Published on January 9th, 2017 | by Alan Cross5
Has This Generation Given Up (or Unable to) Write Decent Lyrics?
I wish I could remember where I read this so I could give the author credit: “Every generation has the biological right to believe that the music of their youth is the greatest music ever made.” Extrapolation of that sentiment leads to “What’s wrong with today’s kids? Their music is shit. It was so much better in my day. What happened to music?”
This idea is hardly new. I quote Frank Sinatra from 1957:
Rock and roll is the most brutal, ugly, desperately vicious form of expression it has been my displeasure to hear. Rock’n’roll smells phony and false. It is sung, played and written for the most part by cretinous goons, and by means of its almost imbecilic reiteration, and sly, lewd–in fact, plain dirty–lyrics…it manages to be the martial music of every sideburned delinquent on the face of the earth.
Baby Boomers can be just as snobby when it comes to comparing the music of their day with what the kids are into now. But do they (and fans of older music) actually have a point? Check out this post at ScoopWhoop.com and tell me what you think.
Let’s begin with excerpts of 3 songs from the 60s and 70s.
“The Times They Are A-Changin'” by Bob Dylan (1964)
Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’
“Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd (1975)
Heaven from Hell,
Blue sky’s from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?
Endless rain into a paper cup
They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe.
Pools of sorrow waves of joy
Are drifting through my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me.
And to make my point, here are excerpts from 3 songs from 2016.
“Closer” by The Chainsmokers
So baby pull me closer in the backseat of your Rover
That I know you can’t afford
Bite that tattoo on your shoulder
Pull the sheets right off the corner
Of the mattress that you stole
From your roommate back in Boulder
We ain’t ever getting older
“No” by Meghan Trainor
My name is “No”
My sign is “No”
My number is “No”
You need to let it go
You need to let it go
Need to let it go
“Nah” to the “Ah” to the “No”, “No”, “No”
“Work” by Rihanna feat. Drake
Work, work, work, work, work, work
You see me I be work, work, work, work, work, work
You see me do me dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt
There’s something ’bout that work, work, work, work, work, work
When you a gon’ learn, learn, learn, learn, learn, learn
Me na care if me tired, tired, tired, tired, tired, tired
Great music, as we knew it, is dead. Its soul rests within a minority of millennials, still recovering from the loss of an iconic era. What you read above goes beyond lyrical comparison. Do I need to elaborate the difference? That stark contrast is the unfortunate reality of today’s music scene. And do I believe that this evolution is for the greater good? Hell no.
Since childhood, music has been of paramount importance in my life. It has always been, and will always be, essential for my survival. Calling it ‘entertainment’ would be trivialising its impact; I lived it, soaking in every note, every chorus till it was embedded in my memory forever. I remember how I’d travel to the other side of town to buy new music as a young teenager and return with loads of cassettes. Those were defining moments for me.
Lyrics inspired me to write, and rhythms harmonised my thoughts. I grew up listening to profound creations by songwriters who went down in history as some of the greatest contributors to the world of artistry.
Bob Dylan recently won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The unthinkable finally happened. Who could’ve imagined that songs alone could fetch such an honour?
But times they have a changed. The breed of musical geniuses is now extinct. Over the years, new gimmicks have replaced old methods of artistry. I grieve over what’s lost and what’s to come. The essence of creativity has faded away. Real talent is hard to find. Lyrics aren’t poetic or hard-hitting anymore; they’re nonsensical, shallow, and often derogatory, objectifying rants, targeted at audiences who don’t know any better.