Each generation is defined by its music. Whether it’s the swing feeling we get from the 20s’, the groovy vibes from the 70s’, or the punk attitude from the 90s’ the music is the greatest expression of the youth culture of the time. But is our generation’s music worthwhile? Is music today even worth a listen?
There are a great many of us who already have an answer for this question because we can develop our opinions on music in the time it takes Skrillex to drop the bass. I implore you to look a little deeper no matter what your immediate reaction is.
For those of us who would dismiss today’s music as ‘whiney crap’ or ‘a toolbox tumbling down a hill’, it is important to look at the who, what, and why of our generation. As far as the ‘who’ goes, you probably have grown ever more exhausted of hearing about Miley Cyrus stripping on stage or Justin Bieber spitting on his fans. The thing is, these musicians aren’t all about music. Yes, they do make music, but very little of all the news and publicity that covers them is about that. It is entertainment because Americans love to hate. We vilify people, glorify people, and adore people because it’s something to talk about. And as such, it has no place in measuring the quality of our music so much as modern entertainment, so I ask that you leave it out of your judgment.
The ‘what’ however is of great importance. The ‘what’ of our generation is mostly depicted as dub-step with its unending onslaught of noises that are on par to an ice machine crushing its contents , or hip-hop (pop) that has chorus’ so repetitive and easily stuck in the head you’ll believe that you’ve been possessed by an infant-obsessed spirit. A lot of our music is very good, but doesn’t get as much attention because they aren’t controversial. Mumford and Sons, Imagine Dragons and Jack Johnson are just a few examples of today’s great musicians that are overlooked by the average skeptic of music because they aren’t on the cover of the tabloid in the grocery line. Our generations ‘what’ is very diverse, and when examined beyond the initial and shocking artists that stand out, one can find much promise.
Now for the why; why is our music like it is? Simply because it both reflects and counters our modern identity. We listen to raunchy, fast-paced, material simply because it brings some controversy, and with it, energy that can be found lacking in our daily grind. It can also reflect the major, controversial, issues we face as a society, exemplified by songs such as Same Love by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, which is hands down the greatest expression of sympathy for the LGBT community to date.
Whether we like it or not, todays music will define our youth and times to subsequent generations. And while there is some crap to dig through, our music today is just as good as any others. Not every band is going to be a Led Zeppelin, but many can be for its time.