The Crimson White

Pop music is becoming more meaningful

Sabrina Snowberger, Staff Columnist

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When you think of the year 2010, you may think of graphic tees from Aeropostale, middle school awkwardness and braces. I, on the other hand, feel a warm wave of nostalgia, because the summers leading up to and following 2010 have yielded some of the most iconic pop music of all time.

For several consecutive summers, charts were topped by musicians like Katy Perry and The Black Eyed Peas. Perry had an impressive streak of popularity, creating simple yet fun summer songs that topped the Billboard charts for five consecutive summers, beginning with “I Kissed a Girl” in 2008 and ending with “Wide Awake” in 2012.

For these blissful summers that took place during my formative years, the Top Ten songs were all my friends and I listened to, making artists like Perry hugely successful. As I look back fondly on the music of my middle and high school summers, I wonder: have I changed or has the music industry changed?

For example, last summer, the Billboard Top Ten included songs by Justin Bieber, DJ Khaled, Ed Sheeran, Kendrick Lamar and Post Malone. While hip-hop songs have certainly been chart-toppers for many years, it seems as if true bubblegum pop is being ushered out and more meaningful, but equally catchy, music is taking its place.

As of last August, nine of the ten songs on the top charts are either hip-hop or R&B. “Girls Like You” by Maroon 5 is sitting at number two, and I have to wonder if the song would be doing as well if it did not feature Cardi B. On the other hand, Ariana Grande’s brand new pop album, “Sweetener,” only has two songs in the top 50. Other pop artists like Taylor Swift used to dominate pop radio stations, but nobody is talking about Swift’s newest album “Reputation.” Meanwhile, videos of teens dancing to Drake’s hit “In My Feelings” have gone viral on social media platforms like Twitter.

Obviously, the giants of the music industry aim to make hits, and therefore make money. It seems to me the changes that have affected the mainstream music industry are the result of artists attempting to connect more personally with their listeners. For example, Lamar, who topped the charts last summer, is known for his incredible lyricism that touches on real-life issues, like the fakeness of social media and tabloids, crime and poverty.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved listening to light, upbeat songs by Lady Gaga, Perry and Pitbull, but kids today have near-universal access to social media and are able to follow current events with ease. The wealth of information about our nation and the world that is available to young people today combined with easy access to music streaming services create the perfect storm, inspiring major artists to dig deeper with their lyrics. In our current political and social climate, it would be irresponsible if popular musicians didn’t use their voices to spread awareness about more difficult topics that hit close to home for many Americans.

Whenever I want to dance with my friends or belt out easy-to-remember lyrics while I’m cleaning my room, I know I’ll always be able to turn on my playlist of songs from the early 2010s. But as for today, I’m thankful and excited to see the music industry changing its tune, no pun intended. I look forward to experiencing the ideas brought forth by newly popularized artists who create meaningful and interesting content in genres other than pop.

 

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Pop music is becoming more meaningful