Catchy songs can live on

Jess Isgro

Not everything in life has to have a deep connotation, and popular music is no exception. Crafted for the sake of entertainment rather than for profound reflection, many of the songs we delight in hearing on the radio are anything but philosophical. And while some may wish they could hop in the car, turn on the radio and be overwhelmed with the reflective qualities of the latest hit, I personally find nothing wrong with the superficial nature of popular music.

The trend of “superficial” sentiments in music is not a new phenomenon. In reflecting upon the popular music from my childhood, I found nothing particularly insightful about the lyrics of AQUA’s “Barbie Girl,” Britney Spears’s “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” or even The Spice Girl’s “Spice Up Your Life.” These songs were written to make listeners happy. The repetitive nature, simple lyrics, and appealing melodies allowed listeners to move, dance and sing along. This has not changed much in today’s music. While it may be harder to keep up with Nicki Minaj’s fast-paced raps than it was to sing along to Britney’s hits, the basic concept is still the same: to create memorable songs that are as easy to remember as they are to adore.

Now, this is not to say that there aren’t chart-topping hits that are both popular and insightful. Take Adele, for starters. After listening to just a few measures of any of her hit songs, you can nearly touch the emotion she exudes. Her songs are filled with passion and depth. On the opposite end of the spectrum, one can find more recent singles, like Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe.” While you may throw jabs at the 26-year-old singer’s trivial sentiments, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who never saw the appeal of such a single. I personally find nothing wrong with these guilty-pleasure songs.

But I must admit that I sometimes wonder what I will tell my future grandchildren when they ask about my era’s “oldies but goodies.” There was once a time when popular music was more than just catchy melodies, when artists like Frank Sinatra topped the charts.  Our grandparents have the most elegant explanation of the music from their youth. The standardized music of our era– the songs that everyone knows, the songs that play daily are played daily on major radio stations – are much less elegant.

Yet we all have our own preferences outside of what the radio deems as popular hits. The solo artists, groups, and bands that we listen to on our laptops, see in concert, and discover online, are often more profound in their lyrics. Thus The way I see it, music today does not lack depth. Rather, we’ve subdivided music into the fun hits that we dance to with friends and the genuine pieces we value for their aural and emotional appeal. Sometimes these categories overlap, sometimes they don’t. Regardless, it is undeniable that there is a certain art to creating music that appeals to such a wide variety of people, is played at many vastly different events, and dominates the popular music scene.

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