Has Video Really Killed the Radio Star?

I wrote this for my creative writing class, but it was a topic that I found very interesting, so I thought I would share it with you. Let me know what you think.

When MTV debuted in 1981, the first music video that they aired was for The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star." I think they may have been on to something. Now, almost 30 years later, we find ourselves living in a world that is constantly bombarded by "musicians" who hardly fit the bill. We have Top 10 lists filled with poppy, sugary songs, but it can sometimes be hard to find the music behind all the glitz and the glamour. Are we as a society teaching our young to value looks over talent? It is arguable that artists like Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin would not become popular today, simply because their images are not very favourable to society. We prefer our musicians to be fit and attractive; talent is a plus but it is no longer necessary.

The musical landscape of 2010 is rather grim, if you are looking at it on a purely musical level. The new generation is missing out on the John Lennon's of yesteryear. We are starting to judge a piece of music based on how the artist looks or what the video is like, no longer taking into account the actual musicality of what we are listening to. The music industry is becoming much more interested in the theatricality of it all, and therefore less interested in the music itself. We walk away from a concert talking about how much pyrotechnics were used in the production or how cool the outfits were, but our conversations do not tackle what we should have been there for in the first place: the music.

Like that old clich├ęd saying says we really shouldn't be judging books by their covers. Unfortunately, it is becoming apparent that those in charge of the music industry are no longer following that rule. It is true that music videos are often really nice to look at, but music is meant to be an auditory experience, not a visual one. Yet we are constantly talking about how a musical artist looks, but fewer and fewer conversations are focusing on what they sound like. When did the sound of a musical piece become irrelevant when considering the value of a musical piece? Music used to be about emotion. When you listened to a song, you would find yourself feeling whatever the artist was feeling. Now, when you listen to music, the experience is rarely connected to an emotional experience. Instead, we are flooded with the images conveyed on the music videos or how the artist looks.

In his essay entitled "Image World" Michael Posner says "unable to separate the sound from its glossy video wrapping, the younger generation is losing the ability to appreciate the art of listening to music." It is arguable that he has hit the proverbial nail on its head. It is an unfortunate reality that we are living in a world that no longer values music for what it is, instead it values music for the images associated with it and presented in the music videos.


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