Before I start my little rant, let me first explain a few things: I have nothing against this genre of music – in fact, I’m all for it – this is mainly just an observation… a concerned observation. The artists that I’m writing about are just examples; again, no underlying meanings. The songs are picked fairly randomly and I’m not suggesting that they are the standard of their time. If you are a ‘die-hard fan’ of any of the singers in bold below and don’t want to read anything remotely negative about them, stop reading now. Although it’s not all bad, I promise.
Now that’s settled, I’ll get to the point: what has happened to pop music?
Pop music had been entertaining and inspiring artists and audiences alike. When lyrics from all genres held powerful meanings and the music reflected that.
Diana Ross and Lionel Richie’s ‘Endless love’ in 1981:
‘And I, I want to share all my love with you.
No one else will do’.
Guess I don’t really need to explain this song.
Survivor’s 1986 hit with ‘Eye of the Tiger’:
‘Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past.
You must fight just to keep them alive’.
About holding onto your dreams, remembering where you started before success gets to your head.
Michael Jackson’s ‘Black or White’ in 1991:
‘And I told about equality,
and it’s true either you’re wrong or you’re right’.
About equality and racial belonging.
You’ve got The Fugees in 1996 with their cover of ‘Killing Me Softly’:
‘Strumming my pain with his fingers
(one time, one time)
singing my life with his words’ .
All about emotions, and the soul of a song.
Skip to the present and you’ve got:
Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2012 hit ‘Call Me Maybe’:
‘Your stare was holding.
Ripped jeans skin was showing’.
About a girl who wants a guy to call her (holding what?).
Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj with ‘Bang Bang’ in 2014:
‘She got a body like an hourglass,
but I can give it to you all the time’.
Why one woman is better than the other.
Calvin Harris and Rihanna’s 2016 hit ‘This Is What You Came For’:
‘Baby, this is what you came for.
Lightning strikes every time she moves’.
Someone went to a party and found Rihanna dancing and that’s what they went there for (I guess).
I’ve tried my best and have selected what I personally think are one of the best lyrics in each song, but there is a clear difference in the tone and message in pop songs over the years and I’m concerned that once artists get further along into their music careers, they will stop focussing on lyrics and more on ‘what sells’ and they should be the same thing. You may not agree with my examples, but I know that there are singers like Lady Gaga, Sia, Adele, Hozier, etc. who are still creating inspirational lyrics but I am concerned that in a decade it won’t be the same. I have purposefully left out Beyoncé because it hurts too much to see her move from ‘ Survivor’ and ‘Independent Woman’ to ‘7/11’ and ‘Tell Em Boy Bye’ ( I know the song’s called ‘Sorry’ but that phrase has been in my head for so long that this was the only way to remove, sorry).
Leave a comment and tell me your thoughts!