Driving to work this morning flipping through the radio stations, I finally settled on the one that let me do what we all secretly do in our own cars: finger dance and hand drum the steering wheel to whatever the catchy song of the month is. Whether it's some Chainsmokers or T-Swizzle (Taylor Swift's pop culture name), listening to it a few times gives me the knowledge to sing the chorus and go back to finger dancing for the rest of the song. Sure, I've had the thought before, but maybe I needed to be at an All Time Low in order to actually answer the question of "Is this even a good song, and do I actually like it?"
Fast-forward to tonight procrastinating homework (Netflix's pop culture name), I pitifully ended up in the Watch Again section to laugh at some comedian's jokes that apparently Netflix had said I've done more than half a dozen times. It was then that my cujumbled thoughts on music were adequately, if not ingeniously, presented. Bo Burnham gets a lot of his popularity for his parody music; In other words, he makes fun of stuff like music through singing about it. Now, this is the first full disclosure to anyone reading this that Bo Burnham consistently, if not ingeniously, uses choice swear words. Anywho, through about two and a half of his songs, I was getting Closer to answering my own question from the morning, but instead, more just popped up: Do we like songs because of the words...the beat...the repetition? There is definitely something to be said (or sung) about the corporate perfection of 'hits' these days.
In Burnham's parody of pop country music, "Pandering", he sings that country singers realize that they just have to pander to the country audience in order to sell their music: 🎶 "you know the words, the phrases; phrases like dirt road, cold beer, blue jeans, a red pickup" 🎶. In his parody of regular pop music, "Repeat Stuff", the chorus literally is 🎶 "Though meaning might be missin' We need to know the words after just one listen so, Repeat stuff [X 8] 🎶 His songs and lyrics can go on and on, but the fact remains that this is the reality of our pop culture music. In an age where we have iTunes and Spotify and can play thousands of songs at the click of a mouse, our Top 25's that shape our popular culture is filled with this mind-numbing, over-vague, repetitive (yet catchy) songs pumped out by these Heathens of corporate cronies.
The inquiry made by Bo is quite a good one, yet a hard one to swallow because I find myself still drawn to that catchy music. And even more, I tell myself I like it because it is catchy. The Frankfurt School way of thinking hints toward the Bad Things that can (or already) stem from this. The masses are succumbed to the repetition of daily life. The content doesn't matter as long as the presentation is amusing. And the words are the worst of them. Is it an ignorance of the pandering, a self-centered perception to think that all of these songs are relatable to us specifically, or just an acceptance of an other-prescribed definition of what we should be?
Yes, if you are familiar to Bo Burnham, his skepticism and sarcastic contemptuous approach echo the tone of this article and perhaps myself as well. It's not evil to like catchy music--I finger dance to it all the time, but are we reaching our fullest potential as a human being, as a culture looking from Side to Side, agreeing that this is enough--that we agree to the creative limitations of a select few others? Or will our generation be defined by the prison of those Top 25 Hits?
Bo Burnham Song Links (Again, strong language is used)
For you personally, is it the experience that makes songs memorable or songs that make experiences memorable?
What is your favorite song, and thinking outside of your own personal background, what lyrics would be pandering to the masses (overly vague descriptions like Burnham's lyrics "I love your hands cause your fingerprints are like no other. I love your eyes and their blueish brownish greenish color")?
How susceptible are you to join in on the popularity of currents 'hits'?