Gen X vs Millennials on Music Appreciation: Critical Thinking

Last week, our secondary students were asked to read the following article and respond to the writer’s opinion [7-12 Nov 2016].


The article:


In paragraph 4: Hartley states that in the past “the culture around pop music was positively tribal…The bands you listened to…it was about who you wanted to be, what you wanted to stand for…Music was life. It was identity.” In contrast, “there are so many more forms of easily accessible pop culture available today that music doesn’t have the exclusive force that it used to.” One of the questions we asked our students is if they agree with Hartley’s suggestion that the music one listens to can represent and mould one’s identity?

A Model Response, adapted from Dylan Lim’s essay [age 15], a student at Creative Campus

Firstly, I feel that the bulk of twenty-first century music merely entertains, conveying little meaning. Current songs aim to have catchy tunes and good rhythm, which allow the listener to simply enjoy and relax.

However, these songs rarely hold any deep meaning and usually comprise superficial repetitive lyrics. Selena Gomez’s Kill them with Kindness is an apt example — the chorus repeats the title five times.

Moreover, the more popular artists focus heavily on dubstep and electronic noises in their music, to the exclusion of meaningful lyrics.

For example, Kyga and The Chainsmokers compose mainly dubstep or electronic songs. Even in the few songs they have composed that contain lyrics, the lyrics hold absolutely no meaning, such as in The Chainsmokers’ Let me take a selfie.

However, there is a subset of modern music that advocates meaningful messages quite effectively. With all the strife in our world, some artists create music to respond to these pertinent issues in our communities.

Some explore discrimination while others respond to current events. Two good examples will be Michael Jackson’s Heal the world, which touches on conflicts stemming from discrimination, and the Black Eyed Peas’ Where is the love, which was released after the September 11 disaster. It was released again in light of the recent Paris bombings.

In response to AJ Hartley’s piece, I do agree that music greatly defined one’s identity in the past. Most fans of a certain genre rarely listened to another music genre. It almost resembled a form of discrimination, or a boycott of any foreign music.

For example, an R&B fan would mostly steer away from jazz or rap music, which was primarily listened to and composed by the African American community. In the past, fans also involved themselves in the various traditions that accompanied each music culture.

For example, one could identify a loyal rock fan by their long hair and exaggerated fashion sense. In comparison to the present, which music industry is dominated by tunes composed chiefly to entertain, I do feel that music played a more significant role in the past; it was key to a sense of identity for many.

Read, think and write about real-world issues that impact oneself and One's society.

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