A Culture of Sameness, Beginning With The Music

From October 13, 2008


Pardon me while I go off on a rant here . . .


Disenchantment has kept me away from popular music for months if not years.  Having said that there are still a few contemporary acts that I like although I’m beginning to question why.  Who can really tell the difference between the latest albums from Justin Timberlake, Usher, Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera?  I certainly have a hard time.  The popular music scene has gone from everyone wanting to be R&B or Hip Hop to (and this is even worse) the synthesized sounds of the 1980s.  I suppose this is to be expected given that they all grew up during the 80s and 90s but I would think Usher at least was above this.


To be fair, a stunt like this is to be expected from someone like Britney Spears who lacks the important attribute of talent.  But why Christina?  Her last album was fabulous and it felt more like something from the world war 2 era.  I’m not saying she should have redone the same album.  But why does she have to sound like everyone else out there?  The same with Usher.  His last album (Confessions) was a great R&B album and now he put out an album that just as easily could have been put out by Justin Timberlake – who started this whole mess (at least to my ears ) with his FutureSexLoveSounds album.


All these cookie cutter albums prove to me is that the music business has become all about the business and not at all about the music.  Music is supposed to be a form of expression.  Then again, I suppose that there is so little difference between the young these days that their music reflects their clone-like behaviours.  To illustrate my point, I was looking at a magazine cover the other day and it had three actresses on it: Hillary Duff and two others I can’t remember the name of, and then there was a second magazine with a picture of Lindsay Lohan.  All four of them looked so much alike they could have been quadruplets.  Its ridiculous.


Whatever happened to freedom of expression?  Freedom of Speech?  I thought that the 1970s was a decade that started the whole individual movement.  Was this movement really just a step backwards?


I suppose the real culprit is this global village idea.  We are constantly being bombarded with information.  Television, radio, the internet, news magazines, billboards, Blackberries, an the like have infiltrated our lives to such a great degree, filling our heads with so many commercials that it is hardly surprising that we find ourselves in the situation we are in globally.


We have celebrities that all look the same and project the image that we should all strive to.  Being the obedient clones we are, we set our sights on becoming just like our favorite celebrity.  Out come the credit cards to by the designer items, the makeup and fragrances.  We need to have those Manolos, or that Prada bag or the Chanel glasses.  We need to have the fancy car and the big house.  Along with that we need the latest fashionable pooch.  The debt mounts, yet we are still able to make our payments so the bank increases our credit limit so we can buy the next fashionable thing.


And on it goes until we find we are not making enough money to pay those bills so we go to our employer and ask for a raise.  The employer increases our salary, in turn having to go to the bank and ask for more financing to do so.  And on it goes until guess what . . . our need to be the same as everyone else, or better (even though we’re not) has lead us to overextend ourselves.  The banks, wanting to feed that need to keep our business, overextend themselves and . . .


POW – a global credit crisis.


See if we just stick more to our own personalities and stop trying to be like everyone else we wouldn’t get into half the messes that we get into.  Perhaps if we were spending as much time worrying about our education as we did about what Paris Hilton’s latest idiotic move was we’d not be in the crisis we are now.  And just maybe our musical acts would have their own personalities that would be reflected in different musical sounds rather than the regurgitated albums being put out as art these days.


The knowledge of the world is in books – not on The Surreal Life.  Turn off the damn TV and pick up a book.  You’ll be much better off for it in the long run.


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