Free Essay

Pop Language

In: Film and Music

Submitted By StephAlex21
Words 1447
Pages 6
Stephanie Alexander
Professor Brendan Praniewicz
English 205
17 Aug. 2013
Everybody Say, “Yeah” Imagine the typical day of a young person in the 21st Century. She gets in her car and immediately turns on her favorite pop radio station on the way to work. Her friends from college invite her to a party after her shift ends, and she invites a few friends as well. In the car on the way to the party, while chit chatting over upbeat background music, one of them exclaims, “Oh! I love this song!” One of them turns the volume up and they all sing together to the catchy tune and the easy words of “Young, Wild, and Free” by Wiz Khalifah, “Roll one. Smoke one. When you live like this you’re supposed to party…” This line in the song is extremely easy to learn because it has been repeated several times in less than three minutes, and is set to the sound of a catchy tune. Perhaps pop music has been designed to fit into this modern lifestyle, where one is always on the go, and wants to stay active and energetic. Who has time to really listen to what the song is saying if it has rhythm and is easy to sing along to? Without listening, we tune out the important form of expression that is musical lyrics, and this drop in emphasis encourages a lack of investment in song composition. American Pop music’s language is digressing to the point where it is more offensive, repetitive, and shallower than ever. Offensive language in modern pop music is becoming more normal. The modern American parent can be easily deceived by the “happy” nature of a pop song and think nothing of their eight year old listening to it, but after hearing their child sing “F** You” by Cee Lo Green, their reaction would be entirely different. An article by Jon Pareles, writer for the New York Times online, explained this occurrence when he referred to the song, “Tonight I’m F**ing you” by Enrique Iglesias. “Of course he means to be rude... Mr. Iglesias decided that the crudity would turn on more fans than it would drive away.” This strategy worked as his song ranked 4th of Billboard’s Top 10 in 2010. Many pop songs in the last decade have contained more crude sexual language than those in previous years. According to the article, “Pop Music Lyrics More Sexualized than Ever,” by Sean P. Means (published in the Salt Lake Tribune), the Brigham Young University conducted research on the topic and provided the following information: “Regression analysis was used to compare song lyrics from 1959, 1969, 1979, 1989, 1999, and 2009. Of all years, 2009 was significantly more likely to contain sexualization.” Take the lyrics to a song by Akon & Eminem titled, “Smack That”: “Smack that; out on the floor. Smack that; give me some more. Smack that; ‘till you get sore. Smack that…” They employ the word “that” as if the person they are referring to is an object, and the way the phrase is repetitiously used makes this one line difficult to forget. This song also has a strong element of catchiness, which leads to the next topic. Catchiness is also huge to pop in this day and age; In today’s society, pop is more popular than ever before. Gary Trust, associate director of charts/radio and editor of Billboard magazine provided the following statistic: “Pure pop has made up at least 60% of the survey's total top 10 hits each year from 2008 through this year…Last year, the style accounted for a whopping 79% of the chart's top 10s -- the highest percentage in the chart's history.” It would stand to reason that this surge in popularity is causing record labels to push pop music production while its market is at an all-time high. This growth is apparent in our every-day life, and many know the extent to which they overplay the latest favorite. With all this new energy put into the mass production of pop-music, it would stand to reason that song-writers are paying more attention to that than to the words in their songs. As long as it has a few key phrases (“hooks”) and can be sung to a catchy tune, a pop song can become a hit, but as a result Lyrics have suffered tremendously and are becoming overly repetitive. Take the song by a new hit band, One Direction, called “Kiss You.” The chorus shows a perfect example of repetition in the line, “To-o-uch. You get this kind of ru-u-ush. Everybody say yeah a! Yeah a! Yeah a! Yeah…” and it goes on. First of all, the first sentence in the chorus is the word “Touch.” This sentence violates basic rules of grammar, and does not connect with the next line, yet they seem to have added this word to the song to merely fill the empty space. Moreover, it is easy to say the word, “yeah.” It’s even easier when it’s repeated over and over, and sure enough, this repetition makes this song hard to forget. Naturally, this song becomes an easy sale. To further demonstrate, take the chorus to the song “Scream and Shout” by Will.I.Am and Brittney Spears: “I want to scream and shout and let it all out, and scream and shout and let it out. We say, ‘Oh e oh e oh e oh. Oh e Oh e Oh e Oh…’” Again, apparently the modern day pop song writer’s task is easy: make pop songs repetitive so they are catchier. In addition, intellect and depth are virtues these songs are leaving behind. Depth in pop song writing may be quickly becoming a way of the past. This is saddening because there is tremendous power in a Pop song with lyrical value and intent and can generate genuine emotion in its listeners. Yet perhaps there is no desire to feel or be truly moved anymore. All the examples above, “Young, Wild and Free,” “Tonight I’m F**ing you,” “Smack That,” “Kiss You,” and “Scream and Shout” by their names alone reveal that they their subjects have no objective other than having a good time. Years ago, brilliant minds, such as John Lenin, Elton John, and Simon & Garfunkel, were producers of amazing pieces of lyrical poetry and held in high esteem. “The Boxer,” a song by Simon & Garfunkel produced in the 1969, is an amazing piece of musical poetry, and is a portrayal of struggle. For example, take its beginning “I am just a poor boy, so my story is seldom told. I have squandered my resistance for a pocket full of mumbles—such are promises.” This song is honest. This song is genuine. This song demonstrates true emotion which is a large aspect of what musical language should be about; it contains meaning unheard of in modern songwriting. Yet it is the year 2013, and one can search the top 40 hits on Google or YouTube and find that roughly 30 out of those are fast paced nonsense about parties and sexual encounters, and even when a song with a stronger topic comes along, its verses and ideas are poorly and haphazardly put together. It’s no wonder that many now have created their own playlists so as to not have to listen to something on the radio that has no meaning. These factors and more contribute to the decline of the dialect of pop music. The way obscenity and profanity is used so liberally has left much to be desired for creativity in songwriting. Words being used merely to fill space and make a song catchy are rendering these art forms void of intellect. With these failures of expression and the progression of superficiality, the once eloquent language of pop may soon become musical art history.
Works Cited Akon ft. Eminem. “Smack That.” Konvicted. SRC, 2006. Web. Green, Cee Lo. “Fuck You.” The Lady Killer. Elektra, 2010. Web Iglesias, Enrique. “Tonight (I’m Fuckin’ You).” Euphoria. Universal, 2010. Web. One Direction. “Kiss You.” Take Me Home. Syco, 2013. Web Pareles, John. “From Cee Lo Green to Pink, Speaking the Unspeakable.” New York Times. 15 Mar. 2011. New York Times Company. Web. 20 Apr. 2013.
Simon & Garfunkel. “The Boxer.” Bridge Over Troubled Water. Columbia, 1969. Web
Trust, Gary. “Pop A Bottle.” Billboard 124.34 (2012)): 20. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 17 Apr. 2013 Will.I.Am and Britney Spears. “Scream & Shout.” #willpower. The Record Plant, 2012 Wiz Kalifah and Snoop Dog. “Young, Wild, & Free.” Mac & Delvin Go to High School. Atlantic, 2011. Web.

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