Listen Up! Music Has the Floor

*clears throat & cues the dramatic tunes * Stop. Press play below and come back here (we’ll be waiting). Well friends if you’ve been hiding under a bridge with fairies and mermaids, then you don’t know that the sis and I made it to round 2 of The Great 2012 Arts Blogger Challenge. YAY! Voting is April 2nd-5th at noon EST. Vote for ArtBLT here. Our next challenge is: We live in an aggressively visual age; images dominate the popular culture. But which art form has the most to say about contemporary culture, and why? Music is the art form that has the most to say about contemporary culture. Why you ask? It is not only powerful, but entices us to buy products, movies, sing along at the theater, and get involved in social movements. Whether it’s rock and roll, hip-hop, jazz, soul or classical music, it all connects us. Great tunes and contemporary culture go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly. Don’t believe a belle? Come on, let’s go back a bit: We’d be remiss if we neglected to mention that Birmingham, AL was pivotal to the Civil Rights Movement. John Coltrane’s “Alabama” signified the times. He created a somber song to recount the bombing of the 16th St. Baptist Church in 1963 that killed four little girls. This song told the world what was going on in contemporary culture with civil unrest, death, racial injustice, and grief. The Beatles’ “Revolution” in 1968 was about the political protests of the 60’s. The song made its way as a 1987 commercial for Nike, cementing that music not only illustrates what’s going on in contemporary culture, but also influences it. Music has the ability to move and inspire people–visual artists included. But, it also moves people to purchase products. It’s cool how a political song is used to sell an “All American” product. Yep, music is king! Marvin Gaye was the epitome of sweet sexy soul (did you know that he would have been 73 years old today?). A belle remembers the 1971 What’s Going On concept album and how Gaye shifted from being a sex symbol to the voice of a culture. The album brought songs about social resistance, unemployment, poverty, and war. We got songs like “What’s Going On” and “Inner City Blues.” The album chronicled a struggle that is still apparent today with the Occupy movement, police brutality, wide range of poverty, and so on. Hip-hop and you don’t STOP!

It’s like a jungle sometime it makes me wonder how I keep from going under…

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five brought us “The Message” about living in the inner city. Although the song was released in 1982, the message still rings true in 2012. Music not only has the most to say about contemporary culture, but it’s the most used. Check out the videos below and you tell us if music doesn’t shape our culture.

Y’all know we rock the hip-hop nonstop. In fact it’s a crime in our home not to listen to it–punishable by no shopping! Who would have thought that two of our loves: hip hop and string instrumentation would coincide with Miri Ben-Ari, “The Hip-Hop Violinist,” who integrated her classical training into the hip-hop world? Music shows us how it can shape and define contemporary culture. Hip-hop music has influenced people of all nationalities, religions and so on. If this isn’t evidence that music has the most to say about contemporary culture, then we don’t know what does. Know any French? Well, we don’t either, but check this out: Adele is a wondrous example of music telling about contemporary culture. She does not fit the standard norm of beauty (we think she’s gorgeous!), and has been ridiculed for her weight. However, her talent has trumped the naysayers. Her recent album, 21, sold more albums in 2011 than any other artist since 2004. Hot chick, right?! Below, Adele is playing with a live orchestra–something that was often unheard of in soul/folk music. Music shows the evolution of contemporary culture and documents it for future generations. Still don’t believe us? Try traveling abroad where artists like Kanye West, Lady GaGa and Rihanna have made their way into the ears of listeners who do not even speak ENGLISH but know EVERY word to their songs. We remember traveling to Asia where most people didn’t speak English, but were rapping and singing to music by American artists. How do we know? Because when we asked for directions they couldn’t tell us a thing! 🙂 Funny yet cool, yeah we know! Music will always be the art form that has the most to say about contemporary culture. It influences fashion, trends, movies, advertising, and so on. Think about how Lady Gaga, Puff Daddy, Jay-Z, and more artists have influenced fashion. We leave with the song about Trayvon Martin, a young unarmed man that was killed in Florida. Listen to the song here (WARNING: it contains the N word). This song tells you what is going on now. If you like what you read/heard, vote for ArtBLT here. Thank you kindly! *Photo/videos via the world wide web


Shermika is a writer constantly in search of her next freelance gig and an ending to her short stories. She loves to plan trips, eat tasty delicacies, and tip toe in heels. She enjoys unique jewelry, good music, reading, and chic dresses.

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