The other day I was trawling through draws looking for something when I came across an old CD of mine- The Brit Awards compilation CD from back in 2007. From looking at the track list on the back, only one thought comes to mind- what an incredible year for pop music, let alone British pop music, the CD possessed the likes of Lily Allen’s Smile, Chelsea Dagger, Monster by The Automatic, The Kooks’ Naive, Corrine Bailey Rae’s Put Your Record On and America by Razorlight. All of these songs are absolute crackers, typically British and what’s more, have aged amazingly, I defy you to listen to one of the above songs and not think something along the lines of ‘what a banger’ or ‘oh I remember this!’
Irregardless of the British gems on the album, the international hits from the likes of Beyonce, Rihanna, Shakira and My Chemical Romance follow the same pattern of ageing greatly. However, the criticism comes from where we are currently in pop music, let’s take Rihanna and Shakira’s latest release- Can’t Remember To Forget You for example,an incredibly tired and recycled sound that possesses no character or spark both artists are known for, it appears the content of the video is the selling point of the song, which to me, is just backward considering the video is the highlight of the audio. As you can probably have guessed, Shakira’s hit from 2007 was Hips Don’t Lie, a grammy nominated track infused with reggae and brass was one of those tracks that everyone knew the words too. Among many others released at the time, SOS was the particular track on the compilation from the Bajan beauty, one of my favourite Rihanna songs, classically sampling Soft Cell’s Tainted Love, it arguably gave birth to the superstar that we know today.
Of course I could witter on about the music at the time and how great it was, but the point of this article is to bring the lack of creativity and diversity to the public eye. What I will say is that pop music is definitely improving, with the likes of Rudimental, Disclosure, Pharrell, Clean Bandit, Foxes, Katy B and Avicii bringing masses of individuality to the charts, but over the last few years, the standard is simply not up to what it was around 2007, the times where The Zutons/Amy Whinehouse sang ‘I think of all the things, what you’re doing and in my head I make a picture’. In comparison, the sort of lyrics we are blessed with nowadays come from the once respectable Enrique Iglesias ’cause I’m a freak, yeah I’m a freak, ’cause I’m a freak, yeah I’m a freak’.
Speaking of which, featured on ‘I’m a Freak’ (yes there’s really a song called this and it genuinely sits at number four on the charts as of 18th march) is everybody’s favourite, Pitbull! ‘Mr Worldwide’, as he calls himself is partly responsible for plaguing the charts with near characterless, recycled hits. However, in Pitbull’s defence, he CAN be good at what he does, ‘Timber’ is catchy, memorable and has a tinge of character, incorporating Ke$ha and an infectious harmonica is intelligent, despite woeful lyrics from the man himself. Of course he’s not off the hook yet, songs like International Love with Chris Brown and Feel This Moment are just, well I don’t know how to describe them, they’re just, blank and have no substance to them.
Bringing my rant to a close, the worst example of this lacklustre, effortless decline in their music, is the once king of pop at one point (no not MJ) will.i.am. All one would need to do is have a listen of any number of Black Eyed Peas songs – I Got A Feeling, Don’t Lie, Where Is The Love? just to name a few and even his later solo hits such as the massive Heartbreaker. Nowadays, Mr Am simply recruits ’stars’ like Bieber and Britney, lazily throw their lyrics onto a shockingly frustrating, manufactured base, scratch a video together with lots of flashing lights and celebrity cameos and bingo, you have a UK chart hit.
Pop music has been on a slippery slope of decline for the last three-four years, with pop stars simply losing their enthusiasm, they are obviously just churning out hits because they know people will buy them. It’s sad because a lot are genuinely talented and have a catalogue to look back on and be proud of. As mentioned, [very] recently we are seeing an incline with the pop music over the last year, improving radically with many new stars pushing their way past the rubbish blocking their way. In summary, all I ask is that consumers think about the music they are buying, do ‘musicians’ like will.i.am or Pitbull need or deserve the 79p of your hard earned money? Especially considering the likes of Disclosure or Ellie Goulding are putting out credible, respected music that are actually crafted with thought and passion.