The term nostalgia describes a yearning for the past, often in idealized form. This phenomenon is something that has been sweepingly affecting many aspects of our day-to-day lives – the move to touchscreen, HD, computerized gizmo’s and electronized beats stirring in many a desire to return to more basic ways of living and enjoying themselves.
This return to the past and the move to quality over sheer quantity is something that has also become apparent in the music industry – exemplified in the fact that it was the likes of Adele and Ed Sheeran who took home the most BRIT Awards at this years ceremony.
In a time where Photoshop and auto tune reign supreme, a post-adolescent ginger and a phenomenal voice encased in a body which Karl Lagerfeld called “a little too fat” were the ones that stood out. What does this mean?
In a day and age where technology has given anyone and everyone the capability and capacity to hit all the right notes, it seems people are pining for a more authentic sound. Artists the likes of Maverick Sabre and Michael Kiwanuka whipping out their acoustic guitars and soulful voices – and artists the likes of J. Cole spitting poignant rhymes that reflects society – just in time to give people exactly what they have been yearning for.
Even those who provide the sort of digital facilitation that has become inherent in much of the music these days – the likes of Prof Machover – in whose lab games the likes of ‘Guitar Hero’ were created – have admitted the drawbacks of such technology. “I would rather hear a performance with true personal feeling rather than hear something perfectly in tune,” he said. Something, which it seems, more and more people are relating to.
Sales figures support this with Adele’s album ‘21’ the only album to have seen the number one spot so far this year. Maverick Sabre’s album debuted at number two in the UK charts, while Ed Sheeran’s ‘+’ was the ninth biggest selling album of 2011 in the UK.
This is also apparent in the controversy surrounding the use of auto tune in 2010’s X Factor, when outrage surrounded the bosses admittal to using the technique in improving contestant’s voices – making it clear that people do not like to be fooled by technology.
That’s not to say that the more ‘pop’ sounding tracks are doing badly. It’s undeniable that artists the likes of Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Drake and even Pitbull are doing as well if not better than ever. Meshing together crude, arguably pointless lyrics and mismatched beats in the hopes that an abundance of skin will distract from the above faults, much of today’s musical offerings are arguably not giving consumers and concert goes value for their money.
‘Talk That Talk,’ Rihanna’s latest and sixth studio album peaked at number three in the charts – proving both that she will undoubtedly be around for the long run, but also that while her singles tend to chart at number one, her albums have not reached that position once.
For as long as people need music to dance to, there will be ‘pop.’ For as long as we expect a quick regurgitation and turn out of musical offerings, there will be ‘pop’ – for the artists are only giving the consumers what they want. But it’s undeniable that at the same time as many of the artists and the music that they offer are becoming more commercialised, packaged and hastily whipped out – the demand, and often the delivery of the exact opposite is also increasing.
Good music has always transcended generations. We have forever been able to listen to the music our parents listen to – now, finally, they can listen to ours too.