How Mainstream Music Is Becoming Music Again

I have a confession to make: I may have spent the past two days doing nothing but listening to Lorde’s new album; and I have absolutely no shame.

 

Unless you live under a rock instead of on one, you probably know who Lorde is. Ella Yelich O’Connor burst onto the mainstream music scene circa 2013 with her album ‘Pure Heroine’ that launched her to what can only be described as super-stardom. But I am not here to give you the lowdown on her history, you can find all of that on her Wikipedia page. I am, however, here to talk about her music, because I feel like there is no way to listen to it without it sparking some kind of conversation. Yeah, it is just that good.

 

I think the biggest thought I have whenever I listen to her music is, what does this mean for pop music? I think we as a society have developed this concept of what mainstream pop is supposed to sound like. We as a society love boxes, and we have a debilitating tendency of putting everything into one, and that is, in my own ignorant opinion, a major issue with mainstream music in general. That, however, is a conversation for another time. Or maybe it’s not.

 

I think I should start off by explaining what I mean by “mainstream music”. Personally, I take it as any song written for the sole intent of making money, and are, as a result, pushed by radio stations and television programmes in an attempt to garner them publicity and rake in the big bucks. It is a capitalistic approach to music, and art in general, where the main aim is profit. I do not like it. In my ideal dream world, art is made with the intent of expression, regardless of how much money it can make. It is raw, real and a means for the artist to share some part of themselves with an audience. This is why I cannot bare to listen to the radio, most of the time it dull, monotonous and irritating. If the radio made more of an effort to push music that breaks barriers, that is a means of saying something more then “let’s party and get high”, or another tedious and empty love song, purely because a particular artist sings it (and probably didn’t even write it) I might actually be more inclined towards the mainstream.

Yeah, yeah, I get it. I’m revolting hipster trash, tell me something I don’t know. Before you write me off as such though, and disregard this article entirely, I want to put emphasis on the “most of the time”. Every so often, an artist comes along with a big name that makes a big impact. Artists such as Lorde and even others such as Ed Sheeran, have somehow developed a way of breaking apart the mainstream music industry to bring us something new, something real and of a superior quality to almost everything else that has been blasted across the sound waves. They’re famed artists who actually deserve their recognition.

 

Listening to ‘Melodrama’, focusing on layers of music, the lyrics, the ways in which Lorde has managed to shape something from her real life and make it saleable without compromising its integrity as a piece of art has me deeply impressed. It is the makings of a true artist. She has meshed herself into a market while staying true to what she wants to make and providing some form of inner therapy for herself. Listening to songs like ‘Liability’, ‘The Louvre’ and ‘Writer in the Dark’ gives me a feeling of intimacy, almost likened to a close friend opening up to me about their life experience, something so personal I feel like I should not be listening to it. This is art. This is the content that should be payed for instead of streamed. The sound is complex, and audibly carefully curated to the artist’s idea of perfection. There is a reason she has been described by the late-and-great David Bowie as “the future of music” despite her being so young.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying mainstream pop, but it’s important that we give people who provide something to music in general, real artists, with the recognition they deserve and compensation for the work they put into their art.

 

Then again though, I’m a pretentious hipster so what do I know?

Amber Caitlin Sammut

Maltese-Canadian medical student; frequently described as "hyperactive", although I much prefer the term "eccentrically passionate"; interests range from art and music, gender and philosophy, to anatomy; food and vinyls will be the end of me.

Amber Caitlin Sammut

Maltese-Canadian medical student; frequently described as "hyperactive", although I much prefer the term "eccentrically passionate"; interests range from art and music, gender and philosophy, to anatomy; food and vinyls will be the end of me.