Monday, March 28, 2011

Where Are The Classics?

Some friends and I have had some lively discussions about our musical culture. Recently, the question was: "What are the new classics?" I'd like to invite you to participate. In other words, can you name 10 songs from each of the last couple of decades that will have true staying power? I attended the NCAA regional tournament games recently and each of the 4 teams had a pep band there. After hearing a couple of songs (Proud Mary & Billie Jean), I began to count the songs from the various decades. Over the 2 games, I noted 36 songs. These were portions of songs played during the various breaks in the action including timeouts, tv breaks, at half-time, and between games. Some of the groups also played the same songs. The tally: 3 from the 60's, 21 from the 70's, 8 from the 80's, 3 from the 90's, and 2 from the 00's. That meant there were 24 songs (2 of every 3) that were over 30 years old and 8 that were over 20 (1 out of 4). Therefore the definition that we were using as a classic is really quite simple. Which songs will not only maintain their signature sound (remember there wasn't any sampling in the 70's) but also still be played at parties, weddings, sporting events, cruises, reunions, and other fun social events?

We tried to identify some modern classics but perhaps because we're all coming-of-age products of the 70's and 80's, we found it extremely difficult to come up with more than a handful. So where are the tracks that in 20 years will compete with "Shining Star", "Flashlight", "Rockin' Robin", "Get Down Tonight", "The Horse", "Word Up", "September", "Rock the Boat", "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now", "We Are Family", "Boogie Wonderland", "Heard It Through the Grapevine", "My Girl", and on and on? Your input please...

Why is this a cultural question? Well, it seems to me that too many modern songs have become homogenized into this slurry of sameness that makes it challenging to remember them across the last couple of decades. Couple that with the extreme corporatization of the music industry that has mass-produced a formulaic sound that no long represents any particular culture other than youth and it seems that we may need to start our own counterculture revolution to bring classic back!


Lynn said...

I also think, and I could be wrong, that the people who actually purchased tickets to the games were born sometime before the 90's and the 00's, and that's who is being marketed!!!

Anonymous said...

Interesting point, Lynn. With everything else being marketed to the "Disney" generation, it's easy to overlook the actual parent ticket purchasers but with an equally large contingent of current and near-current students in attendance, you'd think that they'd find a few more recent songs than just "Holla-back Girl" and "Put A Ring On It" :)