Comparing Classics. Despite criticisms, this generation of music is no more flawed than that of previous generations.



The Grammys are here again. Held on Feb. 15, it’s a great time for audiophiles like me to celebrate music and the people who create it and make my own judgements on the songs and artists on the nominees’ lists. However, for many, the Grammys also provide an ample opportunity to unfairly criticize modern music.

It’s an argument we have all heard before–nothing on the radio is good anymore compared to musical greats of the past. Modern artists like Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber show the loss of meaning in music.

And while, yes, Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber do not stand a chance against artists like The Beatles or Michael Jackson, I find most of these criticisms ignore truly great modern music. Not all modern music is shallow, just like not all classics are deep.

Consider a recent winner of the Grammy Award for Song of the Year. In 2014, Ella Yelich-O’Connor, better known by her stage name Lorde, took home the Grammy for her hit “Royals,” an impressive feat for the then 17-year-old. She said in a 2013 VH1 interview the song was a criticism of the excessive culture of the rich and famous, inspired by her own fascination with the lives of royalty. The song, praised for its mature lyrics, spent nine weeks on top of the Billboard Top 100.

Or consider a current contender for the Grammys. Not only has “Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd been nominated for two Grammys this year—Record of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance—but Rolling Stone has named it the best song of 2015, praising it for its Michael Jackson-esque pop feel and its meaning, simultaneously a love song and a commentary on the negative effects of drug use.

Just as some modern music is deep, some classics are not. How about The Beatles’ “She Loves You,” a simple, upbeat pop tune with a rather repetitive chorus? Or how about Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel,” another cutesy love song? Neither of these songs are particularly meaningful, yet they don’t take away from the cultural significance of the artists, or the generations, who created them. Shallow music is not necessarily bad music. Sometimes we need a song to dance to, to help us forget our worries and be happy.

No generation of music is perfect. All have their share of shallow and deep songs, and the modern generation of music is no different. So, as we approach the Grammys this year, let’s celebrate great music, instead of focusing on the bad.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Gillian Paxton at [email protected]