Our musical legacy lacks substance

Armando Torres-Garcia, Opinion Editor

Through music, our minds gain the power to transcend. Through beats and vibes a song rattles your eardrum, sends vibrations through your limbs, and introduces you to imaginative realms that help you recall moments that you may have never had. Musical pioneers such as Marvin Gaye, The Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin are often said to define their era. In short, music is the voice of a generation.

What happened to our generation?

The music industry is upside down. Mainstream music has made us move our soles, but lose our souls. Many of the artists we see on the top charts lack the soulful expression that the greats had. As consumers, we have expressed what we value in music: a catchy hook, synthesizers and auto-tune. We spend our money supporting these icons and send their songs directly to the Top 40 pop charts. This week’s top charts include Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Ke$ha. Surely, these artists are talented in their own unique way, but their message is usually the same: let’s party, hook up or break up.

It is easy to blame musicians for producing low-quality music, however it is the audience that is at fault. Musicians will produce what is popular and people will purchase what is comfortable to hear; this is why there is little diversity in the top charts. The only way to improve the tunes that supposedly define our generation is to support unique music that takes us out of our comfort zone. I can hear Lady Gaga fans scrunching up their “poker faces” in disagreement.

Rock fans in Santa Rosa are disappointed to have lost the only hard rock station in the county. Pulling the plug on Sonoma County’s The Fox 101.7 and replacing it with a station that plays the Top 40 causes the homogenization of music on the air. It is a slap on the face to all those who appreciate music that isn’t openly promoted in the mass media. Now, Santa Rosa has a smaller diversity of genres on the radio dial.

Real music is underground and is often overpowered by the sounds of “popular music.” Many unrecognized artists produce music that push the boundaries of what we should think is platinum-worthy. Whether we want to dance, relax or think deeply, a song is out there to satisfy the needs of 21st century people, but it has probably never been aired on radio.

One of my favorite independent hip-hop groups is Zion I. The group includes a live band, back-up singers, a producer named Amp-Live and Zumbi the front man of the group. These musicians compose songs that inspire, excite, and educate the audience while making beats that are good to dance to. They provide a big contrast to the mainstream hip-hop scene that focuses on sex, money and the rapper’s fame.

It is time to reclaim our minds from the grasp of the mainstream and restore the quality of music. Today’s mix is polluting our airwaves with superficial messages that fail to please the mind, body and soul. Music is supposed to inspire humanity and transport them to different experiences. Let’s take our music back and make it a permanent relic that will define our generation and withstand the test of time.