Music is a form of self expression. What you choose to pleasant your ears with is a choice that probably could define who you are or help people to understand you in a light that might not be easily achievable in other means. But what happens when music becomes a “business expression” instead. Evidently, we are in the midst of an era where we switch on the radio and all that could be heard is necessarily the “same” pieces of obnoxiously copyright not-controlled craps? Ouuh, it’s the PussyCatDolls, then there’s the PussyCatDolls and there’s…. the PussyCatDolls… again… All the DJ needs to do is record her voice and replay it over and over for you.
Okay, maybe not that bad. But if you have carefully scrutinized the music industry in recent years (both, locally and internationally) like I did when I’m supposed to be focusing more on my studies, then you’d probably detect the pattern of similar sounds ruling the airwaves. Everybody wants the sure hit and subscribe to a sure-hit music writer. Let me take an example from the R&B and Hip Hop genre. First there was the Dr. Dre fever, then we moved on to N.E.R.D or else known as the Neptunes or what is essentially largely known ONLY as Pharrell Williams before briefly locking our eyes on Will.I.Am of BEP and continuing the trend is the Kanye West phenomenon with the shrilly high pitched modified backing vocals. Now, everyone wants their first single to be penned by Timbaland, thanks to the massive and presumably then-innovative hits collaborated with Abang Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado. Predictability has garnered in the industry for the years when we thought technology will enable us to explore more things and go further than we used to.
Lately, there has been little reason to tune in to MTV because every video clip looks more or less the same, directed by the same directors (ie HYPE Williams and Hype Williams and.. er Hype Williams), with the same video chicks with a slight change as time progresses. What changes, you ask? Well, the women seem to have less and less clothes on everyday but count yourself lucky because Missy Elliot decides to continue having relatively fabric more on herself (phew!). Even the collaboration is very close-knitted. You’ll find John Legend in every recent album doing some background vocals and deserving a credit for singing a four line chorus as a featured artist, Kanye West spurts some tacky rap lines in what seems like an array of schlocky new hits and Chris Brown contributes his “I’m a man but I’m proud of my uncracked boy’s voice too” to some other.
Thus, don’t be surprised by the recent statistics showing that most of the highest grossing albums dating from 2000 are albums of artist from the 60s to 80s. People of these eras relatively showed more of themselves in their songs and it was a time where it was quintessential for them to come out with a genuine musical identity or signature that could be identified by all. When Marvin Gaye asked “What’s Goin’ On?”, the world stopped with him and asked themselves what ever happened to humanity. When Janis Joplin sang about herself and her Bobby McGee, every girl remembered their own “Bobbies” too. Stevie Wonder had his own Conversation Peace in the early 90s after talking about Superstitions. All of them talked about different things that haunt our mind but never dared to question ourselves.
Let me quote the ever so youthful frontman of Silverchair, Daniel Johns who said “We are a band, not a brand”. Although I personally think that is not entirely possible once you are a part of one of the most renowned Australian band, wahai Abang Daniel-ku yang kacak, I do see his point that music should be able to send a message that comes from the heart while going beyond the normality and boundary of the mind too. Hip Hop started out as an expression against oppression and yet now it oppresses its ownself. Folk used to be THE food for the folks, now it has changed into a blanket for dreamers all day long. Of course there are many choices as to what you can hear but do we really want to be known as the generation of “shake that A, crooked letter, crooked letter all night long” by the future Googlers?? Reality TV is demeaning enough, I reckon.