'Here to stay' music gone away
With an ever-developing array of production agents, music in recent times has become simply a tool for fiscal craftsmanship. The ideas of talent and the capacity for making great music have been substituted by dollar bills and technology. This technology brings about a level of "musicians" who believe that sub-average quality of artistry along with a well-padded contract with Jay-Z would produce a lasting print on human culture. While these laurels of capitalism easily climb contemporary charts, I doubt that they are here to stay.
The lack of brilliance in the music culture today not only serves to ruin the idea of "here-to-stay" artists, but also furthers the degradation of future masters of musical performance. The likes of Beyonce Knowles, Lil' Wayne and Lady Gaga, while being talented on stage, lack the creative genius required to create lasting masterpieces. Their songs, addressing nothing of substance, are mirror images of each other, and as one goes down the line one would notice this brand of plagiarism. Perhaps artists/producers such as Timbaland have a trace of talent from the past, but the general array of performers simply stray from that category.
While this music might be ideal for University frat parties due to its consistent — and, honestly, unoriginal — beat, it does not warrant any staying power. I might polarize myself from the majority of my classmates, as I would go as far as to say that such music may simply be created for the plethora of college students who cannot dance. In the light of that claim, which would probably keep me out of most of said parties, these artists make some pretty good business. With the prospects of new airplanes or longer yachts, P. Diddy might have to produce, co-produce or feature in twice as many hits. Why stop there? Sean John, Diddy's clothing line, might serve to bring in more money if the records did not sell as well as he predicted. The artist should not have to wait to buy the airplane, rather the airplane must be available as soon as Diddy, Knowles or Kanye West have gained enough fame or infamy to purchase this status of exclusivity. It is as if music has become nothing more than a disposable commodity.
"I've never met anyone that works harder than me in my industry," Knowles said in Elle. Why, might we ask, does she not produce music of greater quality? The idea of money must be more powerful than the prospect of cultural merit. How far does that go? Why does a name mean more than the work of the artist her/himself? These performers get paid every time their songs come on the radio; they make money every time their name gets mentioned by a TV persona. A movie might have to use a logo from the artist's clothing line, and surely, simply not to get sued, they pay the celebrity a royalty. That is what the music industry has become. The face of a modern musician becomes larger than the performance. What does that say about our society and our tendencies toward music?
West, the smartest man in music, is a curious case in this treatise on music culture. While his albums sell millions of copies and are actually quite praised for being different, it must be said that he, as much as anyone else, focuses on the profit. He is, however, another case of the persona overshadowing the work. His tendencies to speak his mind seem to be methods of appearing in the spotlight more often and for more absurd reasons. After all, the spectacular sells, and West has quite the tendency to be just that.
The "greats" of music from the past, while perhaps also concerned with money, produced a much more long-lasting tradition of good music. Concerts such as those performed by Pink Floyd, The Beatles and The Kinks were unaided by contemporary feats of technology, yet they involved a greater deal of artistic genius. After all, the children of our generation would know and remember these "greats," while it is highly doubtful that contemporary businessmen and artists would be mentioned twice.
As long as they depend on technological aides, Fall Out Boy and the rest would never be considered greats or be at all memorable for generations to come. In my opinion, that is what warrants merit and praise, rather than the fantastic sums of money being spent and made by the artists of today. This mixed agenda on the part of the "artists" will unquestionably result in a loss of most of today's music. Why not? If one were to follow the radio nowadays, he or she would note that very few songs stay on for longer than several weeks as they are replaced by newer, more, even though just as shortly, popular pieces.
Perhaps this signifies the decline of cultural development, or it is just a low point in artistic genius. I always thought they were one and the same. The consumeristic and capitalistic qualities of modern generations might be the cause for this downfall in music, or perhaps it is simply natural for humanity to decline and fall. Many a civilization have done it.
Aleksi Tzatzev is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in English and political science. His column "Dadaistic Anecdotes" runs on alternate Mondays.