Change
in Music Throughout the Decades

            The music industry is a continuously
growing sector of pop culture, that is heavily influenced by prior generation’s
sound. Have you ever wondered why a majority of the Billboard’s top hits often
sound similar? Record labels and the media continue to project songs that gain
revenue and popularity from the radio, and are most downloaded. In an article
written by Tom Barnes called “Scientists Just Discovered Why All Pop Music
Sounds Exactly the Same”, he gives an insight of how music becomes popular. The
researchers write, “As music becoming increasingly formulaic in terms of
instrumentation under increasing sales numbers due to a tendency to popularize
music styles with low variety and musicians with similar skills” (Barnes). With
that being said, new music is not always entirely authentic sound; sampling
plays a large part in re-vamping from the original music. Many genres and subgenres
sing comparable topics and choice words relevant to the generation. Music has
evolved in ways we might have not expected, “The Analysis of the Last 50 Years
of Pop Music Reveals Just How Much America Has Changed” by Shane Snow, takes a
similar, though contrasting outlook on a subject much like Barnes’s. Snow focuses
on the lyrical content by representation of statistics and bar graphs, Snow
then reflects on studies done on music. “Popular subject matter seems to have
shifted from simply happy to a mix of upbeat and dark-partying, lusting,
loving, and living and losing. It’s the same stuff really, but with a little
more specificity” (Snow). As opinionated as Snow comes across, he offers some
insight pictorially with various graphs. These authors analyze quite similar
topics however Snow centers substantially on logos and pathos, as Barnes is
more in depth with his ethos and logos.

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            Shane Snow opens his text with
referencing a strange memory saying- “You can learn a lot about someone from
the reading material atop his or her toilet.” His quirky intro shows how
lighthearted, interesting, and most importantly how credible this article might
be. It’s clear within the second paragraph Snow gears his text to millennials,
and he corrects himself referring to a smartphone, rather than reading
material. Shane is inclined to write this article through Kairos, and educate
young people to improve music culture. Younger people are more inclined to
relate to an article such as Snows, he claims, “I teased my parents about their
disco until one day all my Green Day and Good Charlotte sounded dated in my
headphones.” I entirely relate to this, since I’ve always given my mother a
hard time when she plays her underground club disco music- which is on a whole
other level of strange. Music culture has somewhat evolved but hasn’t been very
tasteful within the past few decades. As for lyrics go it’s a monotonous recycling
of prior generations sound, Snow explains “The lyrics we mouthed, the artists
we worshipped, the genres we bumped were all evidence of society sliding into
the sewer.” Although this negative outlook may reign true to current societal
behaviors of millennials- who are ‘trapping’ or exploiting themselves. The
Kairos given the year of early 2015, when the text was published, found the
world in some of the hottest and coldest temperatures. According to the
National Centers for Environmental Information, “The global temperatures in
2015 were strongly influenced by strong El Niño conditional that developed
during the year.” Overall 2015 was a whirlwind for many people climate wise but
also musically-given the fact that both Snow and Barnes’s articles were published
within that year.

            Before scanning through the graphs
and data Shane came across, I found it intriguing how he collected his data. “I
recently decided to map our “decay” through samples of popular music from the
last six decades. I grabbed Billboard’s top 10 song of the third week of April
every 10 years since 1965, and analyzed them.” 
It was quite a random selection of month to years, although it was quite
extensive in comparison to Barnes’s reference to current hit songs. From 1965’s
Freddie And the Dreamers to 2015’s Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars it seems that
iconic truly talented artists aren’t popularized in more current generations. Narrowly
talented artists like Fetty Wap and Flo Rida were featured in the top 10 of
2015. The random reference to the Billboard charts throughout the years offers
insight to truly how downhill our music culture has gone. As a listener of many
genres of underground music predominantly on the interface Soundcloud, I find
the generally popular and so called ‘current music’ doesn’t often adhere to my
liking. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that some of the featured songs on these
charts aren’t catchy; I grew up with this music and some of it is connected to
precious memories of my childhood. If the charts weren’t enough evidence in the
change in music, Snow referenced some compilations of popular lyrics that top
artists sang. Just reviewing the lyrics, there are a vast assortment of
recycled words, some change is shown in the emotions we resonated with through
the years, but a majority of it is consistent. Shane’s claim is further backed
by the clear focus on repetitiveness in sound and lyrical content, “It looks
like top artists of the ’60s and ’70s used a lot of typical poetry
vocab-literal lyrics like ‘love’. And, apparently, in the ’80s we were obsessed
with songs about ‘the night’. In the ’90s with the rise of hip-hop and R
we get more diversity of vocabulary and topics.” Hip-hop culture as a whole has
allowed the lyrical content in popular music to be diversified. The ’90s was a
prime time for artistically unique artists and one hit wonders, who’s sound
will be reflected on within mostly my generation. However, with that according
to Snow’s studies it seems as though our lyrics got increasingly more
depressive, morbid along with a spike in drug, violence, and profanity rising
throughout 1995-2015.

            As for an up to date Kairos
technological outlook for 2018, in an article by Darshan Kaler, “Eight Breaking
Changes Impacting Music Brands in 2018.”

 

            In the text by Tom Barnes, he
incorporates an interactive element to the readers by including YouTube videos
with associated artists he wrote about. Barnes discusses various mainstream and
well-known artists, and why we popularize music that all sounds the same. Throughout
the article Barnes emphasized how he wants listeners to evoke more of an
artistic taste to music and create a better space for music culture. Barnes
provided extensive evidence for research and studies done on music, which made
the article more credible. Studies he credited include Atlantic and University of Vienna.
These sources made the text a well-rounded and unbiased article since Atlantic is a popular news source, while
University of Vienna is a credible
school in Austria. Since the overall topic is hit pop music, the main audience
would be listeners of the music, and people concerned about today’s music
culture. It’s likely the media would engage or comment on topics like this one,
and Snows; texts such as these provoke a larger conversation in music culture and
sales. Even though both articles were posted in 2015, the Kairos give reason as
to why these authors posted the photos and videos they did. Taylor Swift,
pictured in both articles by Barnes and Snow, depict the popularity of this
particular artist at the time- and is rhetorically informing that most of
Swift’s music indeed sounds the same. Not to mention, artists like Megan
Trainor, along with contrasting pop-folk favorites -Mumford & Sons and
Lumineers are referenced in Barnes’s text. This article offers only some musical
dimension from the time being in comparison to Snow’s.  

            The textual space of a website is
unlike a text on physical paper, as for my analysis I am referring to Snows
article on paper, whereas Barnes through my computer. Although Snows physical
article is easier to flip through; Barnes has several videos that relate to the
Kairos, as well as appealing to pathos through the fans of artists who were
posted. For myself personally I can relate more to Shane Snow’s text more so. He
references more artists and commentary I, and a greater extent of millennials
my age would relate to.

           

 

           

 

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