Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pop Music as Liberalizing

Alex Ross writes an interesting post today about music and power. He poses the question:
In general, pop music is still seen as an irrepressibly liberating, liberalizing force. Is it so?
That was certainly the received wisdom of the pop music of the 50s and 60s. And it continued to be the received wisdom for long after. But surely, if it were ever the case, it is no longer? Here is what is near the top of YouTube at the moment:

Just off the top of my head, isn't this a compendium of things we might be better off liberated from? The synth, the drum machine, the make-up, the costumes, the need to spend half your life in the gym, the need to be constantly wagging the booty, the relentless surface of it all! Back in the 50s and 60s, the argument could be made that rock n roll was a nearly physical manifestation of sexuality:

But is this the same thing as being a liberating force? It might be if you still believe in the "sexual revolution" and the "Playboy philosophy". Honestly, whichever side you might be on, isn't this just an attempt to evaluate music by non-musical criteria? Now that, I'm not in favor of. Good song, bad song, sure, but as soon as you try and say liberalizing or not liberalizing, I think you drift away from the music and into politics. Music can be and is used for political purposes, but that should not be how we evaluate it.

No comments: