When he paraded onstage, everybody screamed with passion. When the guitar started playing the familiar riff, the bodies in the crowd shimmied and swayed. The drums released energy and vibrated the floor. The bass set in the funk, and the singer belted out his lyrics, as the fans did, too.
It was the Red Hot Chili Peppers. My seat only twelve rows back, barely ten yards from the stage. The concert was unlike any other I had been to. The band bonded with the audience. They were genuine, the real deal. The people around me were polite, giving me high fives and offering me beer (even though I declined). It was unlike any other concert I’d seen because it was the only classic rock concert I experienced.
The difference between pop music produced today versus pop music produced in the ‘60s through the ‘90s is true sound, poetic lyrics, and a real passion for the music, not the money. Although there is modern music I enjoy, such as folk/indie bands and even synthpop, the sound of music and the ideology of music have evolved. Rather than the raw voice of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, today’s most famous musicians are auto-tuned, bubble-gummy, and emotionless.
It seems the year of 1997 was the turning point. In 1996 the top selling album of the year was Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill,” and in 1997 it was the Spice Girls’ album “Spice” (apparently creativity in album titling was going down the drain too). It devolved into the empty lyrics of Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj. Music went from having a shelf life of thirty plus years to having the shelf life of a Gillette razor. The art of music doesn’t exist with the famous record labels. The modern music worth listening to will be played in basements rather than the radio, where it deserves to be.
Lyrics are a big contribution to the change. In the Rolling Stone’s 1967 song “Sing this All Together” Mick Jagger sings, “Why don’t we sing this all together? Open our heads, let the pictures come, and if we all close our eyes together, then we will see where we all come from.”
In comparison, Big Sean raps in the 2012 song “Mercy”: “Drop it to the floor, make that ass shake. Whoa make the ground move, that’s an ass quake. Built a house up on that ass, that’s an ass state. Roll my weed on it, that’s an ass tray.” Unfortunately, most teenagers today know the words to “Mercy” and probably have never heard “Sing this All Together.”
Although the music industry is headed for the worst, I’m grateful to live in this era where there’s so much music to discover. I’m grateful for the iPod I can carry all my music on. I’m grateful for the radio in my car. I just wish I could turn on the radio and hear bona fide, down to earth, wholesome music.