Great tune, shame about the words

By Tiahli Martyn

I SIT at my desk, pen in one hand, my head in the other. Tunes waltz through my mind - but the problem is the words.

I'm never at a loss for words when speaking, so why is it so hard to write a good song? Could it be that, these days, we just don't have enough role models in the music industry from whom to take inspiration?
My mother is a die-hard Beatles fan. On every family road trip my brother and I are subjected to what we initially thought was the non-stop torture of cheesy songs about love.

I soon realised, however, that I was tapping my foot and singing along with John, Paul, George and Ringo. These songs may be old, but - let's face it - they're timeless. It's that unbeatable mixture of catchiness, light-hearted lyrics, talent and flair that has created the legacy of the Beatles.

Many of their sentiments are deviously simple but that is their beauty. It's what makes them memorable and has generations of people buying their albums.

I understand that times they are a-changin', and people can't always listen to each other sing about unrequited love. The big, emotional songs can sometimes be a bit heavy when all we want is music to clear our heads.

But honestly, has society's discernment of music become so crude that, as long as we can "shake our booties" to a song, we don't care what it's actually saying? Until Katy Perry sang a rather pointless song about kissing a girl, nobody took any notice of her. Now that she's at the top of the charts, she has the power to move us with inspirational songs like Firework, which has a clear message, while being catchy.

To be honest, when I listen to music it's the tune that I remember. I admit often I can't even understand what the artist is saying and end up having to resort to Google to figure out what they're on about.
Once I reach this stage, I usually have to wonder: why did I even bother?

Take Christina Aguilera, for example. In Not Myself Tonight she sings, "Cause I'm doing things that I normally won't do / The old me's gone, I feel brand new / And if you don't like it, f*** you". How charming, Christina. Whatever happened to you singing about everyone being beautiful, no matter what they say?

I think it's just a wake-up call for the music industry to reflect on the lyrics they're pumping out at the moment. I have to wonder what kind of music will be popular when our own kids are growing up.

Will they laugh at us, or groan like we often do whenever our parents get to tune the radio? Will they say, "Katy who?!" Or will we be able to hold our own and convince them that, in our day, musicians knew what they were talking about?

Unless, of course, the artiste in question is Rebecca Black, with her inane Friday, in which case I will have to nod sagely and admit that there were some musicians of my generation whose knowledge of the world only extended to the days of the week.

Tiahli Martyn, Year 12, St Cuthbert's College

- NZ Herald

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