Opinion: Boy Bands Get Record Deals, But We Don’t Have to Listen

James Bouffard, Music Critic

Three of the top teen heartthrobs will have new albums before the end of the year.

One Direction will release Made in the A.M. in November, 5 Seconds of Summer already released the very punk rock Sounds Good Feels Good, and everyone’s favorite delinquent Justin Bieber will also soon release a new album.

These competitors do not have a shared record label; they’re fighting for the money of adolescent girls and domination of the airwaves.

Each has their own nuances. One Direction is the traditional ensemble of late adolescent pretty boys who fill their own individual role, the bad boy, the one with nice hair, et cetera.

Bieber has evolved into a pill-snorting wangster hood rat who makes overproduced R&B.

5SOS is an even poppier version of blink-182, who raped what’s left of the punk subculture.

But their work amounts to the same thing: pop music, which is clean and neatly packaged. Nothing is original or down-to-earth. It is musically vapid and lyrically trite.

While somewhat unfair to criticize these new albums as they’re awaiting release, that’s not really the point. It’s that money-driven corporate executives shouldn’t decide which musician gets to eat and what everyone has to listen to for the next several months.

Music is something which makes life worth living. It entertains people, connects them, and heals them. Going to a concert can create a religious feeling and so many of us have musicians as surrogate gods. Why do we still listen to people who have been for hundreds of years? Isn’t it amazing someone like Mozart of Jimi Hendrix could just pick up an instrument and produce something as beautiful as they did? And how many people have had their life saved by a record?

Music is sacred. It is something which anyone should be able to make or enjoy. 

But, as Jello Biafra sings, “Tin-eared graph-paper brained accountants/ Instead of music fans/ Call all the shots at record companies now”.

That was 30 years ago, and the situation is worse. Control over popular music has been concentrated in the hands of very few people.

But it is important to remember we aren’t limited to a handful of mediums anymore. The Internet has mitigated the power of corporations and given artists exposure.Good music is out there. Turn off the radio and turn on your computer. It isn’t about being ‘hipster’. It’s about exploring music with integrity and which isn’t made for money.

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