Is Music Really Getting Worse?


Music is getting worse. Much, much worse.

This week 50 years ago, The Beatles occupied the first five spots of the Billboard Hot 100 with, in order, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Twist and Shout,” “She Loves You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Please Please Me.”

Today, the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 is “I’m The One” by DJ Khaled Featuring Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance The Rapper & Lil Wayne.

Just to compare the lyrics, take a look below.

From the “I’m The One”:

“Yeah, you’re lookin’ at the truth

The money never lie, no

I’m the one, yeah, I’m the one,

Early mornin’ in the dawn

Know you wanna ride now.”

And from “Can’t Buy Me Love”:

I’ll give you all I got to give if you say you love me too

I may not have a lot to give but what I got I’ll give to you

I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love.”

Now, “I’m The One” is super catchy. But catchy doesn’t mean that it’s a great song or a piece of artistic genius.

“I’m The One” was written by a long, long list of writers: Khaled Khaled (better known as DJ Khaled), Jason Boyd, Quavious Marshall, Chancelor Bennett, Dwayne Carter Jr., Nicholas Balding, David Park, Bobby Brackins and Ray “August Grant” Jacobs. It leaves me wondering how hands-on the musicians featured on the track really were in the process of creating the song.

“Can’t Buy Me Love” was a collaboration between two of The Beatles’s members whose ability to write together would become one of the most legendary partnerships in musical history – John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

To be fair, the Beatles did have a career that spanned a decade and has been the subject of countless documentaries, books and films. The band currently has 25 Grammy awards. The individual members themselves had very successful solo careers, too: Paul McCartney has 12 individual Grammys, John Lennon was awarded 4 Grammys, Richard Starkey (a.k.a. Ringo Starr) has two and George Harrison won five.

DJ Khaled’s musical career began 11 years ago when he released “Listennn…The Album.” To date, DJ Khaled has been nominated for two Grammy awards but hasn’t won.

From an objective standpoint and apparently in the opinion of the Grammy award givers, popular music today is just not as good as it used to be.

No one today can compare with artists such as Queen, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Tupac Shakur and The Ramones. These musicians changed music and American culture in various ways.

Elvis Presley became a music and film icon, known still as the “The King.” David Bowie and Freddie Mercury from Queen became and hugely important figures not only in the music industry but also in the gay community. Tupac is remembered as one of the hip-hop genre’s most important figures. The Ramones contributed hugely to punk rock music genre in their time.

You would be hard-pressed to find the level of artistry that they each put into producing their music. The Beatles wrote all of their own music and even invented new ways to use the music studio that bands ever since have been inspired by. The Beach Boys’ album “Pet Sounds” was written entirely by the band’s leader and co-founder Brian Wilson, and is still hailed as one of the most influential albums of all time, called a “pop masterpiece” by Rolling Stone Magazine.

It’s hard for me to think of any successful album made in the last ten years that demonstrates as much songwriting talent, musical composition skill, and instrumental fluency as Fleetwood Mac’s dreamy “Rumours,” The Beatles industry-changing “Rubber Soul” or Nirvana’s unapologetic “Nevermind.”

While there are musicians today who are definitely iconic figures, such as Beyonce and Lady Gaga, and there is good music being made, I still believe that the quality of music has declined in the last twenty years and is going to get worse before it gets better.

Commentaries are the expressed opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of The Fourcast staff, its adviser or any member of the Hockaday community.

Ashlynn Long – Staff Writer