In past years when we turned on the top hits radio station in the family car, my dad patiently listened with us but never actively listened to the songs we instinctively knew all of the words to.
He would rarely acknowledge a heavy beat with a slow head bob, but never attentively heard what was being played. This past year, however, I noticed that my dad started to listen to the lyrics of the more popular songs. In fact, he would actually turn up the radio for some songs and sing along.
Most of the songs my dad paid attention to ended up winning Grammys or were at least nominated for them. I never understood why he suddenly had a change of heart about modern music until he pointed out that they all sounded like music from his era.
The music that I as a college student listen to, Grammy-nominated artists like Robin Thicke and Justin Timberlake, sound strikingly similar to the music my dad blasted from his own college stereo.
The record of the year, “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk, harkens back to the ‘70s disco beats with a newer techno spin. The high falsettos sound eerily familiar to the older harmonies of groups like Earth, Wind and Fire and other such bands that have Dad singing right along.
Along that same vein is the winner for Best Pop Vocal Album, “Unorthodox Jukebox” by Bruno Mars. Tracks on the album range from the boogie-reminiscent “Treasure” and the poppy “Locked Out of Heaven” to the Billy Joel-style piano ballad of “When I Was Your Man.”
Of course my dad would not turn up the radio for all sorts of music that came up on the top hits radio and the Grammy nomination list, but those who listened more closely to the cleverly disguised pop songs noticed a somewhat ironic analysis of pop culture within the songs themselves.
For example, Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year winner “Royals,” by the up-and- coming young artist Lorde. This track features not only the incredible vocals of the New Zealand native, but also a critique of the modern music’s fascination with the lavish lifestyle of the rich and famous.
Another artist that won for Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Song, Best Rap Album and Best New Artist seems to also enjoy taking stabs at the extravagant lifestyles of the artists present at the awards.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, through their Best Rap Song, “Thrift Shop,” as well as other songs on their album “The Heist,” point out the extremes of celebrity and their dress. Their album also takes on greater social themes and addresses the widely debated issue of gay rights.
Though some people may be concerned with the state of society, it seems that music continues, as it always has, to use its great influential power. This year’s Grammy awards reflect those slight nods toward social critique and the bringing of the old into the new and relevant.