*Original paper submitted in American Pop Culture class – subject of Marxism*
Original music chosen for said subject – one type of music for two separate decades:
1960’s: “Woodstock” Crosby Stills and Nash, “Freedom” Richie Havens, “California Dreamin’” The Mamas and the Papas, “LA Woman” The Doors, “The Wind Cries Mary” Jimi Hendrix.
1990’s: “All Apologies” Nirvana, “I Stay Away” Alice in Chains, “Under the Bridge” Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Jeremy” Pearl Jam, “Black Hole Sun” Soundgarden.
The genre of music I have chosen is Rock and Roll. Rock and roll transcends each decade, but reflects the “mood” of the decade whether it is social, political, romanticism, and sex. It is abundantly clear that the two decades that I have chosen i.e., the 1960’s and the 1990’s are complete polar opposites. In the 1960’s, this is the decade of change. Attitudes about being involved in the Vietnam War, the sexual revolution, drug-usage and politics emerged during this time period. Students and young adults during this time rose up against the “establishment” by participating in protests, free love and experimenting through new age/religious groups. In the 1990’s, was a decade of immerging international wars, terrorism, the beginning of cell phones and the internet. It was a decade of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” “The Cosby Show” and “Friends.” Excess meant success. The music in the 1990’s ranged from Pop with Michael Jackson to the beginning of the Grunge or Alternative rock movement.
The music that emerged from these decades i.e., Grunge and Alternative Rock and the 1960’s rock did have a similar theme albeit it is not regarding love or sex. It was a revolt to the “norm.” What I mean by this is the establishment to dictate what is popular. Prior to the 1960’s, music was in the form of Perry Como, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Once the Beatles and the Rolling Stones exploded into the rock scene, music became a medium to deliver a message. To be free-spirited, to do what a person wanted to do i.e., which could include shaking ones hips! These decades challenged people to listen to a message. In the 1960’s, it was political, or a song about drugs. In the 1990’s, Grunge and Alternative music challenged the rock norms of the typical “Aerosmith” song and discussed taboo subjects at the time such as bullying, or drug abuse. It was a different type of rock music all together and it became popular quite quickly.
I disagree with Adorno’s on his views of music and popular culture. The musical choices that I have chosen i.e., Rock in the 1960’s and 1990’s were not musical patterns that are repeated over and over again until they are found to be “commercially successful.” Music from both decades forced people to think about what they were listening so to say that it was all “pre-digested” would be ridiculous. Furthermore, the music I have chosen would not promote “passive listening.” Passive listening would infer inattention and attraction. Finally the songs chosen challenged a person; it did not encourage people to accept the current “status quo” whether it’s in regards to politics or disorder. (Storey, 2009)
In closing, in determining if the music I have chosen is “articulated” (Storey, 2009) one can point to the beginning of the grunge era during the 1990’s. Grunge music came from musicians who were tired of the music industry machine, and created their own genre of music. Ultimately, those musicians became incredibly popular and in turn, generated profits for the recording industry and for themselves.
Storey, J. (2009). Cultural Theory and Popular Culture, An Introduction. Longman.