By Colton Cary
It was a typical Monday afternoon for me. I was at the library, listening to music and working on homework (yeah, right), when Spotify Radio threw “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas at me. As I jammed out to the song, I questioned myself as to how long it had been since I had last heard it. Three months? Six months? A year? Maybe even two years?
It was only then that I realized something startling: a song that only four years ago stayed at number one longer than any other song that year was now one that I no longer remembered.
Even more startling to me was this: I really enjoyed this song when it came out, and now I didn’t even care about it anymore.
I guarantee that this has happened to all of us at least once. We heard a song on the radio for the first time, and we couldn’t get enough of it. We listened to it all day, every day. We thought we would never want the song to lose its popularity…and then, as quickly as the fad started, it ended.
Only two months later, the song we were addicted to is now bland, boring and unoriginal. We have already moved on to the next trendy tune, which will undoubtedly also quickly lose its popularity. It’s a never-ending cycle that leaves us always wanting more from what we listen to.
This fact is an important one for us in recognizing some of the values of American society today. The typical 20th century American is both a consumer and a materialist. Not only is our economy driven by purchasing goods and services in ever-growing amounts, but because of it, the people living under this economy have developed an extremely excessive desire to consume as many goods as possible.
Because music producers and other important players in the music industry today have picked up on this obsession, almost all the music released today is specifically composed to sell records quickly and for a short period of time.
Another essential factor to consider is that music is no longer perfected. The reason why composers of classical music from, say, the 18th century, such as J.S. Bach, have endured is that Bach was a master of taking everything that already existed in music and making it sound as beautiful as he could. In the world of music today, a world that is dominated by the price tag, producers will only release the music that they know will sell.
Since Bach was motivated by bringing glory to God in his compositions, it didn’t really matter to him to be the most well-known musician of the 1700s. His sole desire was to make God’s gift of music sound as pure as he could. That is why even today Americans are able to appreciate the amount of talent and skill Bach had. How many modern pop artists will be remembered the same way a few hundred years from now?
And that’s the sad truth. The songs on modern top charts, though they are motivated by the desire for fame, will not be remembered in a hundred years. This is our culture; a culture of short attention spans, wanting to consume as much as possible in as little time as possible. No, music doesn’t endure in our age. And so I urge that when it comes to music, and to all aspects of our culture that make us unique and make us human, we forget consumerism, stop and smell the roses and, ultimately, glorify God.