Tuesday, July 22, 2008

SBPL Myth #3 - Music Trends

(A JAM C) When it comes to music preferences, I have often come to find that biracial people have chosen a side.  They either tend to like Rap and R&B, or Alternative, Rock, and Heavy Metal.  Well, maybe I should refer to that in the past tense.  Music has definitely evolved over the past decade.  In the 90's, it was either or.  There was typical white music, which rarely had any black followers except for Hootie and Lenny Kravitz, and there was your typical black music which had all black followers, and a decent amount of white ones too.

Then the Backstreet Boys came out.

I didn't mean that to be a metaphor... honestly... I kinda liked the Backstreet Boys.  But for me, that was the beginning of the end.  Music hasn't been the same since then.  I remem-
ber the first time I heard a Backstreet Boys song.  I was driving in my car listening to 96.3 FM, which is Indianapolis' Hip Hop and R&B station.  They were big in 
Europe, and now they were about to hit it big in the States.  As I listened to the song, I was thinking to myself "okay, this isn't too
 bad, I can dig it."  I didn't think much of it after that.

A few days later, I saw them on TV, and I recognized the song, and honestly, I was flabbergasted.  I thought they were black, but they weren't.  Five white boys we
re on my TV screen, singing music that wasn't quite "black music," but definitely wasn't "white music."  One of these five guys looked like a girl.  I was scared.  Honestly, I knew w
hat was coming next.  I knew that as a result of the Backstreet Boys, two things were going to happen.  1) Little girls everywhere were going
 to fall head over heels in love with them, and 2) there would be imitations... many, many imitations.

There were imitations.  Shortly after the Backstreet Boys hit it big, Britney Spears came out with "Hit me Baby One More Time," which debuted at #1.  After that, N'Sync hit it big.  After that, Christina Aguilera, 98 Degrees, Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore, O'Town, J-Lo, etc., came, and the whole landscape of the music scene changed.  Pop died with the New Kids on the Block, but then it burst rapidly onto the scene to end the century, and things have never been the same.

Here's what the late 90's Pop explosion did... before Pop, music had a very thick line dividing it.  In Indianapolis for instance, there was Hoosier Hot 96, which as I stated before was devoted solely to Rap and R&B, and there was 93.1, which was devoted to Heavy Metal, and 103.3, the alternative station.  I was fine with that.  I didn't see it lasting long, 
but it was okay with me.  Before the year 2000 hit though, 93.1 decided to change gears.  It became Radio Now 93.1, and instantly became the most popular radio station in Indianapolis.  Their plan was to have a top ten countdown every hour... EVERY HOUR!  And you know what?  People ate it up.  I could tune to a station at the 55th minute of any hour throughout the day, and I was guaranteed to hear "Genie in a Bottle," or "I Want it That Way."  It freakin' drove me crazy.

Instead of the thick black line, there became a huge grey area, and people who grew up with the black line had no idea what to do.  I'll admit, I really didn't want to like the Backstreet Boys or N'Sync because I didn't think I would have been accepted by my friends or older brothers.  Then, I heard that Michael Bennett, the 6'6 all-state basketball player from my high school liked the Backstreet Boys, and N'Sync, and I was more willing to broaden my horizons.

The Pop revolution did two things to music.  One of those things was very good, but the other was so bad, that it completely obliterates the good.

Good - More and more people began to like music from the "other side."  This was fascinating to me.  I remember my friend Mike (not the ball player), the biggest most intimidating looking black dude I knew.  When I first met him, he was strictly on one side.  Then all of a sudden he's listening to Creed, and Three Doors Down, and the Bloodhound Gang.  Really?  I remember my sister, who all of a sudden listens to anything, and I mean an-ny-thing-guh!  And honestly, that's awesome!  That's the way it should be.  I don't think there should be music that's designated as white music and music that's designated as black music, but that's the way it was in the mid-90's.  But then there's the bad.

Bad - As a result of the pop revolution, music today is garbage.  You can feel free to disagree with me all you want, but I'm sticking to my guns.  Do me a favor... if you ever see VH1's top 100 songs of the 90's on TV, watch it.  The show annoys me, because they only chose one song per artist, but still... If you were a teenager at any point before 1997, and you don't find yourself thinking "what the eff happened to music?", by the end of the show, then you're one of a kind.  Instead of having music in it's purest of forms, it is all blended together with the aim of reaching that very large grey audience that is mostly made up of teenagers... if you do the math, an 18 year old was in first grade when the Backstreet Boys came out.  They don't know a thing about that thick line, and they probably don't care.  In my opinion, the blend is okay at best.

Pop destroyed R&B.

That's my beef with Pop when I think about it honestly.  Today's Pop music sounds too much like R&B for R&B to have a fighting chance.  Think about it.  I did a search online for the top R&B songs of all-time, and I found somebody's list of favorite R&B songs.  There wasn't a single song from after the year 2000.  If I made a list of my favorite R&B songs, mine might be in a similar situation.

Pop probably did the same thing to Alternative.  Green Day has been replaced by a boy band with an electric guitar player and a token black guy who raps a few words.  I don't know much about Alternative, so I'll just have to stop there.

Pop cheapened Rap.  Seriously, this one almost hurts as much as what Pop did to R&B.  Do you know what I heard the other day?  Little Wayne is the greatest rapper alive.  Little Wayne?  Little Wayne?!!  Do you mean the same Little Wayne from Cash Money records who sounded like an ironing board sounds like when you have to open it?  When did this happen?  I mean, I'm open minded... if Little Wayne really is the greatest rapper alive, then maybe I should check out some of his music, but seriously... I remember 90's Little Wayne.  The wind could beat him up, and he was rapping about how hard he was.  I just wasn't buying it.

The reason why this is an SBPL Myth is the fact that this seems like it would be right up a biracial person's alley.  You know?  Get white music and black music, put it in a blender and viola!  Biracial music!  Whatever the case, I think our collective reaction is at worst the same as the collective reactions of any other race.

Yesterday, I was driving somewhere and I had an epiphany.  When I was in high school, I was determined to always like the music that was on top of the charts.  Whatever was in, was my kind of music.  Here I am only 10 years later, and I can already tell you that my time is up.  I'm finished, and I'm afraid that there's no hope for me.  I'm not even 30, but as long as Pop is King, my ability to be with the "in" crowd is a 0 on a scale of 1 to 10.  That's okay with me.  There's much more to life than being "in."

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh....late 90's Bubblegum Pop music. Gross.

I don't think there was definitive white and black music line as you state. Many people of both races listen to white and black music; be it R&B, Rock, etc. (think of the artists on the Motown label 40 years ago or Hendrix and how many white people love/loved them, but I might have not understood your statement clear enough.)

There always has and always will be Pop music. The stuff we heard on the radio growing up is definitely considered Pop, and it's the same "situation" today. Lil Wayne for Rap and (whoever is popular in the Rock area today) are still Pop, it's just for a different generation. Take a look at Dr. Dre back in the 90's as well as Green Day - many people considered them to be sellouts when they went commercial. Yeah, we loved them (well, I did), but how many people back then would say that the popular stuff was garbage and "our generation of music was better"?

With all that said, I 100% agree with you that the commercial success of the Bubblegum artists/music machine industry of the late 90's has weakened music as a whole - it's all crap. Sure, there are a few artists that have become popular that are actually good, but not many.


Not many at all.

xxiebeast705 said...

I agree.

But what about Michael Jackson. I think HE deserves credit for breaking the color line in popular music, not Backstreet Boys lol.

Michael was the first black artist to be played on MTV. White people love him just as much as Blacks or anyone else.

And popular music today is garbage, I agree. Back in the day you had to at least have talent to get a record deal. Then in the 90's record companies started giving deals to mediocre people which in turn spawned more mediocrity because the average person at home is sitting at home listening to Britney thinking "If she can get a record deal, I can"...which was absolutely true.

I was a kid in the 90s so I enjoy my N'Sync as much as any girl tat grew up in that era. But Honestly music has been on a slippery slope...

Oh yeah and Lil Wayne sucks ass.

A Jam C said...

You're right "beast" HNIC and I both LOVE Michael Jackson. I guess I was talking about the late 90's when MJ wasn't as popular anymore, and there was a clear divide... at least in my opinion.

Caleb said...

There has been crappy, manufactured pop music since it ever started being recorded. I don't know enough about mainstream music before the 60s, but there were certainly a ton of both boy bands and girl bands in the early sixties, both black and white. Guys like Phil Spector churned them out of his sausage machine.

For me it's such a non-issue though because I wasn't into "cool" music when I was in school and never have been, really. I listen to what I listen to and that's good enough for me. I never got into rap (although some of the much earlier stuff I can appreciate), and punk doesn't do it for me, but pretty well anything and everything else is up for grabs from metal to folk to electronica to blues rock to gypsy jazz. When I was a youngster, I was listening to Black Sabbath and Miles Davis, jamming blues with my friends, and going to raves. It didn't matter to me.