Popular Music as a Cultural Artifact: A Critical Analysis

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Popular Music as a Cultural Artifact Popular music is often one of the best lenses we have through which to view our own cultural orientation. Many of the artistic and experimental shifts in popular music have mirrored changes in our own society. For instance, the emergence of Elvis Presley as a public figure would signal the start of a sexual revolution and the growth in visibility of a rebellious youth culture. Similarly, the folk and psychedelic music of the 1960s was closely entangled with the Civil Rights, anti-war and social protest movements. In this regard, we can view popular music as an artifact through which to better understand the time and place in which it is produced. In light of this, the state of popular music today may suggest troubling things about our society. Today, sources of mainstream music such as radio, television and film soundtracks tend to reflect an increasingly superficial, formulaic and predictable mode of music production and distribution. The result is an increasingly homogenous mainstream market that tends to stifle creativity, experimentation and artistic vision in favor of proven commodity. This helps to account for the dominance of mechanized dance tracks aimed at younger listeners and the permeation of Middle of the Road (MOR) content aimed at Baby Boomer consumers. Especially in the face of a declining overall music buying market, the industry has become especially unwilling to take risks on artist's whose style is unfamiliar or
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