Monday, April 8, 2013

Where did the music go?

I remember the days when being in the car for a short drive meant listening to music so good I sung out my lungs on the drive. That was such a long time ago, because gradually the state of the music changed. While the beats made me want to move my feet and dance, my brain refused to communicate to my mouth to sing along to the lyrics because singing along meant I agreed with these lyrics, some of which were down right degrading and most often misogynistic.

Initially lyrics that were foul were often sung by male artists, but over time, female artists wanted a share of the foul lyric pie. Oddly enough though, they have managed to compete with their male counterparts and are holding their end in that regard. On a recent trip to Jamaica, as our tour guide drove us from Negril to Savannah La-Mar, we chatted about the latest songs on Jamaican airwaves and I was able to sample some. While I enjoyed the male artists, I wanted to hear what the females had to sing. Cue in Lady Saw one of the hottest females on the Jamaican pop scene. I could only stomach all of ten seconds as every other lyric heralded the virtues of her lady parts.

On my return back to the states, I was met with the same familiar misogynistic lyrics. But this time, the buzz was about a certain singer who might have performed at the inauguration of the President. The lyrics were an anthem asking female detractors to pay homage. If only the lyrics asked for a curtsey it would have been somewhat palatable, but then the lyrics and the name of the song were a cruel reference to detractors who were referred to as bitches and asked to bow down. The defense has been that the song is a part of a much bigger production. However, why release a degrading sound bite for sensationalism sake? Isn't there enough negativity on the air waves already.

It seems as though one female singer asking bitches to bow wasn't enough because soon enough the males had to seize the crown and show who was boss in the art of denigration. Enter in Rick Ross, singing the praises of date rape, followed by a half-baked apology after pressure from women's groups mounted. Since when do we glorify rape and make a mockery of sexual assault and violence against women? Maybe since the Constitutional Convention and the passing of a certain amendment protecting artistic freedom. Just maybe.

My commute is totally different now. Gone are the days of listening to music in the car. Sure, there are good songs on the airwaves but I'd rather listen to the news these days. The good songs are few and far between. Oftentimes on radio stations, the order is one really decent song and then a lineup of trash. My salvation comes in switching to an oldies station where I can be guaranteed that Earth, Wind and Fire will not be glorifying rape or Gladys Knight singing unashamedly about the powers of her lady parts.

Makes me wonder what the next generation will listen to. The airwaves are full of trash these days, but there's still hope. Try Adele, Bruno Mars, Pink, or maybe Amy Winehouse sometimes. While these artists may have some lyrics that are not all the way Kosher all the time, they are true artists with undeniable vocal talent something most other misogynists do not have or ever will.