Pop Music in 2017: Glum and Glummer
Attention! This New York Times 12/22/17 article is a must read for youthworkers! Our students' world is a desperate one and the songs they are clicking to listen to reflect (by the billions of streams) how widespread this issue is. Beware (but dont avoid) Explicit Lyrics Ahead!
“Push me to the edge/All my friends are dead,” Lil Uzi Vert intones in “XO TOUR Llif3,” at first in a matter-of-fact chant and later in a slurred, raw singsong. The backing track is a bass line going nowhere slowly, oozing to bind together twitches of electronic percussion and little tinkles and twangs that drift in and out. The lyrics, rapped and sung in an assortment of scratchy voices, juggle the bitterness of a crumbling relationship alongside career boasts and druggy, suicidal ramblings.
“XO TOUR Llif3” isn’t some avant-garde obscurity or oddball cult discovery; it’s a major hit. Since its release in February, it has been streamed half a billion times on Spotify alone, with more than 130 million views of its YouTube video.
The tone of that song — mournful, dazed, sullen, traumatized, self-absorbed, defensive, remote, morbid — was pervasive in the pop of 2017. Hit radio and popularity-driven algorithmic playlists lingered on bleak, bummed-out sounds and scenarios, stringing together music that shares the feeling of being alienated, unprotected and besieged.
And why not? Consider the pressures on the millennial and younger listeners who are clicking to choose a song. They’re making their way into an era of accelerating income inequality. They’re awash in social media that nationalizes peer pressure, that expects intricately maintained self-branding and that shows — with photos — how just about everyone else is having a better life.
They are on college-education tracks that could leave them with a staggering debt burden, or they face the prospect of working in a dead-end retail or service-sector job under the ruthless exploitation of a gig economy.
There is so much more... read enough to break your heart for our students and motivate you to join us in the battle for kids' hearts, souls, and earbuds
Check out our Mainstream RE:Tuned Section to keep you up with and equipped to discuss the pop songs your kids are hearing