This Is America: Nicole Arbour defends ‘women’s edit’ of Childish Gambino hit


A YouTuber who created a “women’s edit” of Childish Gambino’s This Is America video says it’s been “misinterpreted”.

Nicole Arbour describes her post as a “female positive/empowerment video”.

She’s faced strong criticism online – including accusations of belittling “black pain” and “stealin[g] our culture for money”.

Others told her to “stop cheapening black art and creativity” – but Nicole says people are “wrongly portraying this as white vs black”

Donald Glover’s original This Is America music video was released on 5 May and was praised for its commentary on issues like racism and police violence.

One week later, Nicole posted her own version online.

Many people have argued that her video makes light of “black pain and oppression”, as well as “editing out the race issues in favour of the feminist issues.”

Nicole responded on social media, saying “this was not the intent or theme at all”.

“It was created with every intention of bringing a light to women’s experiences,” she said.

“It was a tongue in cheek way to give additional glory to what I believe is the most impactful piece of art in recent years.

“Due to the sensitive nature of the original, I understand why some people are wrongly portraying this as white vs black,” she added.

Nicole ended her statement with a call for others to “create their own version of this video”.

“Through this honesty, I believe we can discover a new level of empathy and understanding for each other.”

This isn’t the first time a Nicole Arbour video has caused controversy.

In 2015, she uploaded “Dear Fat People”, which was called out for fat-shaming.

“That video was made to offend people,” she said at the time, addressing the video on US chat show The View.

“It’s just satire, I’m just being silly.”


Our first Freedom For Musicians Recording Artists from across the globe

It is with great pride that we present to you, FFM Records’ catalogue of our very own recording artists. As FFM grows, so does our record label and our first artists come from four different continents and musical genres.

Introducing

Miss Dee by Dita Nurdian

FFM Artist – Dita Nurdian

Dita Nurdian is an Indonesian writer of electronica and dance music. Her passion for this genre is evident in her prolific output. At FFM Records, we have released 4 of Dita’s latest tracks and you can download them here, Beatport and stream on Spotify.

Measure of Abstract by Slawomir Rataj

FFM Artist – Slawomir Rataj

Slawomir Rataj is a guitarist and composer from Poland. Recently released under the FFM Records label,  Slawomir’s debut album ‘Measure of Abstract’ is an instrumental album that combines electronica with Slawomir’s phenomenal guitar playing.

You can download the album here, at itunes and stream on Spotify.

Transformation by Paul Hinman

FFM Artist – Paul Hinman

Paul Hinman is a UK based singer songwriter whose songs reflect  events that he has experienced in a rich and varied life. You can download Paul’s debut album here and stream on Spotify.

Raag Puriya Dhanashree by Ankur Biplav

FFM Artist – Ankur Biplav

Ankur Biplav is an Indian Classical Music singer specialising in South Indian Carnatic music.

Indian classical music has two foundational elements, raga and tala. The raga forms the fabric of a melodic structure, while the tala measures the time cycle.

The raga gives the artist a palette to build the melody from sounds, while the tala provides them with a creative framework for rhythmic improvisation using time.

FFM Artist – Andy Anies

Andy Anies is a Songwriter with thirty years of songwriting experience who has made it in the Gospel Music arena with 5 Albums. He has written songs for various artists as a ghostwriter. Andy is a versatile Stage Performer who makes it live on Stand-up Comedy, as he plays on the Solo Guitar over his mouth-organ.

FFM Artist – Debdeep Misra

Born in 1993, Debdeep Misra the grandson of legendary vocalist Pandit Bishnu Sebak Misra of Benaras gharana(piyari gharana) loved music enough to start listening, appreciating and learning at a very tender age of four under the guidance of his mother smt. Banani Misra-one of the desciples of Pt. A.kanan and Vidushi Girija Devi and his father who is disciple of pt. Mani lal Nag.



Listen to the song, close your eyes and feel the waves of your soul -The Last Eclipse



My Surreal Music  welcomes you in a fusion of classic and electronic sounds.  Are you ready to get entranced in a fantasy atmosphere, experiencing darkness, love and desire? Sometimes in life we experience a partial eclipse or a total eclipse of the heart. I hope the eclipse can be also a rebirth for people who are searching and desire to find themselves.




The latest track from Deena Ade – Melo



Deena Ade is an alternative artist, who has been described as raw and powerful in her vocal and lyrical delivery. Reminiscent of the Eryka Badu and late Amy Winehouse to name a few. 

Melo Produced THABEATSMITH is the official single from her debut project ‘The Cries Of My Subconscious’

She explores a world of an Alpha female, who’s one desire is to capture the attention and love of another. Miss SLUTWALK herself proves once again to go against the grain in this song. Entwining her sultry vocals with her words of seduction.

Born Medina Agboluaje, the first of four children, music has been a substantial goal of Medina since the age of eight. As a child Medina performed around London for a local charity, which eventually led to performing for the late Papa Madiba in this state visit to London. Over twelve years later Medina can be found performing weekly in London’s hottest underground spots.

Having found much comfort in the training received by mentors such Beats by Sarz and other industry power players, Deena is now ready to face the music industry with the intensity she believes it is lacking. Using a name to define her sound and style can be quite daunting, but under the fabric of her stage performances lies a blueprint of influences. For example Amy Winehouse, Asa, Beyonce, Wizkid, Fela Kuti. 

Deena Ade is currently releasing a song a month for a year which will be followed up by an LP project, set to be released in November titled “THE FEMINIST”. As her talents and fan base continues to grow, she emphasises on people not to over look as her, as she is the future of the African Music Industry. As she says ” It doesn’t matter what people say, as long as they like my music’. 

 


ABBA announce first new songs for 35 years


Swedish four-piece take to Instagram to announce two releases that will form part of an ‘avatar tour project’

Abba have announced that they have written and recorded their first new songs since they split in 1983.

The Swedish four-piece, who had nine No 1 hits in the UK between 1974 and 1980, and who have sold hundreds of millions of records worldwide, announced on Instagram that they had recorded two new songs for a project in which avatars of the band will perform.

The band said in a statement: “The decision to go ahead with the exciting Abba avatar tour project had an unexpected consequence. We all felt that, after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the recording studio. So we did. And it was like time had stood still and we had only been away on a short holiday. An extremely joyful experience!”

One of the two new songs that resulted, called I Still Have Faith in You, will feature in a TV special to air in December.

The statement concluded: “We may have come of age, but the song is new. And it feels good.”

Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus revealed details of the band’s forthcoming project in Brussels earlier this week. The centerpiece is the two-hour TV show co-produced by NBC and the BBC, which will see the band perform as computer-generated avatars. Ulvaeus said the band had been digitally scanned and “de-aged” to look like they did in 1979, when they performed their third and final tour.

The avatars are then set to tour the world from next year.

Abba formed in Stockholm in 1972. They comprised two couples: Ulvaeus and Agnetha Fältskog; and Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, all of whom had enjoyed musical careers in Sweden. The group burst on to the international stage after winning the Eurovision song contest in Brighton in 1974 with their song Waterloo.

From the mid-70s until they split, Abba built up a formidable arsenal of global hits including Knowing Me, Knowing You, Take a Chance on Me, Dancing Queen and The Name of the Game – all of which reached No 1 in the UK.

Fältskog and Lyngstad were the lead singers; Andersson and Ulvaeus composed the songs. Never less than impeccably produced and performed, Abba’s records were critically disdained at the time, but their popularity has endured. Their 1992 compilation Abba Gold has sold 30m copies – more than 5m of those in the Britain – and spent 833 weeks in the UK album charts.

Their jukebox musical Mamma Mia! debuted in the West End in 1999 and is still running both in London and worldwide; its website claims that it has been seen by 60 million people in 440 cities.

The stage show was adapted into a film in 2008, which grossed $615m (£447m) worldwide. A sequel, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, will be released in June. The actor Lily James – who is set to appear alongside the cast of the first film including Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried and Colin Firth – told the BBC last week: “There’s lot of songs in there, lots of new ones. Lots of ones, actually, that weren’t in my repertoire of Abba and I think they’re going to be huge hits again, and reawaken the love of Abba.”

Abba’s split in 1983 followed the divorces of both couples. Ulvaeus and Andersson went on to write two musicals, including Chess – a revival by the English National Opera opens on Friday in London – before largely devoting themselves to Abba’s legacy. Fältskog and Lyngstad have kept much lower profiles, though Fältskog – long claimed to be a recluse – returned to pop music with an album, A, which was released in 2013.

The group have long held out against lucrative offers to reform – they were reported to have been offered $1bn to play a concert in 2000. In 2014, Ulvaeus told Billboard: “you will never see us on stage again … we don’t need the money, for one thing.”

Peter Robinson, editor of Popjustice, described the announcement as “the biggest pop news of the 21st century. Most fans grudgingly admired Abba’s refusal to record new music, but I think we all sometimes daydreamed about the band possibly, maybe, one day having a rethink at the right time, on the right terms and for the right reasons, which seems to be what’s happened here.” He added: “It’s a pop miracle.”


Introducing the brilliant Lisa Ballew – Why Did You Wash Me Away?



The talent for writing and crafting a song aren’t always innate, but with Lisa Ballew it was something that was instinctive. Raised on the west coast of California, she connected with a deep-rooted musical family tree and began writing her own music at the early age of 13.

At 20 she ventured to Nashville to grow her musical prowess and feed and perform in a creative community. She eventually returned to the West Coast to be near family and continued to develop her art. She has crafted hundreds of songs that are ready for an audience.

“I think there was a period where my songs were cathartic and more for me…an outlet to express how I felt and saw life during both beautiful and difficult times. I finally had a realization that I had been stowing away my songs, my gifts and talents. I felt a strong sense that it was time for me to put it all out there. I needed to move forward in my musical journey and share my songs.”

That journey lead to the creation and release of “Ready For The Ride.” It showcases a pop sensibility and Lisa’s ability and passion to create songs that are relevant and commercial. This is just a glimpse of a deep catalog of songs waiting to be heard. The ride is just beginning…… 

Large H

Visit Lisa Here and check out the full album




Behind the Original Cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody”


Go to the profile of Daniel Nester

Queen’s mega-hit has been interpreted countless times. But who did it first?

Three years ago, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Queen classic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” complete with a reissue of the single’s original artwork for Record Store Day’s Black Friday and a Queen-endorsed brew, aptly named “Bohemian Lager,” made in — where else? — the Bohemia region of the Czech Republic.

Over the years, the Freddie Mercury-penned song has evolved from a radio staple to competition showcase for melismatic singers everywhere to something akin to public domain. There’s countless parodies: “Bohemian Carsody,” a car-themed parody by the all-female comedian troupe SketchShe, has racked up almost 30 million hits. There’s also ascience-themed “Bohemian Gravity,” College Humor’s “Bro-hemian Rhapsody,” “Bohemian Momsody,” the Minecraft-themed “Bohemian Craftsody,” and “Nintendohian Rhapsody.” And that’s just scratching the surface.

Interpretations of “Bohemian Rhapsody” also abound. Ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro’s TED Talk cover from 2010 has nine million views and counting. American Idol’s Adam Lambert’s rendition of “Bo Rhap” led to a job playing Mercury himself in a biopic set to release this year. Kanye West, the supremely self-confident rap artist and provocateur, opened his headlining set at Glastonbury Music Festival with a “Mama” heard ‘round the world in a performance that could charitably be described as pitch-imperfect. Remember Robert Wilkison? Arrested for driving while intoxicated in Alberta, Canada, he proclaimed his innocence with a full-throated “Bohemian Rhapsody” from the back of a squad car. He racked up 11 million hits. They did not let him go.

But who made the very first “Bohemian Rhapsody” cover?

Perhaps 1982’s recording by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra?

Or maybe the 1987 cover by Bad News, the comedy metal band?

Good guesses, but both are wrong.

The very first “Bohemian Rhapsody” cover was recorded for a Top of The Popscompilation volume and released in December 1975, three months after the original song was released on the airwaves. Not to be confused with the television show by the same name, the Top of The Pops series were budget-priced compilations that featured studio musicians and singers recreating chart-toppers, and usually featured a scantily clad model as the album art. We’re talking everyone from the Supremes to the Sex Pistols. Found on Top of The Pops #49, the “Bohemian Rhapsody” cover was recorded at De Lane Lea Studios, next to Wembley Stadium, where — it might be noted — Queen recorded early demos for tracks like “Keep Yourself Alive.”

Recently I tracked down Tony Rivers, one of the four Top of The Pops singers who recorded that first “Bohemian Rhapsody” cover. He was also the vocal arranger on the sessions, a thankless task for which he was well-prepared: Rivers’ long and varied career includes working on tracks from early 60s vocal groups Harmony Grass and the Castaways, recordings with Pink Floyd and INXS, and singing backup for Cliff Richard and Elton John — all of which he’s written about in his book, I’m Nearly Famous: The Tales of a Likely Lad.

Rivers was kind enough to let me pick his brain over email about the original “Bohemian Rhapsody” cover.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.


Everyone covers or parodies “Bohemian Rhapsody” these days — from the Muppets, Phish, Flaming Lips, William Shatner, Zac Brown Band, Kanye West — everyone climbs Bo Rhap Mountain, it seems.

Well, not many could manage to put this together, least of all Kanye West!

But you were the first.

I have always assumed that [it was], mainly because harmony wasn’t many singers’ strong point at that time, and it was the most complicated arrangement to learn in a few days and record.

Tony Rivers in the 1970s.

A few days? The original famously took three, four weeks.

There were very few around who could have done it that quickly. It was a bit easier for us four, all coming up with vocal group backgrounds. All four of us sang on “Bohemian Rhapsody.” We usually took a day to lay down lead and backing vocal tracks, and would be on our way home by 11pm. Not this time!

So it wasn’t easy to do, then.

No. With due modesty it was difficult for us because of the time restriction — maybe two or three days to live with it (once the committee had chosen it).

By “committee” you mean the people at Top of The Pops?

A small group of Hallmark employees, along with producer Bruce Baxter, would sit down prior to the planned sessions and choose the potential hits. That, of course, was the secret to the label’s success. I have no idea what their thoughts were in choosing “Bohemian Rhapsody” other than “what an amazing record!”

The cover is pretty much perfect, note-for-note. How did you pull that off?

As usual, I had the job of sorting out the vocal arrangement. I had to listen and memorize the parts. John Perry and Ken Gold were also listening and were both assigned lead lines that suited their voices, which they did brilliantly I think. Oh, and let’s not forget the late Stu Calver, who was the very high voice on the Roger Taylor parts — the “Gallileo”’s and so on.

Normally this wouldn’t be too big a deal, but with this song, I had to sit for hours at home listening, making notes, and memorizing vocal lines — apart from the other tracks we had to do that day!

The time-consuming job of layering track after track of vocals ’til we got the sound and the voicing right seemed to take forever. But in the end, it had been a great opportunity to find out how that song was put together.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around you doing all of this in a few days, to be honest.

The harmony parts were obviously part of the problem, but they are not difficult harmonies. The problem was lack of familiarity with the whole thing. We could copy sections, piece by piece. The other problem was the time needed to achieve a similar “sound.” That kind of mass tracking takes time, and wasn’t usually available in big lumps. This was something with many lumps!

We were helped greatly by the fact that all three of us had good range in our voices with JP and Stu blessed with fantastic falsetto range.

I believe we spent the early part and the rest of the day, singing whatever vocals or harmonies needed on the other songs that had been selected.

You worked on other songs at the same time?

Memory tells me at around 7pm we started on Bo Rhap, bit by bit, until each section sounded good, and added voices until it did. We finished and hit the A406 [a main London road] around 7 the next morning in a daze, in rush hour traffic, with “Gallileo”s running round our heads.

I have nothing but admiration for the man who created it: Freddie Mercury. What a record.

A bit different from something like [The Sweet’s] “Little Willie!”

The original version made a splash, of course, but the TOTP version made headlines as well. Kenny Everett, who famously played the test pressing of the original track, also played your cover.

Kenny Everett was a big name at that time , and decided to see if the listeners could tell which version had taken months and a fortune to record, and which was done in a few hours on a budget album! He played our version and Queen’s, cutting between the two, asking “Can you tell which one’s the ten-bob version, and which one cost six million quid to make?”

Did you ever hear from the Queen camp regarding your cover? I know you worked with Cliff Richard for quite some time, and Freddie Mercury and he were friends.

Ken Gold was introduced to Freddie whilst on an Elton John tour of the USA. Ken decided to ask Freddie what he thought about “that cover.” He looked pensive, then added, “Hmm, an interesting version!”

I did meet Brian May once. He said, “Hi, Tony! Roger and I used to go to see you live at Loughborough Uni/College, and you were a very big influence on our harmonies!” Not bad, eh?



Introducing Sara Strudwick – From an island bursting with talent



By Roger Moisan

Measuring just 12 miles by 5 and situated just off the coast of France, Jersey CI is absolutely bursting at the seams with musical talent. Sara Strudwick is one of the island’s most precious jewels. A singer songwriter and awesome performer, Sara, now based here in London is set to take the music scene by storm. You can see Sara performing live at the Spice of Life, Soho on 19th May.

Sara Strudwick
Sara Strudwick

 

Sara started singing at the age of 13, growing up as an artist on the island of Jersey.

She became a teacher at her music school at the age of 16, while gaining experience in live performance and in the studio. Sara began her youtube channel in 2014 using her work in Dream Box Studios with the help of the producer Jack Helm. In 2014 her live performance of her first ever original brought her to the attention of UK talent scouts.

During her time in Jersey Sara had the opportunity to support some major artists such as James Arthur, Jess Glynne, The Vamps, Tom Jones and more.

Sara moved to London at the age of 17 to study music at university, and began working with producer Tim Arnold, opening for Blake Morgan where she was introduced as The Reservations ‘Emerging artist of 2017’ in London’s Soho. Sara has since gone on to play festivals such as Burtonfest, Burton on Trent and Septemberfest at Donnington Park.

Sara most recently took to the stage at the Half Moon Putney in October of 2017 with a completely new line up before stepping down from performing to begin writing an EP.

Sara Strudwick
Sara Strudwick at the Spice of Life 19th May 2018

New York’s Blake Morgan – “Sara is already an artist who is truly original”

Managing director of  VMGSounds, Adam Corns – “Go give Sara Strudwick a follow. I was really impressed with her whole set at #BurtonFest2017 in particular Sara’s flawless vocals. Awesome band and backing vocalists to. Certainly one to watch out for.”

Songwriters news UK – 23rd October 2017

“Sara Strudwick –  Sara is gaining all kinds of accolades as her career progresses , she’s got the looks the talent and the support as she hits the stage with a full band and a massive vocal and two backing singers – check out Sara’s timeline and media – She’s played Donnington –  A seriously BIG DEAL for a rising star !! and even tho she hinted on-stage that she was new to songwriting  – we would argue differently – her material is strong , intense, upbeat and is gonna work well in any festival / live band / party venue  with some AWESOME Guitar Rifts to seal the deal !! 

Forgive Me It’s Not You  – this is an awesome song – her material is strong and engagingly listenable  and –  along with the band , had the audience hooked!”

Sara Strudwick
Contact and follow Sara at her Facebook home

Sara Strudwick

 


Introducing Singer Songwriter – Kyle Davis and Vessbroz


Kyle Davis just released a Dark Pop/EDM album with the international production team Vessbroz! It’s live on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube and all other stores.

As an artist, a powerful voice has the ability to capture an audience the moment they step on stage. Pair that soulful voice with gifted songwriting and what you have is not only a gift, but a rarity. Singer/Songwriter Kyle Davis is one of those rarities.

A natural storyteller with an inevitable creative talent for writing and singing, Kyle Davis knew from the start he was destined for a career in music. His life has revolved around the creation of
music and live performance, so much that it has become the very pulse of his existence. The Massachusetts-born Davis realized his love for singing at the age of 5. His writing abilities were also not long-hidden.

Everything about music breathes life into Davis, evoking any and all emotions. With lyrics designed to carry not just a tune into the mind of its listener, Davis’ music is created with the intention to give hope to its audience, offering a greater purpose in life. The piano-savvy artist remains nothing short of the music industry’s missing link.

By the time he began recording, Davis’ career in music remained inevitable, as his path of becoming a star was set into concrete. His outside-the-box musical blueprint blends an energy and sound that molds the essence of dark pop with R&B. His lyrics are personal, honest, and real. Drawing in a strong fan base with his filter-free style, Davis thrives off his open book mentality, allowing his fans to experience his blood, sweat, and heartbreak through carefully
concocted lyrics and powerful live performances.

Vessbroz
Check out Lost by Vessbroz on Spotify



Popular Music and American Culture


Go to the profile of Richard K. Yu

The state of popular music in the United States is arguably determined by a diverse set of subgroups of individuals with similar backgrounds and life experience, to which that popular music holds appeal.

The very idea of popular music is inherently tied and determined by the tastes of groups within the population, so the evolution and characteristics of popular music are more intimately connected with the groups with which it is associated. On a broader scale, large political and cultural events relevant to one period of time also represent an axis upon which this set of tastes in the population might vary.

For instance, recalling the periods of historically popular music, it may be observed that some political or cultural trends inform the popularity of certain genres: the counter culture of the 1960s along with the advancements in civil rights liberties for minorities, the appearance of rock and roll in the 1970s and 1980s, and so forth. The temporal aspect of popular music often can be used to characterize the events and moments of that generation of individuals because of this influence of historical political events on popular music.

Though the music industry has largely desegregated today in light of changes in legal practices surrounding civil rights, the populations that listen and engender popular music in the United States are still similarly divided, as indicated by the drastically different forms and messages that appeal to different groups, some which document a history of marginalization.

Upon reflection of the types of popular music present in contemporary times, one often imagines the upbeat, idealistic tunes of popular music or popular music related to social trends. Such types of popular music today may represent a degree of escapism in society, but they are more often indicative of the current feelings of a specific group. Notably, the relative peace of the 21st century has allowed for music commenting on inconsequential social idiosyncrasies to emerge and become popular.

Justin Bieber

However, this feeling of peace that has manifested for majority groups in the United States often shuns more serious and pressing social issues also present in the nation, and in this way, a population’s indulgence in peace may be considered a sort of escapism from the harsher social realities of marginalized groups. For instance, consider the set of popular songs such as “#SEFLIE” by the Chainsmokers, “How Deep Is Your Love?” by Calvin Harris, “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift, or “What Do You Mean?” by Justin Bieber.

These songs either mock current social trends or behaviors, or they expound on a certain set of feelings, often related to the transience of romance. The appearance of popular music that satirizes a specific set of popular social behaviors should indicate the presence of a sort of flippancy or superficiality in that social paradigm. This call to attention to such flippant behaviors (taking a superfluous amount of selfies at social events) is enhanced when the actual behavior is constituted by conspicuous and repeated performative acts made with an attention-seeking goal.

Picture Source: Calvin Harris

Moreover, the other songs listed above all demonstrate the existence of such a superficial social paradigm in relation to romance. Calvin Harris’ video for “How Deep Is Your Love?” consists of a repetitive set of party scenes that include a multitude of time skips, to illustrate the briefness of these social and romantic encounters.

The question that is repeated in the video itself “How deep is you love?” almost seeks to escape from this endless cycle of brief and meaningless encounters, longing for profundity and depth in relationships.

Picture Source: Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” more explicitly refers to this idea of brief romantic encounters that are torn apart by their unstable foundation and beginnings. Consider how: “I can make the bad guys good for a weekend”, one of the verses of “Blank Space”, illustrates this dynamic relationship between male commitment and female sexuality that stands as the motivation for the briefness of romance in modern contexts.

“What Do You Mean?” by Justin Bieber once again describes a similar model of romance, referring to the insecurities and uncertainties of young love. Though love songs have always persisted in popular music in some form, popular music today documents a very real degeneration germane to romance.

The songs that receive hundreds of millions of views and the songs that are at the forefront of the public consciousness deal with the collective inability of individuals to reconcile romantic desire, sexual interest, and long-term commitment.

Music, in this case, presents a cathartic quality to all the individuals who find themselves in the unpredictable and unreliable landscape of romance today, and the popularity of such music represents a collective acknowledgment of these issues.

Picture Source: Jake Gyllenhaal

The cathartic quality offers individuals a sort of escape from their own dissatisfaction with failed romantic endeavors (i.e. Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal resulting in the “I Knew You Were Trouble” single). However, the popularity of such musical forms also detracts from the more darker aspects of society ignored by the majority as they engaged in their self-absorbed escapist fantasies through the performativity of music.

What are these darker aspects of society, spurned and ostensibly shoved under the rug by the majority in favor of this escapist romantic narrative? The very continuation of social inequality and abuse of the civil rights of minorities is documented in music.

The American music industry may have formally desegregated, but its population is still very much unequal and cordoned off into groups, roughly by race and socioeconomic class. Consider Kendrick Lamar’s recent single “Alright”, where he deals with the moral considerations and consequences of rampant materialism, as well as the struggle of the African American people in a society with power structures that continue to marginalize them.

In regard to materialism, Lamar reflects on his own experiences subsequent to his fame: “Painkillers only put me in the twilight / Where pretty pussy and Benjamin is the highlight”. Here, Lamar describes how opiates and similar classes of drugs only temporarily absolved him of life’s hardships by allowing him to indulgence in material pleasures and women.

Throughout the song, he also makes frequent reference to the troubled history of African Americans in the United States and their current struggles: “When you know, we been hurt, been down before, nigga / When my pride was low, lookin’ at the world like, ‘where do we go, nigga?’ / And we hate Popo, wanna kill us dead in the street for sure, nigga / I’m at the preacher’s door/ My knees gettin’ weak…” Lamar paints a vivid narrative of a beaten down and broken race of individuals struggling to survive in spite of the continual frustrations and dangers that beleaguer them.

Picture Source: Kendrick Lamar

When we compare this narrative, which has received only a five million views, to the hundred of millions of views given to the romantic troubles of Taylor Swift, it should inform our perspective regarding the disproportionate representation of social issues in the United States.

Ultimately, though peace has predominated in the 21st century and though segregation is outlawed, civil inequality is still incredibly blatant. The trends in popular music pertaining to superficial romances illustrate a collective ignorance and solipsism to more serious and pressing social issues in the United States.

When one observes the music most popular and relevant to different groups in the United States, one begins to realize the alarming nature of “popular music” in relation to the culture and society of this time, where the public prioritizes and gives more notice to casual sex and romance over the plight of an entire race.