Written By: Julian Lee
When I open my eyes in the morning, the first thing I see is John Lennon. Ominously, he stares at me, lips closed, expressionless. It starts to get a little awkward so I proceed to get ready for the day. John Lennon seems even further discontented by the fact I am standing in my underwear.
Dreary eyed and grumpy, I arrive at school. People wave and smile and I acknowledge them with a nod of my head, the only gesture my energy can muster. Like clockwork, a voice addresses us from the speaker, “Good morning Harbord, it is a day one and you now have five minutes to get to class.” What follows is a modern phenomenon: pop music, a part of the morning announcement ritual, designed to excite us, energize and put us in a good mood. People pass, happily singing along, making their way to their first class. I watch them in bewilderment. I imagine John Lennon turning in his grave.
Let us begin at the be all and end all of pop music in Canada: Billboard’s Canadian Top 100. This epic list dictates what we hear blasting from every car, Tim Horton’s, elevator and even our school’s speakers. As of now, the number one song in our country is by a K-Pop star named PSY called “Gangnam Style”.
In Korean, “Gangnam” translates to “south of the river” . . . style. Well, that sounds more promising. A poetic image of a river flowing through the exotic Korean countryside enters my mind. This image is quickly smothered by the rest of the lyrics. Here are some highlights. “I’m a guy/ A guy who is as warm as you during the day/ A guy who one-shots his coffee before it even cools down…” Whoa there PSY, we’d all hate to see you burn your gifted vocal chords by chugging steaming hot coffee. Then of course, the sheer Shakespearian wit that is the chorus: Oppa Gangnam Style. This is followed by a series of “eh sexy lady” chants but the best is yet to come. PSY amazes us with his truly revolutionary insights towards the end of the song where he says, “On top of the running man is the flying man, baby baby/ I’m a man who knows a thing or two.” This revolution has stayed on our charts for five weeks straight. The revolution ofstupid.What PSY is doing here isn’t exactly new. It bears a striking resemblance to another chart topping group – of an equally infantile name – LMFAO. Named after a text message abbreviation. How clever. LMFAO’s big hit was beautiful in its simplicity. Its chorus was the single repetition of the word, “shots”. The moral of this hit is exemplary, clearly advocating the respect of women in our society when they preach, “the women come around every time I’m pouring shots/ their panties hit the ground every time I give em’ shots.”
This song and innumerable others like it are very popular. From reading those lyrics, one cannot help but marvel at how unintelligent they are. I somehow fail to believe that a higher meaning of beauty was lost in the translation of “Gangnam style”. “Shots” speaks for itself.
So what’s happened here? Why does stupidity appeal so widely to so many? Is everyone really that stupid? Perhaps, our values regarding music have changed. Maybe music is simply a joke, something to laugh at. Or perhaps, it is merely a light pumping melody to play in the background as one throws a ping-pong ball into a red plastic cup.
Sure, it’s not all that bad. However, Taylor Swift’s juvenile “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (like ever) and Adam Levine’s “Moves Like Jagger”- no matter how sexy – simply don’t carry as much meaning as music used to.
John Lennon wrote simple pop music too, but at least he could actually play his instrument. His voice sounds genuine and raw, in contrast to the auto-tuned perfectionists of pop music today. As times changed, John Lennon blossomed into a visionary, spreading love and inspiring people across the world. Bob Dylan, The Clash, The Smiths, among others, followed suit. If you do not recognize the artists I just mentioned, google right them now.
I urge you have a closer listen to Rihanna and Lady Gaga. What are their songs really saying? Other than going to clubs and hooking up, what unique artistic vision do they offer to our society? Isn’t there more to life than drunken debauchery? Maybe, you just don’t care and you just want to party. Hey, I like to party as much as the next person. You go to your all ages event, and I’ll dance around in my room to the Beatles in my underwear.