of music!
So, what is the end game here?
Personally, I believe that the success of Ed Sheeran shows that there is a gap in the market in terms of authenticity in the way we write, record and perform music. Ed Sheeran has proved that you can fill a stadium even if you perform just with your guitar.
My point? Stop complaining that there “is no good music out there” and spend some time searching for and supporting new artists who write and produce authentic music. They are out there!
My favourites right now are Lauren Daigle, Johnnyswim, Ben Rector, Elevation, and (as always) Kirk Franklin (who has a new record out in 2019). Maybe tell me yours…