The Purpose of Art

July 15th, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

Sometimes, we think that the Los Angeles Times believes that pop music isn’t real music. After all, there are sections called “Music” and “Pop Music”; jazz doesn’t really get its own section, per se, but sort of tags on the end of pop. This has always been confusing.

In the wake of tragedy, Charlotte Church singing about being a Crazy Chick can seem at best an irrelevance, at worst a trivial distraction, but people don’t just listen to music to salve their souls and ease their consciences. Pop is there to raise a smile, to give us something to dance to, to help people forget their troubles.

So the fact that Crazy Frog is still on the radio, the Backstreet Boys are back and a track mixing Elton John with deceased rapper 2Pac is number one should not be cause for despair at the shallowness of pop culture but for celebration at people’s capacity to carry on with life as usual.

We have a particular fondness for pop music, but not all pop music is good. There is some seriously bad stuff played on the radio. And just when you think you’ll hide the receiver, something beautiful plays. Sometimes we all agree that a song stands above the crowd, sometimes only one or two of us even know it exists (one thinks about “Sick Day” by Fountains of Wayne).

Nobody really questions the right of pop music to be discussed, analyzed, critiqued, or placed in proper perspective within our society. It is judged on its merits, even though the snobs among us know for a fact that the really good stuff isn’t reaching the mainstream. Touching the emotions of people or offering them hope is not a bad thing. Today’s world doesn’t often offer hope to many people.

If you think this is another way of looking at a recent debate here, you’re right.

File Under: Square Pegs