There is no secret that I love to write, but I do have instances where I get really bad cases of writer’s block. Some of my favorite artists like Britney Spears (last November’s Britney Jean), Lana Del Rey (June’s Ultraviolence) and Kasabian (June’s 48:13) disappointed me with their latest projects, and ever since then I’ve just been in a writing funk. But it’s not like I don’t know why this is occurring — were you not around during 2014? Can we just all agree this was one of the more basic times in music in recent years?
Now, before you get all huffy and puffy, I’m referring to popular music. Pop has always been what I live for, what I write about and what pays my bills (literally — my job is to discuss music 24/7). I’d have to admit this year I got the chance to meet and befriend plenty of budding artists who are slowly but fiercely killing the underground rap game (ever heard of Wordsmiff, Tray Pizzy, Noah Vinson or Frank Ramz?), but that isn’t my forte. My focus is and always will be swimming in the mainstream pool. So when I see some of the most popular artists in the world fail to meet up to the standards I know they can, it’s very disappointing.
Remember when Disclosure released their debut album and changed the way we thought about dance music? Or when Kanye West dropped the bomb that was Yeezus and created a social media explosion? How about when Lady Gaga released ARTPOP and stretched her artstic innovation more than ever? Thanks to DJ Mustard (among many other culprits), the tunes on urban radio all blended together in the blandest manner and lacked any kind of substance. There is definitely a way to make smart music for the clubs — just ask the big house, pop and trance stars from the mid-’90s.
Yet during this year, it seemed like throwaway tracks from the studio floor made more of an impact than it should have. We also let Iggy Azalea feed us with lackluster I-G-G-Y nonsense that nowhere near reflected the talent she had on her Ignorant Art mixtape (released in 2011). What makes matters worse, she may walk away with a Grammy for it all early next year — Macklemore drama part deux, anyone?
2014 seemed to be all about cultural appropriation (and surprisingly, Katy Perry laid low this time around…nevermind — I lied. Forgot about that god-awful “This Is How We Do” video). From Azalea’s odd Southern drawl that is getting even thicker, Meghan Trainor being one of the major players in the so-called “Year of the Booty” with the headache-inducing “All About That Bass” and Taylor Swift‘s exploitation of hip-hop b-boys in “Shake It Off,” it was difficult to get away from the white-washed overlay that glossed the industry. Not to mention the overbearingly caucasian faces nominated for the 2015 Grammys, but that conversation is for another time…
Sure, there are newer artists to the scene like BANKS, Kiesza, Sam Smith, Tove Lo and FKA Twigs – but for me, that’s not enough. Where is the experimentation? Where are the effortless rule-breakers? Where is the controversy that keeps social media afloat? Where is the DRAMA? Personally, I’m waiting for artists like ‘Ye, Spears, Frank Ocean, Rihanna and Kendrick Lamar to come back and shake up the scene once again. Mark my words, the greats will be making a long-awaited and much needed return next year.
With just 12 days left in 2014, unfortunately there isn’t enough time for these artists to create a new musical wave. But let’s hope 2015 brings in the hungry fire that the music industry truly needs.