The amount of times a radio listener asks “Wait, what did he say?” about the lyrics of a hit song is increasing everyday. Most of the time the listener is attempting to decipher the awful mumble rap the artist murmurs over a generic beat. But what the listener should really be deciphering is how a song that lacks any artistry is topping charts.
Whatever the artist’s intention is with their music, it cannot be considered art unless it sends a message. Artistic freedom comes with a certain level of responsibility. Artists should not release catchy songs to bore its chorus deep into the brains of radio listeners, but to say something meaningful.
This is not to say “fun” songs do not have their place. They do. Although, these songs and the artists who create them, should not be praised for getting audiences to hum along and spend money on iTunes or garner the most plays on Spotify. That would be like praising Apple for manufacturing yet another generation of the iPhone.
It is not revolutionary, new or of importance, it is just good business. A great distinction can be seen in artists who use their platform to talk about social issues and those who avoid serious topics at all costs. By writing song after song about break-ups or tiffs with other artists to maintain relevance and garner top charting hits, singers degrade their own art form.
Essentially, not every artist can be Kendrick Lamar and discuss social, political and racial inequality, but not every artist should be Taylor Swift with synthetic cookie cutter songs about ex-boyfriends. Problems arise when fluff is used as a means to avoid discussing real issues, while still reaching ultimate popularity with the masses.
Songs with no message superseding ones that have the potential of making individuals think deeper ultimately undermines the idea of “art” itself. The songs and artists that deserve this attention and acclaim are often skipped over without a second listen. It makes a listener wonder if it is the audience who is to blame for passively allowing uninspired pieces to make it to the top of the charts. Or if it is the artists who should create better work.
Truthfully, both sides are at fault. Conscious consumerism does not only apply to big brand names purchased in the supermarket, but to the actual names of artists audiences give attention to. By listening to music that essentially says nothing like how cool tractors and beer are, how hot the guy at a party is or how unbelievably rich the artist is, audiences actively endorse music that does not have a message.
Unfortunately, it seems like our generation only listens to music that hypes people up for beer pong, rather than saying anything impactful. When audiences demand more from the artists they devote their listening time to, artists must face the music and produce better work.