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Music Immitates Politics, Politics Immitate Music
Posted: Tue Apr 19 16:33:18 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Here's a copy of my latest essay on mass culture:

Music Immitates Politics, Politics Immitate Music: An Examination into the Relationship between Popular Music and Political Ideology in America

Thesis: Socially conscious popular music is reciprocal of a socially aware popular political ideology.

I'm half posting this for kicks, and half posting it in hopes that an editor at Rolling Stone comes looking to offer me a job (man, i'll write for free. FREE.)

access the article through here: http://www.contrakarma.com/?blog_id=19&name=phil


 
Asswipe Posted: Tue Apr 19 21:13:16 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  cool topic. I'm curious why you chose to leave out the numbers though. Was Bob Dylan considered pop music at one point? I guess I'm not sure how to judge this, other than straight up comparing the numbers of his hits / population to britney spears' stuff.

as a minor point of disagreement, you stated that the liberal, revolutionary music of the '60s came about due to a liberal political system in place, but wouldn't it be more accurate to say that the revolutionary music rises simply as an outcry against an opposing system?

i like how you ended it, saying that we will probably see a turn back to political change based music. you could have even sited green day and their recent album "American Idiot", Incubus's "Megalomaniac", or even Eminem's Mosh. American Idiot won a whole host of Grammy's, and I bet stands a strong rival for fame and popularity compared to the non-politically angst ridden stuff of Mrs. Spears.


 
Posted: Tue Apr 19 21:39:34 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Asswipe said:
>as a minor point of disagreement, you stated that the liberal, revolutionary music of the '60s came about due to a liberal political system in place, but wouldn't it be more accurate to say that the revolutionary music rises simply as an outcry against an opposing system?

Entirely possible to say that, yes. In fact, if the grading criteria didn't limit the length of my paper, I would have certainly covered that issue of music as an art form of political negation. A good point.


>i like how you ended it, saying that we will probably see a turn back to political change based music. you could have even sited green day and their recent album "American Idiot", Incubus's "Megalomaniac", or even Eminem's Mosh. American Idiot won a whole host of Grammy's, and I bet stands a strong rival for fame and popularity compared to the non-politically angst ridden stuff of Mrs. Spears.

I could have done that, but then I'd run into a certain problem. There's a gentleman I've read extensively over the years, and quoted in this essay, named Herbert Marcuse; he was a critical theorist, very influencial on the way I look at mass culture. His essential point in the chapter from which I quoted him (One Dimensional Man, ch. 4 I believe) is that what is even worse than art that affirms a status quo (such as most candy-pop garbage), is music that appears to be against the system, but ends up falling short.

It's like, you have a great political party, right? all the ideas they have are fantastic, but for whatever reason, a poor candidate is nominated, and during the election, represents the party badly. Now, you've given opponents a point to critisize, and it changes all momentum that was once there; there is nothing strictly bad about your nominee, it's just that by losing the election on his own accord, the entire party suffers, and what are truly great political ideas are now mashed up with a losing candidate; the ideas seem like ideas that lose, now.

Even Nietzsche speaks about this at some length in Thus Spoke Zarathustra (under the section The Firehounds).

I agree, bands like Green Day and Incubus and even Eminem have fought the good fight in music to some extent; but then, Eminem turns around and sees his record company reap benefits and his music affirm the status quo to such an extent, any contribution he may have made to politically active music is negated.


___


An Aside: For those who think that current radio is nothing but bollocks, you might not have long to wait. I've got a theory, and I think it's a good one, that I didn't express in the essay: it's the baby-boomer theory of cultural phenomenon.

First premise: There has never been a MAJOR historical change in popular music in the 20th century by anybody over the age of 30 (don't get me wrong; lots of great stuff by older folks; it just doesn't catch on as a cultural phenomenon)

Second premise: The most successful generation in terms of cultural advancement was that of the late 1960s: the baby boomers. Most prominant artists were in their mid twenties when this generation hit its cultural prime (Hendrix, Morrison, Beatles, Dylan, etc).

Third premise: The second most successful generation in terms of cultural advancement was that of the early 1990s: the children of the baby boomers, who were then in their mid twenties (Seattle scene, grunge and alternative, hip hop at its prime, even)

Conclusion: The next generation of major cultural advancement will be when the children of the 90s movement reach their mid twenties. Think ~2010.


again, it's just a theory, but I rather like it.


 



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