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Pop Muzik

There's something amiss with pop music fans these days. I don't mean that they're fans of pop music, more so that they seem to be fans of old pop music. This, in and of itself, isn't a bad thing per se, but it is a situation fairly unique to the last 45-50 years of popular music. And, with the current crop of singer/songwriter output being at such a low mark of quality, I do wonder if our culture's tendency to cling to the music makers of the past is perhaps harming the ability to progress in a new, even better direction?

Let us first consider some examples of what I'm referring to by folks being fans of "old" pop music. It is true that many of today's younger generation still idolize musicians who are, frankly, old enough to be their grandparents. Once again, there's nothing wrong with this in principle, but it does lead one to wonder if it stymies further music growth. Are we so stuck in reveling in the past that we hamper our ability to appreciate and better discern what is in the present?

Consider The Beatles. The Rolling Stones. Bob Marley. Jimi Hendrix. These are but a few of the musical artists from the 1960s and '70s that we see represented in popular culture. Dance artists produce remix albums of Marley tracks. Young folks wear t-shirts adorned with the image of Hendrix. Today's youth jams to The Rolling Stones. Show's like American Idol, which features some fairly young contestants, devote entire episodes to singing Beatles songs. And when a pop group that hadn't put out a new studio album in four decades finally made it onto iTunes, it was front-page news.

This all seems odd to me because, historically, it simply didn't seem to have existed with prior generations. Were the youth of the 1960s rocking out to Kate Smith recordings? Did they walk around wearing Jimmy Durante t-shirts? Did they sit back and soak-up the lush melodies of Beethoven (ok, that last one hasn't really been done by any younger generation since, well, the early 19th century, but you get my point). This sort of cross-generational worship is a fairly recent occurrence, for better or worse.

I should be clear that I have nothing against the aforementioned artists (well, except for The Rolling Stones. I mean, c'mon). They have earned their place as pop music icons. And I think it's good that younger generation can appreciate what has come before them. But I guess my two primary concerns are: 1) why has it been such a fairly recent phenomenon, and 2) is it something that can perhaps inhibit the potential growth of current popular music?


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