Friday, April 28, 2017

Why is it actually uncool to like mainstream music?

A good taste in music indispensably contributes to building your persona. By good I mean a unique and personal sphere of interest, not liking whatever song that hits Top 40 on Billboard. Speaking of Billboard, remember Bieber’s Baby that charted top 10 in 2010 and became a global teen-anthem? Now it’d be quite embarrassing to have the song on our phone. Mainstream music refers to songs that become extremely popular for a week, month or year and then they’re gone. There are debates surrounding why pop-songs are mainstream not others, and whether personal charm is absent in today’s money-clad songs.
For one, pop-songs are popular because they’re written to be popular, so individual aestheticism is inherently less in these compositions. Two, musicians today care more about what they wear to the Red Carpet, how many mansions they own, which island they rented for a party, who they’re dating etc. Their album tours get affected by who they’re dating and what rumors the tabloids are spreading prior to selling out stadiums. Subsequently music is losing its true beauty and significance.  
A lot of people blindly like whatever song that plays the most on T.V and radio. In Bhutan, it’d be T.V and the Internet. I think a majority of Bhutanese watch the Indian English music channel 9XO. Teenagers might be apprehensive about listening to non-mainstream music because they’re afraid their peer group might think they’re weird and uncool. But today rebelling against popular culture is kind of the new cool! This implies that conformists who are too scared to explore other music genres tend to listen to mainstream music and sing along to values that neither belong to them nor do they support.
Most mainstream songs are written by professional song-writers and sung by overrated singers, resulting in lack of personal and emotional dimensions. These songs hardly convey messages that the singers want the world to hear. The common themes of pop-songs are sex, money, physical attraction, relationship, jealousy and hatred. Even the choruses, beats and rhythms are homogenized; they’re raucous and noisy.    
That said, it doesn’t necessarily mean all the mainstream songs are bad. It really depends on an individual’s choice and interest. Take Eminem, for instance. His songs had depth and crude honesty. Those were some real shit. It only becomes sad and uncool when you like pop-songs because everyone else likes them too. For example, there are people who have or have never watched Game of Thrones, or played Pokemon Go and Clash of Clans. That’s totally okay. I don’t play the two mobile games because I don’t like them. I watch Game of Thrones though but for very personal reasons; I like the books, and Loras-Renly romance.
One of my friends always pulls the Uggh face whenever I bring Taylor Swift up. That doesn’t stop me from liking her songs. Despite all the KimKardashian-and-TomHiddleston drama, I still think Taylor is a talented original artist. There used to be times when I could listen to her all day long because I could relate so much to her songs. The reasons for fondness should be personal, not sightless conforming.
I downloaded top 21 songs on Billboard in the week of April 24 this year. I took my sweet time listening to each of them and deciding if I like any. I like three of them.
1.     Harry Styles’ Sign of the time has a very nice pre-chorus, and Harry’s voice is heavenly. On top of that, Styles recently revealed that the song is about a mother giving birth who finds out that she will die while the baby will live. Deep.
2.     Ed Sheeran’s Castle on the hill actually has a story and a tune different from common whooping repeat of verses.        
3.     The first verse of Linkin Park’s Heavy sounds like something out of a Troye Sivan song. I definitely like this one. It also has an interesting chorus.
I don’t know why Ed Sheeran’s Shape of you is such a thing in Bhutan though, and everywhere else. When I first heard it, I thought it was a beautiful song. I expected the video to feature women with diverse body figures etc. But when I saw that the official music video featured a really athletic skinny woman with abs and shit, I was like fuck this.
Since I’ve already delved a little into musicians’ lives, I might as well talk about how singers’ sexuality seems to affect their career. With legalization of LGBTQ+ rights and same-sex marriage in the U.S., mainstream singers are increasingly coming out of the closet. I don’t think the sexuality of artists has as much impact on the reception of their works today as there might have been in the past. There still are a number of fundamentalists and homophobes who don’t listen to gay singers simply because they’re gay. But recently gay singers in the mainstream entertainment media have been gaining supports from the public as well as fellow artists.
For example, Sam Smith came out prior to releasing his debut album “In the lonely hour” announcing that he did not want to deceive people out of fear for losing fans. He candidly revealed that the songs were about a guy he’d fallen in love with who didn’t like him back. The Writing’s on the wall singer ended up taking home four Grammys in 2015. 
I also like Years&Years’ lead singer Olly Alexander. The band has been gaining popularity in their native country, United Kingdom after their single King topped the Official Albums Chart in 2015. There are also emerging non-mainstream LGBT+ singers like the pansexual Angel Haze and Shamir with his uniquely androgynous voice. Another LGBT+ singer who’s recently been turning heads is my one and only Troye Sivan. He had Taylor Swift and Sam Smith gushing about him on Twitter! He even made to the Time Magazine’s 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014. So proud of my love. *wipe tears*

But well speaking of Troye Sivan, I don’t think he’s very popular in Bhutan. I am the only person in my class (apart from my roommate who doesn’t have a choice when I play him out loud) who listen to Troye. The reason may be because 9XO hardly plays his songs. I heard from a friend that this other Indian English music channel VH1 had some gay scenes from Troye’s music videos censored/cut. Now where’s the aestheticism in Troye’s songs without all the gay connotations! That’s probably why most Bhutanese haven’t heard of Troye Sivan yet. But anyway, I just hope he wouldn’t go all Justin Bieber after all this fame. I like to believe he’s smarter than that.
Let me end here by saying that Lady Gaga, Eminem and 1975 should collaborate.

And Olly Alexander and Troye Sivan should date. 

I’d be the happiest if the later happened for real! 

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It's one of those hot, sky-blue days that taste of vanilla ice cream and summer and future, when your heart beats faster for no apparent reason, and when you're prepared to swear any oath that friendships never end.

Fav Books

  • Driftwood (by Cathy Cassidy)
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  • The Center of the World
  • Boy meets Boy
  • Call me by your name
  • Dear Martin
  • A monster calls
  • Brokeback Mountain