By Ali Schultz
How bleak would life be if there was no music? Music surrounds us during life’s most monumental moments. Whether it is the song that plays during the first dance at your wedding, the array of tracks that get you through your first ever heartbreak, or that special trigger song that you hear and instantly find yourself transported back to a memory you will forever hold near and dear to your heart. Music is constantly evolving as time progresses, but there are some songs and artists that will remain timeless.
In the ’70s, legendary music from The Beatles and endless hits from Sir Elton John flooded the charts. During the ’80s, people everywhere were learning the dance to “Thriller” and singing one of the greatest karaoke songs of all time, “Don’t Stop Believing”. During the ‘90s, grunge king, Kurt Cobain had us all smelling teen spirit and Whitney belted out one of the greatest love power ballads of all time, “I Will Always Love You.” People would patiently await the release of these artists’ records, cassettes and CDs. These times held some of the greatest musicians of all time. They had flare and style that is arguably unmatched and what made them distinguished, great artists is that they did not conform to a musical standard placed on what could be considered pop music.
Flash forward to present day where The Weekend, Biebs and Drake are three of Billboard’s Hot 100 of 2015. Trust me, I get that music taste is arbitrary. Hell, isn’t that what makes music so special? I’d be a liar if I said every time Bieber’s “Sorry” comes on I don’t jam out. Nor can I deny mimicking Drakes bizarre side shuffle dance moves when I hear “Hotline Bling.” However, it almost seems ridiculous to me to compare top charter songs of the past from musical geniuses such as Michael Jackson or The Beatles to contenders of our current top five. I can’t bring myself to say that these songs are “timeless.”
However, in the midst of the current musical mediocrity that plagues the charts, we have a few glimpses of hope. Undeniable hope for the mainstream music industry lies almost solely in the hands of artists such as London natives Adele and Sam Smith. These two are musical forces to be reckoned with, and I am a firm believer that their music will reign on to become as timeless as great predecessors I named above. In this day and age, finding contenders to be considered among the best are few and far between.
We live in an era where we can just about stream any song ever made. Why buy music when we can just search songs on Youtube or subscribe to Spotify? I am no different. Guilty as charged for streaming music. I don’t even have cable, why would I buy music when I don’t have to?
It seems this is a common consensus. I think music enthusiasts such as myself can agree there is a special kind of joy found in aimlessly wandering record stores to find vinyls or popping a CD in your car just to let it play through. Some sort of excitement arises when a CD plays through and hits your favorite song. That enjoyment is nearly unrecognizable these days, lost to streaming sources and music apps.
But artists such as Adele and Sam Smith bring back a similar nostalgic kind of excitement. This was seen especially with the release of Adele’s new album “25.” Adele became the first artist to sell over 1 million copies in two separate weeks of sales since at least 1991. The musical sensation refused to allow her music to be streamed. At a time where record sales are at an all time low, Adele is keeping the music sales industry afloat almost single handedly. “In the Lonely Hour”, written by her British counterpart, Sam Smith was also a smash hit overnight. These two singers are the best in the game.
What sets their music apart from other modern top charters might you ask? Adele and Sam do not assimilate to current pop trends. They own the artist that they are and that’s exactly what makes them pop culture royalty who could be compared to some of the greatest of all time. Adele writes songs that can bring grown men to tears. “Someone Like You,” speaks directly to the soul of anyone who has loved and lost while her newest ballad, “Hello,” has even the most dysfunctional families at holiday dinners left in silence. One of the greatest things about music is the aspect of relativity. Adele creates these love songs that people can relate to or that they hope they one day can relate to. All she has to do is belt it out and Adele leaves her listeners in awe.
I am sure one day cassettes, vinyls and CDs will entirely be a thing of the past. Future generations will only encounter CDs during a trip to a thrift shop. My children will have absolutely no idea what a “hotline bling” is, hell I barely even know what it is. They will never know that at one time Taylor Swift was a country singer. And they certainly won’t know Bieber’s “Sorry” may have been inspired by an equally famous female popstar. But mark my words, they will know every single word to “Hello.”
Ali Schultz studies journalism. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @AliSchultzzz.