Taylor Swift - January 2017
By, Alexander M. Lech
I do not like Taylor Swift’s music. I do not enjoy it and I do not include it in my life but I respect her. Her music does not hold great value for me but I can understand how it does for others. Many claim that she, or the popular music scene in general, is a poison spreading throughout the musical community. The same argument has been made about metal, and electronic music. Rap is an abuse of cultural norms. Country has been painted as one sided and non-creative. Musical genres and ideas have been given poor connotations and even worse: people are socially condemned for expressing themselves through such music.
To see great musicians speak out against music, or worse, to hear them claim that such expressions are not fit to be titled ‘music’ unsettles me. That being said, I do not want this opinion to be solely based around Taylor because she is just one of many examples and I have nothing against her personally.
Music is not about passion, or love, or talent or individuality or any other false label that people give to it. It's about all of those things. It's about sharing a message that would otherwise be hard to communicate, in a language that all people feel and understand. Music is an art form arguably like no other, and as a musician I can with some air of confidence say: people are so helplessly in love with the idea of music that they get frustrated when others don’t see it for what they do. This is fundamentally wrong although understandable.
Music yes, individualizes us but also brings all of us together. It is a language that is universally spoken and that begs questions we would never think to ask. It gives purpose, it validates our thoughts feelings and beliefs and it is only a positive medium. Opinions are welcome in such a world of expression. Even negative opinions. Which is why I am conflicted in writing this piece. Is it within the bounds of music to argue against itself as a medium? Is speaking against other music considered a beneficial opinion? I don’t know and I don’t think that I'm qualified to say whether or not is it right or wrong to hold such opinions. But if you think, or have in the past, poorly of someone's music, I implore you to re-analyse. Ask yourself why you value music and how that could be applied to another's art. Think of what the benefit could be to them or other listeners.
To stomp on someone's outlet, their way of living through music, is saddening to me.
I believe, and yes this is my opinion, that the real sin is not associating with poor music or music that fails to meet someone's niche definition of music, but over-saturating yourself with one kind of music. There are so many out there all with different arguments and different causes, atmospheres and feelings. To listen to one solely can be counter productive to your creative nature. Its like looking at the world in only shades of red. With only one viewpoint everything is bland and red, naturally. But when you look through a blue lens, then a yellow one and an orange one. Eventually you begin to see the world for what it is. Naturally colorful. Not of a single color but of many, together. It is naive to believe that such a place and such a medium has only one purpose.
In my opinion music is best appreciated and most beautifully created with other ideas in mind. With not necessarily a one sided answer to speak of but more of a general question to ask. Musicians understand this. Other genres outside of what an artist usually write in can often help to better fulfil a musician's work and although they do not write with such intentions, the argument is considered.
Anthony Gonzalez of M83 was a metal head when he was a kid, even though the music he produces is Dreampop. Ke$ha doesn’t even listen to her own music, she doesn’t prefer the genre, and Disturbed listen to Simon and Garfunkel.
I ask you to step out and find comfort in other sounds, with other arguments. Ironically with this paper, I am asking you to appreciate music as I do. Consider my claims.