Gina’s corner: Nostalgia for the Singer/Songwriter

Kate Nash Gig

In my opinion, the perfect song is like the perfect lover. It is passionate, honest and, most importantly of all, it makes you feel good. These are the qualities I look for in a record and have become reasoning for my lasting obsession with singer/songwriters.

Years ago, before the X Factor took over the world and a shock-inducing music video became more important than a good song, singer/songwriters were on trend. Kate Nash, Lily Allen, Daniel Bedingfield – these artists formed the soundtrack to our seasons, our summers and our celebrations. What I loved most about their tunes, was the raw honesty that I, and music lovers worldwide, could relate to.

Singers like these wrote their own songs from personal experience, experiences that I’d been through as well! Break-ups, reunions, unrequited love, the lyrics meant something to me and the joyful melodies reassured my young self. Lyrics were constructed melodically and words were chosen for their significance, not simply because they rhymed with the line below! This is the culture of the singer/songwriter which I now believe is slowly disappearing.

One cannot deny that reality television and talent shows are monopolising the world of music. For an industry which is all about standing out, it astounds me how many songs I hear on the radio that simply sound the same. Songs are being mass produced based on how many records they can sell rather than how they can make people feel, and this occurrence saddens me.

Lecturers always told me never to state a point without backing it up with examples, so here I go. I work in an office with around 12 other people and during the day, we listen to popular British radio station, BBC Radio 1. Approximately three to four times a day we hear Crush on You by Nero, an electronic, dubstep track which features an excruciating vocal from The Jets, remixed, reinvented and repeated thousands of times throughout the track.

Don’t get me wrong, the reinvention of music can be a good thing. Cover versions can be incredible, Birdy’s Skinny Love was a magnificent revival of a classic track, becoming a classic in itself but also remerging the original Bon Iver version, introducing it to a new generation of music fans. Reusing clips from the past can also destroy it however, I need only refer to Glee’s rendition of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing to incite hatred in any classic rock fan. Funnily enough, while I’m writing this, Labrynth’s new song Earthquake has come on the radio, sampling what I can only assume is the soundtrack to Super Mario in its opening 5 seconds. Kill me.

I do quite strongly believe however, that the popularity of dubstep, drum and bass and techno is producing songs that are quite hard to listen to. I miss the days when every song on the radio made me smile, the definition of ‘popular’ music has changed.

I can’t deny that there are still some singer/songwriters who have survived the cull. Adele, Ed Sheeran, Jessie J and Ellie Goulding are my favourite artists of the last year – their songs are full of emotion, they play their own instruments, write their own lyrics but, at the same time, rock my socks off. I guess what I’m saying here, is that I wish there were more of them. Selfishly, I wish that I could be the one to decide what ‘talent’ represents in this day and age, rather than the plethora of British X Factor voters that turn Simon Cowell’s pupils into dollar signs.

I suppose, if I don’t like the way the music industry is going, I’ll just have to freeze in time, and look backwards instead of forwards.

Right, whinge over, I’m off to listen to Dire Straits!


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