Often, Pop Music Is Separated Into Two Groups: That Which Is Standardized And Contrived And That Which Is What Theodor W. Adorno Would Describe As "Serious"

1864 words - 8 pages

Popular music has long since dictated what the public listens to. Often, it is separated into two groups: that which is standardized and contrived, often a by-product of the music industry, and that which is what Theodor W. Adorno would describe as "serious". Two such popular artists exist today, Avril Lavigne representing the former and Weezer, the latter. To support this, Adorno's arguments on the state of popular music can be implemented, using his notions of music being "listened to for you" and consumers being "kept in line". Adorno's view of popular music can be applied to both Avril Lavigne and Weezer proving and disproving, respectively, that they fit his definition of standardized, ...view middle of the document...

" (Adorno paragraph 2 in Presentation of the Material)Yet despite her in-your-face lyrics and her subtle, driving bass lines, Avril is still indirectly supportive of capitalist hegemony. She claims to champion individualism while maintaining a relationship with her major label and performing songs, often not written entirely by herself, that follow a formulaic and predictable pattern both lyrically and musically. Consequently, the people who write for Avril (not to mention her band mates) are often overlooked because Avril is the main image."...Arrangers, who are probably the most competent musicians in the United States, often remain in obscurity, like scenario writers in the movies." (Adorno paragraph 13 in Presentation of Material)It's not just her songwriters who are overlooked. Allegedly, Avril has been accused of plagiarism, proving, once again, her lack of any unique qualities:"Gossip blogger Perez Hilton has pointed out yet another series of uncanny similarities between one of Avril Lavigne's new tunes and another artist's track. '70s group the Rubinoos have recently accused Lavigne of ripping off their 1979 song "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" for "Girlfriend," and now it seems Canadian electroclasher Peaches may have a case, too. The first 20 seconds of Avril's "I Don't Have to Try" sound nearly identical to Peaches' "I'm the Kinda" from 2003's Fatherfucker." (rollingstone.com)Avril Lavigne is in every respect a product of the major label music industry and hence, fits Adorno's description of standardized, pseudo-individualistic and indirectly supportive of capitalist hegemony.Rivers Cuomo, the primary composer of Weezer's songs, never wrote predictably or according to any set patterns. In fact, in order to write he had to confine himself to his room and shut out the outside world. For their sophomore album, Pinkerton, Rivers had the benefit of his anonymity at Harvard University, where he majored in English and lived by himself. For The Green Album, Rivers abandoned contact with everyone he knew and confined himself to his house for a full year in order to be able to write."Inside his new abode, R.C. continued to nurture the songwriting streak that was reportedly brought on by a year spent in isolation. Away from live gigs and parties, the anti-social rocker adhered to a self-imposed ban on radio listening and record buying." (Luerssen 283)In this way, Weezer avoided having their music polluted by standardization. The songs Rivers produced were purely virgin, inspired by his personal experiences and without the corruption of pre-digested material that could have been forced on him by outside sources. This, however, did not prevent outside sources from "plugging" the band:"The plugging of songs is only a part of a mechanism and obtains its proper meaning within the system as a whole. Basic to the system is the plugging of styles and personalities" (Adorno, paragraph 11 in Presentation of Material)Similar to Avril being labeled a "punk" by...

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