My Writing: Pop Music Essay, Research Paper
The life of an adolescent varies from day to day. For every good thing, most likely there is a bad thing. This doesn’t always happen, but this constant changing of moods can greatly affect the stress one feels. Adolescents will look for some form of relief, this often being music. Turning on the radio while doing homework can help people stay relaxed and get through an assignment. Drifting off for thirty minutes while you listen to your favorite band on a pair of headphones can be the cure also. It is not what an individual turns on that matters, as long as it is what they like. Not everyone is going to listen to Top 40 music, but a majority will so we focus on the top five songs. The top five songs of today do not differ that much thematically from when I was fourteen with the most common theme being love.
The re-invasion of pop music has brought out the theme of love and relationships even more so then ever. If a songwriter has “writer’s block”, then the simple solution is to write a love song. “All I want is you (Come over here baby). All I want is you (You make me go crazy)… I‘m gonna love you right…” (Aguilera), is part of the chorus to Christina Aguilera’s song “Come on Over”. The attraction to this song to girls is in thinking that they could be in the situation of the female character in the song, finding the perfect guy and spending time with him. For guys, the attraction comes because a beautiful girl is singing this and they can pretend that she is singing to them. Something similar is also found in the song “Doesn’t Really Matter” by Janet Jackson. In this song she is stating all the things she loves about a certain individual. She can live with his imperfections and doesn’t care what anyone else cares. “Doesn’t really matter what the eye is seeing. Cause I’m in love with the inner being. And it doesn’t really matter what they believe. What matters to me is you’re nutty, nutty, nutty for me.” (Janet Jackson) This song is good in that it is a love song unlike many out there today. In this song we see that the main character loves her man because of who he is. He isn’t perfect, and that is fine by her. Often in love songs, the “perfect” one is portrayed as someone who is perfect in one category, attractiveness. Many adolescents will look at attractiveness as the number one thing, so this song is good to have to show it isn’t always necessary. In 1994 the top two songs for the year also involved a theme of love and devotion. In the song, “I’ll Make Love to you” by Boyz II Men, we see the story of a man’s love for a woman. “I’ll make love to you, like you want me to. And hold you tight, baby all through the night.” (Boyz II Men) The song is about how the male in the song wants to give this woman one special night of what she wants. Everything that happens during the night has to be absolutely perfect. This song is not necessarily the best for adolescence to listen if they pick up on the theme of the song, but it is beautifully sung so it is something that will catch their ear. In the song, “I Swear” by All-4-One, we see the story of a man that is devoted to a woman no matter what. Through all the ups and downs of the relationship and over time, she can know that he will love and care for her always. “For better, for worse. Till Death do us part. I’ll love you. With every beat of my heart.” (All-4-One) Another good song for adolescents to pick up and at least know this theme for the future
Some other songs in the top five’s are from genres away from the typical “pop” song. These songs do deal with relationships also, but in a different demeanor then before. Matchbox twenty’s “Bent” tells the story of a man that is not perfect and is down on life at the moment. He looks for a certain person to help him but is afraid that he may end up making that person like himself in the end. “Can you help me I’m bent. I’m so scared that I’ll never, get put back together. You’re breaking me in, and this is how we will end, with you and me bent.” Adolescents are not likely to pick up this theme considering that it took me to actually analyze the lyrics with them in my face to get it. What they will like is the catchy sound, which in all honesty is what Matchbox twenty has been successful in doing, creating a catchy song and putting OK lyrics to it. A surprise song to Top 40 radio comes in 3 Doors Down’s “Kryptonite”. This is another song in which the theme isn’t going to be made apparent to an adolescent. The catch to this song is more of the harder edge rock that it is. The opening drum beat sucks you into the song and you don’t want to turn it off. It is something that can be classified as alternative, which is what an adolescent may want as an alternative to normal pop music. The central theme involves the ups and downs of a man and wondering if his woman will still be there in the end. We see this in the lyrics, “If I go crazy then will you still call me Superman. If I’m alive and well, will you be there holding my hand.”. (3 Doors Down) In 1994 we see another cross over from an acoustic folk rock song in Lisa Loeb’s Stay (I Missed You). The central idea to this song is the story of a woman and man that were in a relationship that is now over. The woman in the song wants the relationship still, but the man has left for good. We see this here, “So I turned the radio on, I turned the radio up, and this woman was singing my song: the lover’s in love, and the other’s run away, the lover is crying ‘cause the other won’t stay.”. (Lisa Loeb) Adolescents like this song because it is written and sung very well. The theme isn’t hard to understand and is something that you can picture as a sing-a-long.
The last of the songs can be viewed as outliers to the others because they don’t really fit into the same category. In 1994, Madonna released an album of ballads, much different then her normal pop songs. One of these songs, “I Remember”, still made its way to Top 40 radio. It is about the story of a child grown up now and the lessons that they have learned from a parent. The attraction to this song is the beautiful singing and lyrics and because it is Madonna. Adolescence will understand the theme, which is something that will help them become a better person. This is the chorus to the song, “And I’ll remember the love that you gave me, now that I’m standing on my own. I’ll remember the way that you changed me, I’ll remember”. (Madonna) The simple, catchy lyrics of Sheryl Crow’s “All I wanna do” is what attracts the listener to the song. It is a song for all ages, as anyone can say that “All I wanna do, is have some fun.”. (Sheryl Crow) That is what made this song successful and put Sheryl Crow on the map for future works. The R&B crossover into Top 40 hasn’t been as successful as of late, but one group, Destiny’s Child, has continued to produce hits. Their song, “Jumpin, Jumpin”, is not really the song for an adolescent teen to listen to lyrically though. It is about men and women not going out with their significant other, so they can meet up with each other at the club and dance together. It isn’t about specific people, just a general calling to all men and women to get out there and dance. We see this in the lyrics, “Ladies leave yo man at home, the club is full of ballas and they pockets full grown. And all you fellas leave yo girl with her friends, cause its 11:30 and the club is jumpin’ jumpin’“. (Destiny’s Child) This song seems more geared for the adults in there twenties that go out to the bars, but this song still does not have the best theme in the world. The attraction is the dance beat and sound of it.
We see the common themes of love and relationships making it into the top 5 all the time. Sex and Love sells, so we see the Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Backstreet Boys still existing today. These particular artists do not write their own songs, having professionals write them. I know that if my job were to write songs daily, most of my songs would end up being love songs, because it is the easiest thing to write. This in turn leads to what we hear on the radio today. Now this type of music is not my type at all, I actually used to despise it. I see through the beauty of all the “Britney Spears” wannabees out there today and see that it is fake. It wasn’t until I heard a quote from Carson Daly, the host of MTV’s daily Top 10 video countdown “Total Request Live” , that I realized that this pop music isn’t killing the music industry at all. He said something along the lines of, “as long as it is making the kids happy, let them listen to it.” My respect for him greatly improved and I see what he does on a daily basis as a good thing now because he is constantly with fans that are happy. “Total Request Live” comes on at 3:30 in the afternoon, about the perfect time for everyone to be home from school, sit in front of the TV and relax after a long day at school. It rejuvenates the body for the rest of the evening, allowing them to feel motivated to do their homework or various other chores. Fortunately, the music industry will never die. New trends and styles will begin, and adolescents will listen. They will enjoy. They will learn.