Today’s music lacks authenticity and creativity

Posted on May 29, 2015

By Claudia Lechner

Look at today’s top music artists. Names like One Direction, Katy Perry, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, and Iggy Azalea come to mind.

These, in fact, are at the head of Billboard’s most popular artists.

But if one were to look back only 35 years, it would be a completely different story. Iconic names like The Police, Queen, Paul McCartney, Diana Ross, and Pink Floyd shone in this era. Even the now adorably dorky Pop artists Blondie and Olivia Newton-John bring back memories of everything music used to be and everything it has failed to be in the supposedly modern and improved 2015.

The year 1980 was not ages ago, although it may seem like it to teenagers listening to music today. But music, especially popular music, was still in its purest form.

This was the musical world where Stevie Wonder sang “Send One Your Love” and it wasn’t necessary for him to be naked, or use multiple varieties of obscenities.

Music was different then in many ways.

For one thing, not all the songs sounded the same.

According to a study conducted by Joan Serrà, a postdoctoral scholar at the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute of the Spanish National Research Council in Barcelona, two aspects of song, the timbre and the pitch, have all changed drastically in modern music. The timbre and the tone quality of songs has decreased, producing music that all manages to sound the same.

The variability and uniqueness of the pitch, which includes the chords, melody and tonal arrangements that come together to make up a song, has decreased immensely as well.

The result?

Artists have now lost a desire for complex and imaginative sounds. They seem incapable of taking risks with their music, pushing new boundaries to create a sound that no artist has ever dared to make before.

Which builds up to another drastic difference of today – the quality of the singer’s voice.

The presence of Auto-Tune has added new dimensions to who can pursue a career in music, and how much talent has to participate in the equation.

As “The Verge” writer Lessley Anderson pointed out in her article “Seduced by Perfect Pitch,” Auto-Tune can be used to “fix a little backing harmony here, bump a flat note up to diva-worthy heights there: smooth everything over so that it’s perfect.”

But since when did perfect replace real? Was it not better to hear the authentic rawness of Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s harmonies, or the unbelievable voice of Freddie Mercury that exploded with emotion without being falsely created?

Now, it is almost impossible to hear a song untouched by Auto-Tune; it can be creeping in the background vocals of Katy Perry’s newest song, or touch up Ariana Grande’s high notes to make recording easier. In fact, Anderson mentions that “you can even use Auto-Tune live, so an artist can sing totally out of tune in concert and be corrected before their flaws ever reach the ears of an audience,” which Kanye West did earlier this year on the Grammys show.

No wonder Time Magazine referred to Auto-Tune as one of the 50 Worst Inventions.

It was obvious then that music, just like life, was much simpler. There was a desire to write songs from the heart, and even test the waters with new sounds that still represented who these artists were.

There was no invention of personas, no false talent, or image. Music was what it was intended to be: whimsical and impacting.

Music today is not only degrading to listen to, but degrades the industry itself. By listening to music celebrating artificial voices, and no true musicality, one is encouraging the world to continue the decline of what once was an all-powerful, uniting force –probably one of the strongest forces in this world.

That is not to say, however, that there are no talented and decent artists out there.

Artists like Lana Del Rey, Adele, Ed Sheeran, and Sam Smith have decided not to buy into the falseness of pop culture and produce music that represents them as a benefactor to this world.

Then what stops Pop Culture today from realizing its downhill path? The worry that originality will not be enough to make it into the already extremely competitive industry?

As Taylor Swift said in an interview with Billboard, “If you’re upset and irritated that I’m just being myself, I’m going to be myself more.”
But who else will have the guts to do the same?

1 Comment

  1. Sol Montrond

    June 26, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    Very refreshing to read your article. Although I get frustrated and impatient about modern music, this “rut” we’re in can only inspire what music is really intended for, eventually. Truthfully, I write songs that come effortlessly and are very inspired. I haven’t had a strong feeling to share much of it yet, but I get tickled about the idea of instigating the areas beyond our comfort zone.

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