This series of blogs is intended to bring about a discussion on our current popular culture, and how that popular culture alters our civilization and society as a whole. I plan to touch on a number of issues concerning pop music throughout the last 70 years, and I would love to get your feedback and thoughts on the subject. I will try to have each piece centered around a specific topic, which should allow for a somewhat structured conversation.
I should say up-front that I find current trends and standards in popular music to be severely lacking. I admit that my opinions on this subject may seem elitist and snobby, but I am willing to risk the ridicule. With that in mind, I will jump into my first point of discussion: that kids have access to too much disposable income, and it’s making a mockery of “our” popular music. Let me explain…
Last week, Britney Spears’ husband performed at the Teen Choice Awards here in the states. It was simply a terrible presentation from a man whose only real credential is that he married a rich pop star. Yet, even though his act and music was universally panned by critics, many agreed that he would likely sell many records and pick up a number of under-age fans. Jermaine Hall, executive editor of King Magazine, said:
“All you can do, is really just keep on plugging. He's definitely going to have a teenage female fan base. So, you know, make songs that cater to them. Keep it clubby, keep it hoppy, keep it happy."
So basically, there are a whole lot of kids out there willing to throw their money at this guy. Lord knows no adult with functioning ear drums will be picking it up. To be honest, I have nothing against K-Fed and the portion of the music community that he represents. There is nothing wrong with 12 year old girls buying disposable sugary pop records. When I was 12, I owned an Ace of Base cassette tape for crying out loud! It’s not that there is pop music geared towards children that infuriates me, it is that all pop music is not geared toward children.
I also don’t want to romanticize past generations and all of their pop culture icons and trends; there was shit then as there is shit now. If you go back and look at all the hit records in the 1930s and 1940s, you will find some stinkers. What I find shocking however, is the diversity amongst the hit records of those time periods. There were records that were hits with the younger crowd, but many of them were not.
The reality is that now days the biggest target market is pre-teens and teenage consumers. Market Research.com claims:
“The 41 million individuals in the United States between the ages of 5 and 14 have a direct buying power of more than $40 billion and influence $146 billion worth of expenditures every year.”
That is a phenomenal level of power that is unrivaled in history. They have access to disposable funds that their grandparents could only dream of when they were young. 60 years ago, children weren’t dictating pop culture because they did not have the financial means to do so.
Sure, there were still films and records intended for pre-teens and children 60 years ago, but getting access to those things was rare for most kids. You listened to the radio, caught a movie reel when they were cheap and you had some money, but the major consumers where young people (17-24) who had jobs. Novelty acts and children’s records were not on the front burner of most record companies, because they did not sell like they do now days.
Part 2 next week…the negative effect of disposable pop music…