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The Blue & Gray Press | July 20, 2019

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In music industry, mindless catchiness wins over intellectual projects

In music industry, mindless catchiness wins over intellectual projects


On a season 5 episode of the popular show,“Louie,” Louis C.K. walks into a coffee shop. Every customer in the coffee shop is mindlessly complaining, and all are having zombie-like interactions with each other.

Louis has a very blunt humor in general, and I love it. However, in this instance it is also insanely depressing; he encapsulates the society we live in spectacularly. The mindless nature of the coffee shop customers, for example, is something I see everyday.

Media, along with advertising and mainstream music, are the sole fuelers of our society’s mindless nature, and it deeply bothers me. What is causing me to be this way, now more than ever, is the recent popularity of my favorite EDM (Electronic Dance Music) artist ODESZA.

Their single, “Say My Name,” was produced roughly five months ago, and through major marketing strategies, ODESZA has finally stuck its foot through the door of mainstream music.

The whole thing is bittersweet. “Say My Name” is one of ODESZA’s more simplistic mixes. To clarify, nothing about ODESZA is simplistic, for I still have not listened to anything like them before. This particular song, however, is simply more basic than their underground mixes.

Their album, “No.Sleep,” which was produced over a year ago, should have been their claim to fame, but nowhere is this album even mentioned on mainstream media sites in the U.S.

The transitions and the layers of ODESZA’s beats show the scrupulous nature of their music. Therefore, I would rather see them get praised for their hard work, which is more prevalent in their “No.Sleep” mixes.

The same thing happened to The Neighbourhood. “Sweater Weather,” their 2013 single from the album, “I Love You,” hit the charts hard and sent shock waves through the nation. Released that same year was their album, “The Love Collection,” which featured one of my favorite songs, “West Coast.”

The catchiness of “Sweater Weather” out-shined the intellectual and captivating nature of the songs released on “The Love Collection.” It thoroughly upsets me that people would rather listen to plain, catchy songs rather than stimulating and evocative music.

It is for this reason that I stopped listening to the radio roughly three years ago, and I have not missed it. The incessant over-playing of mediocre beats and thoughtless lyrics just evoke nothing but measly dopamine, if that, that makes your brain happy. Is there anything wrong with being happy? No.

It is merely the fact that mainstream music ensures that you are happy, but not critically thinking. The majority of underground music is the exact opposite.

For me, music is a connection to my physical life; I can connect with the beat, the lyrics and even the instruments through my everyday experiences and memories. I listen to music with layers, with meaning.

Indie bands such as Modest Mouse, The Shins and others died out, although Modest Mouse is currently making a come back because their music did not change for mainstream listeners.

“Float On” was the only song by Modest Mouse that ever got popular enough to infiltrate mainstream music. It was even featured on one of the Guitar Hero set lists. However, “Float On” is one of Modest Mouse’s more bland and stagnant songs, with lyrics that are relatable, but still incomparable to their other songs.

Modest Mouse did not change their music to fit society. They kept on making their strung-out, raspy, innovative and, honestly, just strange music, and therefore the majority of people forgot them. I, however, bought their t-shirts and dreamed of going to one of their shows, idolizing them for years to come.

If you are one disinclined to listen to underground, then I suppose T- Swift is your best bet to understanding this notion of mainstream artist warping.

Everyone knows that Taylor Swift started out usurping her southern belle look: blonde hair, blue eyes, long legs and all. She took the nation by surprise by climbing to the top and stabilizing herself as a major pop-artist, who, let’s face it, is now a force to be reckoned with.

Not too many artists get that opportunity. Most have to adapt to the world that their music is coming into, a world that might not be ready for the different, unique and intellectual nature of their sounds.

Both AER and Schwayze are two more prime example of this, although their music has a strong following on the east coast, their reggae roots are not a prominent part of the music industry style today.

I am one listener among a surprising number of many others who is fed up with the mindless tunes that escape from the speakers of many, fueled by mainstream music outlets. Individuality should be praised, not put down.


  1. Alice b.

    finally a reaction to the pop music craze- enough with Taylor Swift

  2. Chad

    What about Kendrick Lamar’s newest project “To Pimp A Butterfly?” It has been praised as both a amazing social commentary on African-American culture, and a sonically-pleasing set of songs that have topped the all of the charts. I agree partially with this article, but I think it focuses too much on radio play and not other sources such as the top lists on iTunes and Spotify. These lists show a great amount of albums with “intellectual” content.

    Another factor is what actually constitutes an “intellectual” piece of music? This term varies person to person and really is opinion based. If you want to be technical, would you prefer School House Rock to be played on the radio over Taylor Swift?