Thoughts on “Good Music” and Narcissism


Does Justin Bieber sing good music? You say yes? Are you a teenage girl who just discovered hormones and thought it is the same as love? You say No, but what about the millions of Beliebers who think his music is the greatest thing sliced bread (or to bring it closer to home, Agege Bread). Frankly speaking, I should stop getting myself worked up over this music issue, but what can I do when people won’t stop complaining  ad nauseum about this issue of how some musicians should have their larynxes removed because their music is so bad, while some musicians have already sealed their place in the heavenly choir with the brand of music they are making, because it is that good. And once again we come to the eternal question that has been asked thousands of times by succeeding generations of people and will continue to be asked by people as long as there are people on earth: “What really is good music?”

In the simplest of definitions “Good music” is music that you as the individual likes. Whether or not millions of other people like it is immaterial, if you don’t like it it is not good music to you. Having established that, I will now go on to add the definition that will form the thesis of this essay.”Good music” is music that is specifically targeted at the likes of you. If you think I mean “good music” is no different from luxury cars, or toys, or sanitary pads which are specifically for menstruating women, or diapers targeted at babies, then you are correct because that is what it is. It may sound strange, but just calm down a bit and you will soon get what I mean.

Recently  I was watching Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” video on YouTube, and what kept coming to my mind was “What kind of stupid love makes a guy drag that kind of heavy piano all the way to under a girl’s window?” suddenly I did a double take and remembered that watching the same video six years ago, what I was thinking was “what kind of wicked girl cheats on a guy who went through all that trouble for her?”  It was still the same video, but I am no longer the same person. That brings me to the question on Justin Bieber that I started this piece with, the rest of us who are not Beliebers think Justin Bieber is a once talented kid who sold out and became a music machine for spewing out cheesy love songs to teenage girls who have not learned to differentiate between hormones and love. To those Beliebers, however, Bieber sings good music because his music resonates with their experience.

I used to not have any rebuttals when older people tell me that the music that we young people listen to these days is just “club songs” and “party tracks” which do not stir any deep emotions, but recently somebody on twitter  was sharing his experiences on sitting in a bar and listening to a live Apala Band, and much of the lyrics of the lead singer was praise for the people who were spraying him with money. Then it struck me too that most of the King Sunny Ade or Ebenezer Obey tracks that are regarded as classics by the older generation were also recorded at parties and club houses, only that the clubs in their generation were different from ours, so much for moral high ground. The truth is as long as there are people in the world there will always be clubs and parties and musicians/music producers/record labels will always produce songs to pander to them and appeal to their narcissism. So also other types of music, hip-hop, country, alternative, folk, rock, mention is all about knowing that you are a member of a demographic and musicians/record labels marketing music for that demographic to you.
“But how do record labels know the kind of songs I like.” You argue  The thing is as human beings we like to think we are unique like we are the only person feeling sad or happy or confused and we need one particular kind of music at a particular moment. It helps our self-esteem, but it is a lie. I find it funny when someone comes like “see this new song I found, it’s not like the popular, sex and money trash that those other musicians sing” and then I go to check out said song and I see something like ten thousand downloads or a thousand  YouTube views. I tell the person, your music sensibilities are not unique, you are just one in a thousand people. So don’t go feeling like you just jumped over the moon or something. Whether it is Justin Bieber or  Tupac or Asa, or Tope Alabi, or Reminisce, the method is the same, identify a target audience, produce music that panders to them, rinse and repeat. Thus no music genre is superior to, or better than another music genre, it is only music you like because it fits you, and music you don’t like because it doesn’t fit you.

Again you argue “what of Songs like Korede Bello’s Godwin that cuts across all demographics, is that not a sign that some songs are truly excellent?  Songs like that are proof that underneath all the trappings, there are some things that affect us all the same way. However, our latent narcissism/egotism makes it difficult to admit that we, with our  IPhone(s), two degrees and our sleek car, and Asa music, may have something in common with the illiterate, Fuji blasting, Keke Napep driver. Hence we search fevervently for points of difference, music being universal soon becomes a point of differentiation.

Therefore To whom it may concern, keep your opinions about the rubbish music I listen to to yourself. If I like your music I will listen to it, I am already an egotistical prick for choosing the brand of music I chose, you being an additional egotistical prick will not  benefit either of us. Signed Management.

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