Essay about Music in This Generation

Submitted By burdettee
Words: 1872
Pages: 8

Elizabeth BUrdette

Music can definitely be a beautiful thing; it has the power to truly influence our outlook on life. In my generation, music is a huge part of our daily lives. It can be heard in stores, on TV, on the computer, and just around everywhere else we can go. The lyrics we are exposed to can vary to getting drunk each night to having existential worries. What makes a band like the Beatles influential enough to last through many generations of music? They are timeless groups that have influenced the generations that followed in more ways than music. These influential groups change our way of thinking through their lyrical abilities by going against the norm. The rhetoric of these lyrics strikes us at a greater level than the lyrics of a more forgettable band. I would argue that the postmodern band Modest Mouse should be seen as one of these said influential bands because of their use of lyrics. I will be using the rhetoric and postmodern paradigms to back up my claim. I will analyze how their lyrics transfer meaning and what sets them apart from the “normal” bands. If we as a culture were constantly being exposed to music with a greater meaning, music would play an even more vital part of our lives. We would be exposed to things our brain would never have been exposed to otherwise. From a communication perspective, analyzing the rhetoric from a postmodern band like this could be a benefit in being able to analyze other postmodern works. It would also be much easier in decoding the rhetoric behind other musical or literary works. The first PARAGRAPH I will be focusing on is the postmodern paradigm. The problem of postmodernism is that it does not have a solid definition. As “The postmodern in music” by James Wierzbicki puts it, “’Postmodern’ is an elusive concept that embraces a wide range of critical theories and attitudes.” Postmodernism can be seen as the opposite of modernism though. While modernism is more serious and linear, postmodernism is a more playful and random art. One thing that can be sure about postmodernism is that it takes old and puts a new twist on things. I believe Modest Mouse would fit this postmodern category because most of their songs involve taking classic sayings or themes and adding their own twists to them. I would describe most of their songs as artistic social commentary. My first example would be their song “Gravity Rides Everything”. I believe the message of their song is very postmodern in saying that we shouldn’t let life worry us and that everything will work out in the end. “And on spilt milk, sex, and weight; It all will fall, fall right into place”. This line sums up the theme of the whole song. The song is putting a twist on the music industry by going against the mainstream messages. The band is using double coding by hoping that we have heard these main stream songs that are all about “sex and weight”. Artists like Taylor Swift, Adele, and Kelly Clarkson highlight the necessity for relationships, but this song is telling us to not worry ourselves on the little things and life will work itself out. For example, Kelly Clarkson’s song “My Life Would Suck without You” gives the message that we should find someone to become emotionally dependent on because we need another person to find meaning in our lives. As Christopher Butler puts it in his book “Postmodernism – A Very Short Introduction”, postmodern work “resists the master narrative of modernism, and the authority of high art which modernism itself takes from the past, and it worries about its own language” (Bulter 64). In this sense Modest Mouse resists using the same message as the more “popular” bands and just worries about writing about what they want. As I’ve said before, the band relies on our knowledge of society to effectively make these social commentaries. The song “Guilty Cocker Spaniels” is another perfect example of their social commentary. The song talks about “exchanging comfort for more