Monthly Archives: September 2007

The Dumbing Down of Music

I’ve been a music connoisseur/snob for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid I watched my father ignore the family, sit in a corner with his headphones on, close his eyes & wish he was still that long haired, guitar playing, hippie from his youth. I think that’s where I get my love of music from. Consequently, I probably get my fear of commitment from that as well, but that’s for another article. I don’t just love the music, I love the lyrics as well. I like to search for the deeper meaning of songs. How they can pertain to my life. How I can manifest some sort of delusional idea as to what the writer was trying to say.

Like what did Procol Harum mean in, “Whiter Shade of Pale” when they so eloquently, “Skipped the light fandango”? Now, I have never skipped the light fandango, at least not that I know of, I barely have ever skipped. However, it does make one think, whatever your mental capacity may be & conjures up images of a needle & perhaps a spoon or a tab of some kind.

Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Ryan Adams, Jenny Lewis are all examples of artists who have something to say. I wonder if generation Y even cares. If you listen to some of the music that is popular today you’ll know exactly what I mean. For example, here’s an enlightening passage from Soulja Boy (notice the use of Soul, I’m gonna assume it’s cause in some way he is a soulful character), who has the 1 song on I-Tunes as this is written:

Soulja boy up in it

Watch me crank it

Watch me roll

Watch me crank dat Soulja boy

Then Superman dat

Um excuse me? Yes, I’ll have a drum machine with a side of illiteracy please. What the fuck is this? Helen Keller spoke better English than this guy. If you read the lyrics you’ll see the aforementioned Soulja Boy reference himself more than 25 times. Imagine me writing an article and saying, “Matty D’s gonna write the shit out of this piece here”, over and over again. Rock musicians don’t do this. Ever hear Led Zeppelin reference themselves in a song in the third person? Nirvana? The Beatles? Anybody w/ a guitar? I understand illiteracy is a huge problem in this country & obviously it isn’t the end all be all because it’s evident you can still be a rapper if you’re illiterate.

Lyrics used to be powerful. Even in hip-hop. Public Enemy spoke of the oppression of black Americans. Here’s a verse from their Fight the Power single:

While the Black bands sweatin’

And the rhythm rhymes rollin’

Got to give us what we want

Gotta give us what we need

Our freedom of speech is freedom or death

We got to fight the powers that be

Lemme hear you say

Fight the power

While I obviously can’t relate to the plight of the black man, the lyrics are coherent and meaningful. Then you hear Lenny Kravitz’s singing “Fly Away”:

Let’s go & see the stars

The milky way & even Mars

Where it could just be ours

Let’s fade into the sun

Let your spirit fly

Where we are one

Just for a little fun

This is the talk of a terrorist. He’s talking about flying into the sun & that being fun. What is fun about a searing, burning death? I think the underlying theme here is if you listen to Lenny Kravitz then the terrorist’s win.

We’re dumbing down America with the crap we let our kids fill their heads with. I could care less about violence, cussing, talk of ritualistic and habitual drug use in lyrics. I just want them to be smart or at least somewhat coherent. Is that too much to ask? There are plenty of so-called intelligent lyricists that suck really hard (TV on the Radio comes to mind), but at least they’re saying something.

Test scores are at an all time low, violence at an all time high (this probably not true, but what is these days?) & it’s because of stupidity. That’s not all due to moronic lyrics, but does Soulja Boy help things out with lyrics like:

Then watch me crank dat Robocop

Super Fresh now watch me jock

Jocking on them Haterz(sp?) man

When I do dat Soulja Boy

I lean to the left & crank Dat dance

My IQ just plummeted 35 points by typing that verse. I’m bordering on mental retardation & the only thing that can save me is no more Soulja Boy or a lobotomy. I’m not one of these old guys who thinks all modern music blows and is stuck in the past, but I will say that if you want to hear smart, honest, real music then turn off your radios. Pay no attention to what the corporate douche bags would have you listen to, to line their pockets. Actively seek out music that is great, revolutionary, speaks to you & experience something better than Soulja Boy.