I was reading the Daily Dish today, and Conor Friedersdorf posted a response to Kathryn Jean Lopez of the National Review‘s lament that kids today don’t hear songs that are wholesome? morally upright? Her request is:
In their 75 hours a week of pop entertainment, I want young men and women to hear songs about, say, a girl who knows she doesn’t have to settle, or how they can have more than they’ve seen modeled around them in their own lives, or how they can be made of the strong stuff of true commitment and love.
He responded with Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”, Arrested Development’s “People Everyday”, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes’s “Home”, respectively. I’m teaching my 1213 composition class in the spring on youth culture, and I often see Lopez’s complaint made of young people: they’re not exposed to enough “correct” influences, pop entertainment is “corrupting”, etc.Now Lopez’s argument is inherently a political one; she’s talking about the tea party movement and drawing cultural lines in the sand. (She also makes a strange argument about country music being the last bastion of wholesome goodness, which is odd from a music standpoint. Has she never heard “Jackson”? Or most country songs? I get it from the let’s celebrate rural America and the music that supposedly represents it standpoint. But, I’m going to hazard a guess that she has never been to Arkansas, the place where metal still lives.) It’s an old argument. I tend to think the people who make those arguments are disengaged from pop culture at a certain critical level or never learned how, or had someone teach them how, to curate their tastes.To them, pop music is so much noise, and since they’re not critical readers of pop, young people must not be either. It’s a fallacious syllogism, and one that grossly under estimates the ways that people are inherently trained to filter through and read the products of culture.
But, I didn’t begin this post to dissect Lopez’s argument. No, I began it because the second band Friedersdorf linked to was Arrested Development, one of my all time favorite hip hop bands from the 1990s. I was teenagery excited to hear them again, nor were they an expected choice. “People Everyday” is a great song, but I was always more partial to “Mr Wendel”, “Tennessee”, and “Raining Revolution”.
“Raining Revolution”: I don’t know who thought to pair this song with the dance sequence from Singin’ in the Rain, but it’s a brilliant pairing. It’s the mashup Glee wish it did in the Paltrow episode.