Popular Music and Lyrics in the 1950’s and Today Essay
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Music has been known to express ideas in human emotion; music can be a release from the hectic world. But people in the 50’s did not sit back and relax to the sound of “Feel It N*gga” by 50 cent. In fact, the type of songs that 50 cent sings is far from what people in the 50’s used to listen to. Even though some elements of music haven’t changed such as pace and sentimentality in love songs, many styles of music have evolved into more aggressive lyrics and/or very explicit and vulgar wording to fit some American cultures in the year 2006.
Words like “nigger”, the involvement of sexual intercourse, and the presence of violence has manifested itself into songs today, unlike the older musical generation.
One of the very little unchanged aspects of music is the pace of love songs. Love songs have two kinds of pace: fast and slow. An example of a fast paced song in the 50’s is the song by The Platters, “The Magic Touch”. This song combined the thrill of love and a fast catchy pace. This ingenious aspect is also apparent in the song by Vanessa Carlton, “A Thousand Miles”. The pace for this song is even faster than “The Magic Touch” and it is seasoned with the playing of the violin, the second fastest played instrument known to man. Another bridge between the 50’s and today is the slow pace in other love songs. In the 50’s, “Only You” by the Righteous Brothers, the pace is slow. This is evident due to the chord put in C minor which is a line of successive notes that are use as a calming remedy. In Celine Dion’s song “My Heart Will Go On”, she prolongs the final notes in order to slow the pace. The use of the flute which calms or soothes the melody of the song also aids in the slowing of the pace or tempo.
Although there are some similarities the differences out-weigh them by a great deal. In the 50’s, aggression was never used in song; it would be banned by the church and labeled as songs of the devil, because of the religious innocence in that time period. It would also be banned by the government because it did not uplift the mood and morale of the veterans who had suffered mentally and physically in World War II. On the other hand, today aggression is greatly used in many examples of music, such as DMX’s previous song “Blood of my Blood”, where he uses the quote “whitey wants die why you wanna try “. This quote is aggression directed at white Americans due to the racial discrimination in the past.
One of the few similarities in music from the 50’s and the music today is the sentimentality in love songs. In the song by the Righteous Brothers “Only you”, it is very sentimental; it signifies the singer’s untold love to someone. The words “Only you can make this world seem right” explain the extreme sentimental feelings for that person because of the over romanticized imagery. Today we also have very sentimental songs such as the musical number by Mariah Carey “Life Ain’t Worth Liven Without You”. Here even the title of the song is enough to show the sentimentality that is expressed in this song.
Finally, one important difference is censorship. In the 50’s it was impossible to find a song with explicit language, but today, songs are crammed with provocative language and subjects that can be offensive to many people. For example, the lyrics by Ludicrous in his song the 411 ” I got h*s in different area codes “or in the song “Colt 45″ by Afroman stating” I got a box o weed and a bottle of wine I’m gonna f*ck This b*tch just one more time”. Such profane language would never have been used in the 50’s. One would notice that there are more women’s rights today than in the 50’s, yet such profanity, which may be viewed as offensive in a feminist point of view, is still sold today.
In conclusion, the musical styles and rudiments of North American music have been vastly changed to reflect some aspects of U.S society today. Musical aspects such as pace and sentimentality in love songs may not have changed; however, many styles of music, in comparison to the 50’s, have evolved into more aggressive or vulgar lyrics. Simple fast tempo music can no longer elevate the mood of the majority, and the vast differences will only change even more in the years to come. In the 50’s a simple “AWAP BA DA LU BOP A WAM BAM BOOM” was the essence of music that was “hip” .Today, very large amplifiers are used to magnify the sounds of “cool” lyrics.