Shallow subjects in popular music spark nostalgia for classics

When turning on the radio today, it’s easy to guess what you will hear on hit music stations: mainstream, superficial music. Though I can’t deny that I find some of today’s music likeable with its catchy lyrics and upbeat tempo, I consider most contemporary songs to be lacking original, critical messages.

Silentó’s “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” and The Weeknd’s “The Hills” both rest in the top 100 songs on iTunes as of Monday Oct. 5. “The Hills” speaks on having sex with women, while “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” is about showing off silly dance moves like the “stanky leg” and the “Superman.” Neither of these tracks comments on pressing topics in today’s society.

Mainstream music doesn’t bother me because it seems more like background noise than music. Rather, it seems as though these artists do not have a real connection to the music they’re singing or rapping. With the lack of attachment that I observe between artists and what they produce, songs today sound less meaningful.

Looking back, many bands from the 1960s, 70s and 80s released hit songs that remain classics today. The Beatles, Aerosmith and Guns N’ Roses—to name a few—rose to fame because they had a rare quality that we are seeing less of in the music world: raw talent.

Many bands from the aforementioned decades wrote music that had depth. Their lyrics were meaningful and inspiring, but above all, they were powerful and influential. Thinking back to John Lennon’s timeless 1971 song “Imagine,” he discussed prominent issues that remain relevant in modern times like war, religion and world peace.

The most significant aspect to recognize about “Imagine” is that Lennon wrote it himself. Instead of putting out a shallow song about his passion for partying and objectifying women, he wrote about topics that matter. In my opinion, the closest we have gotten to an influential tune like Lennon’s is Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love,” featuring Mary Lambert.

Lately, songs on the radio heavily rely on repetitiveness—like “Watch Me (Whip/ Nae Nae)”—and seem to be about the same situations such as getting wasted and falling in and out of love. I believe it would be refreshing to hear some of these artists expand and evolve their music into something that doesn’t simply revolve around lust and partying.

There are so many important topics for artists in our generation to comment on through their music. I think some of these artists would benefit by expanding the range of conversations in their work. Today’s beat-heavy, party music is undeniably enjoyable when you’re drinking or hanging out with friends, but I’m not sure it’s something that everyone wants to hear when they want to relax and actually listen to music.

I’m not saying that all musicians today have neglected to instill meaning behind their lyrics. I simply feel as though many artists of our generation have abandoned the thrill of participating in relevant conversations about the conflicts in society.

I hope that as time goes on, inspirational musicians will take over the music scene as they once did.