Marvin Gaye did it, Michael Jackson did it. John Lennon did it. A host of other true artists have done it as well. The O'Jays even hipped you to it. How many of you remember when every other song on the radio had a message hidden somewhere in the lyrics? Can you recall the first time you heard "Man In The Mirror" and you said to yourself "I have to take a look at myself and make a change"? Or what about when you first heard Marvin say "What's Going On?" Didn't those "message" songs really move you?
From Public Enemy to Elton John, for as far back as I could recall these artists, somewhere in the depths of their lovemaking and partying, dancing and singing, boldly placed some thought provoking tunes on their albums.
In this day and age, (as if everything IS alright), artists have lost focus on what really matters to those consumers who stand in line to support them and buy their records or to the millions of people who have been displaced by hurricanes, the economy, death and so much more. Yes people want to hear a good party tune sometime, but they also want to hear someone tell them it's going to be alright.
I myself feel like there's a little too much partying going on and not enough thinking going on in music today. Not to say there isn't anything thought provoking coming out these days, it's just not as relevant or important to the average consumer/listener today.
I haven't met anyone yet in the 44 years I've been around who's as passionate about music as I am and I can honestly say lately my passion has begun to question itself. There are a lot of artists on sites like CD Baby and a few other indie artist sites who are, for all intents and purposes making good, relevant music that makes you proud to be alive.
Are these artists getting any airplay though? Of course not! Someone, somewhere in his/her office at a radio station is listening to all of this good music and deciding the people (those who listen to radio), don't want to hear anything that uplifts them anymore. They figure the listener wants nothing more than to dance and party his/her life away.
Now there are a few people working in radio who will take a chance on an artist today who is doing more than talking loud and saying nothing. But those radio programmers and radio personalities are far and few between. It's amazing how much music I play for friends of mine and the first thing that comes out of their mouths is "why isn't radio playing this"? If that's the case can you imagine how many people out there are thinking the same thing.
There are a lot of foward thinking artists around today who wish for nothing more than to be heard and supported by radio, but are not willing to sell their souls to do so. In other words ,they are not willing to do songs that will mess with the integrity of who they are as an artist just to get some radio time. The flip side of that is most of those artists are broke and will never get on radio anyway. So what is a true artist to do in this day of glorified sexism and partyism? Should they join the ranks of many of today's well known artists or do they continue to make exceptionally good music and risk never being heard by the masses?
Not every song needs a remix featuring Jay Z, Kanye West or Lil Wayne on it. What is really going on with the world of music today, I'd like to know. Years ago, artists like Des'ree were hitting number one on the charts with the proud anthem "You Gotta Be" and others followed suit. Like Marvin Gaye before her and Lady Gaga after her, (who's hit "Born This Way" was an anthem earlier this year), we need more Des'ree's, Marvin's and Gaga's singing something uplifting that will have us pumping our fist to the music and holding our heads high.
When the O'Jays sang "we have a message in our music" it was an incredible time. I wonder will we ever get back to times as wonderful as those for music? I guess only time will tell.