Thursday, September 17, 2009

Steve Sailer on popular music
A possible advantage about not knowing much about what I’m talking about when it comes to music is a certain ability to see the forest through the trees.

From that 30,000-foot perspective, the answer to what’s new in country turned out to be (as with most genres of popular music in the last couple of decades): not much.

Indeed, what seems odd for an old fogey like me is how much a country radio station these days sounds like a mainstream FM rock station in the 1970s.

Why did the 20th century see such sweeping changes in musical styles, while people in the 21st century still seem fairly satisfied with the genres that emerged in those few tumultuous decades after WWII?

In the very big picture, what revolutionized music over the last 100 years was electricity. Combined with other new electrical technology such as recording and radio, amplification created superstars whose magnitude we’ll likely never see the like of again.

By the early 1980s, technology allowed any conceivable sound to be produced on demand. Technical innovations since then, such as the Internet, have mostly served to allow fans to mainline their favorite styles without them having to put up with the crud other people like.

26 of the current Billboard Country Top 30 hits are sung by guys. And yet, country audiences appear to be around 55 percent female and women are widely considered within the industry to be the target.

Freud famously wondered, “What does a woman want?” Nashville music executives, though, don’t find that a perplexing question. Male country singers tend to be deep-voiced, good-looking, and tall.

Country songs sung by women now tend to be You-Go-Girl sassy, aimed at Oprah fans. Male singers, on the other hand, get to be sappy, to make fun of themselves, and do other things that wouldn’t be considered appropriately “empowering” for women to do. Not surprisingly, allowed a wider choice of songs, there are more male stars.

The typical country fan has a life. Indeed, having too much of a life is a common theme in country.

One striking difference between country lyrics and lyrics for rock, pop, or rap songs (in which it’s the default that the singer is single) is that singers are so often explicitly married or heading into (or out of) marriage, and may well have kids.

I find it plausible that all this pro-family propaganda in country songs actually improves the conduct of white working-class American men. Compare them to their distant cousins in Britain’s white working class and you’ll see the Americans come out better behaved on measures of things like burglary and binge drinking.
From Taki.

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