Mainstream Music: Effect on Popular Culture

Posted in: Musicouching by Stephen Young on December 24th, 2007 | 7 Comments

How the American and Canadian mainstream music industries affects popular culture.

Although the music industry’s depiction of today’s youth is unrealistic in its exemplification of money and luxury goods and based on consumerism, there are many positive elements involved in much of today’s popular music, such as artists who support positive images and role models, and the ability to independently release your own personal work across the internet and some other mass media platforms. Specifically, hip-hop and rap music tends to come under fire in the mass media as being a negative force in the lives of current youth. But are the positive elements of this industry going unmentioned? Despite its popularity, rap and hip-hop music are still responsible for some of the most controversial content available to the public through the mass media (Iwamoto, 2007, p. 337). The lifestyles described as desirable by the rap music industry advocate crime, drugs, alcoholism, and promiscuity, but what of the positive aspects of this category of culture?

Rap and hip-hop provide a world that very few members of the youth population are able to attain, yet identify with nonetheless. The idea of being accepted into a group where all the needs and wants of its members are met (the very doctrine of the hip hop lifestyle being money and the ability to have whatever you desire) is very enticing to the average member of the materialist youth society. Belonging is also a huge desire in today’s youth. The need to belong and be accepted is as strong as ever, and the hip-hop music industry feeds on this as well, and in that aspect is not such a negative thing. Giving youth the ability to interact with each other and to aid in the development of friendship groups is certainly a positive aspect of the mainstream music scene. The development of “cool” has always created groups in the past; and it is certainly arguable to claim that popular music will continue to create groups in its own image. However, the relevant issue is to whether or not the groups created from these musical influences are more inclined to generate positive or negative behaviour.

Many popular musicians use their pop culture status to promote charity work, environmentalist causes, and other positive movements. For example, U2’s front man Bono has urged his fan group to support the Aids awareness cause in Africa. Similarly, hip-hop artists have in the past stood for more positive points then are typically granted by the stereotype of the hip hop life. For example, on the local front, Canadian hip-hop artists have recently joined the fight for a more ethnically diverse bone marrow registry in Canada. These movements are certainly positive, and add constructive role modelling to the typical popular artist’s image.

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7 Responses to “Mainstream Music: Effect on Popular Culture”
  • Sam January 28th, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    If you’re saying that mainstream music such as rap/hip hop has benefits that outweigh its negative consequences, you’re completely wrong. If by listening to music that degrades women as sexual objects, with the very women that sing those songs without realizing the words of these “artists”, then mainstream music has become a problem in today’s youth. When urban society in less fortunate situations listen to this “music” it is only a catalyst to achieve these fantasy lifestyles of “getting rich or die trying” by getting into illegal drugs and criminal conduct. Mainstream rap/hip hop is only causing the demoralization of today’s youth and society. The negative outweighs its puny positive of your so called “friendships” of this kind of trash.

  • Buddy Guy February 25th, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    Retards Attempting Poetry

  • Kioko March 9th, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    I agree with you Sam. Listening to mainstream, it being was it is, has done more harm than good. Drugs, money and sex are hardly the values we want to teach the youth of America. But here’s the worst part of all: it sells!! i find this fact vile and disturbing, but it is the sad truth. This is what people want. It’s in because people find it cool with that hot beat and deep “Girl I’v been achin’, quakin’ and movin’, trying to get to you and dat booty” voice. And the artist may only give to charity or raise money for the blind or something like that because it makes them look good, and really, they aren’t losing anything for it. It also gives people a reason to think that because their hearts might be in the right place, their music is too. But that’s not the case. The music is terrible, and has no positivity. Period.

  • Mason April 22nd, 2009 at 9:49 am

    I would have to say that in some cases you 2 are right. But not in all. You cannot sit there and say ALL hip hop is down grading to women and All hip hop has an influence on drugs and illegal activity. Every song has a different topic but not all are like this.

  • Drew May 30th, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    You cannot say all hip hop is bad, you cant even say most hip hop is negative. The problem is the negative hip hop is glorified by the radio. Who actually decides what is played on the radio, because we know it isnt us. The people who decide what is played on the radio are the people who decide how they want people to act. Positive hip hop is here, just dont expect the radio to play it, Because we have to hold those black people DOWN.

  • chanjh June 21st, 2009 at 4:11 am

    I think all of the above points are completely valid. Being a hip-hop dancer, I am all too familiar with the types of messages that today’s music is sending out. For the kids out there that are struggling with their identities and where they stand in the world, this could lead them astray as they attempt to emulate the hip-hop style of being a “playa” or a “gangsta”.

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