Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The VMAs: What the Actual Expletive

I don't even know how to start this post. First, here's what I wrote on my personal Facebook because I can't quite sum it up any better than this:
So I usually watch the VMA's every year because of my music nerdiness but I didn't make a point to watch it this year since last year pissed me off so much. But of course, I was curious and looked at the award winners/nominations and it can be pretty much summed up into three words: Beyoncé, Rihanna and Drake. I will admit, Beyoncé's album is really good and I like all three of these artists to a point, but I feel like every year the scope of music that gets represented at this damn award show just gets smaller and smaller. If you look at the winners/nominees from 2010 or even 2013, you'll notice it. And you might think "oh it's MTV who gives a crap," but the importance of this is, MTV still has such a huge impact on teens and teens are not being exposed to what's out there. MTV was one of the venues I used to get new music as a teen, listen/watch new bands...and crazy enough, some of them were rock, punk, soul and jazz influenced. That doesn't get played on MTV anymore and that's a problem for the music industry and for our culture - what we're teaching young people, etc. 

My feelings kind of mirror the feelings I expressed in this post when I wrote about the Billboard Top 100. I'm not sure which way it is - is MTV following Billboard and sales or is Billboard reflective of the music on MTV because MTV is still so popular with the youth so teens just buy what's on MTV? I feel it might be the latter but we don't know for sure, I guess.

Not to sound like an old fogie but when I was a teen, I don't remember MTV being so one track minded. Yes, you had your Britney and your Backstreet Boys, but that's what TRL was for. I remember getting ready for school in the morning watching music videos as I brushed my teeth, got dressed, etc. And the playlist was something like this (I realize not all these songs came out at the same time, I'm just listing these to make a point):

Coheed and Cambria "A Favor House Atlantic"
Eminem "The Way I Am" (or whatever his new song was at the time)
Jay-Z "99 Problems"
Steriogram "Walkie Talkie Man" (which I've actually been listening to lately thanks to Apple Music)
Norah Jones "Come Away with Me"
Kid Rock feat. Sheryl Crow "Picture"
Against Me! "Don't Loose Touch"
Evanesence "Bring Me to Life"
Lil Jon "Get Low"

Do you see the varied genres represented here? Cause I sure do. I can probably count 5 on this list. As you can see here from the Top 100 songs of 2003, there are a lot of genres that were represented in pop music. Check out the list from 2015. Okay in the top 20 alone we have Hozier and....Hozier. He's the only one that wouldn't be considered pop or rap/R&B. Fall Out Boy is number 43 and maybe some people consider Maroon 5 still rock - I don't. You could argue this in like, 2002 when they first came out but not anymore. Oh, and Geroge Ezra is on the bottom at #89. And even he could be considered pop, but specifically I think he's singer/songwriter - as is Hozier. So out of 100 there are 3-4 different artists in there, that's interesting, so where are the other genres? WHERE THEY AT???

As a side note, you know who won Best Rock Video this year at the VMA's? Twenty One Pilots. Twenty One freakin' Pilots. I love them but they are not Rock. They're just not. But they're popular and MTV doesn't know where to put them so, Best Rock Video it is! What's up with that?

I find this has been a long time coming but it's gotten really bad lately. Even Pitchfork and other popular music websites are focusing more on the artists MTV's little box promotes. As young people, we were able to choose - are we fans of rock music? Rap music? Country? Now it seems like it's harder to choose what genre we want to identify with as a young person. That's not okay. One of the reasons why I love music is because there are so many different sounds, artists, outlooks, etc. that you can explore and love. This new version of popular music doesn't seem like it's wanting young people to be able to discover that.

If you like this music that's on MTV and apparently "popular" according to whoever this omnipotent figurehead is who decides this, that's great, keep listening to it. I even like some of it, to be honest. But I miss the days when oh, I don't know, Courtney Barnett would be featured on MTV or even a rapper like K. Flay who is doing some interesting stuff with her music. But if it's not in the box, the masses allegedly don't want any part of it anymore.

And let's not forget the fact that a lot of the music that is popular is about sex and saying the N word a thousand times. This is an aspect to the bigger problem that teens think this shit is normal. We're an oversexualized society to a fault, it's been discussed for many years now, and the music being offered to the youth certainly isn't helping.

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