Baby, You’re So Classic!

Added on March 13, 2015

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By Artisthead News correspondent, Alex Feigin.

In 2014, the pop duo MKTO released a single called "Classic." This catchy, upbeat tune topped the pop charts all summer. The first time I heard it, I loved it. These guys clearly know how to do pop the right way. It must have been the third or fourth time I heard the song as I watched tweens and teens belting out the lyrics to the chorus; "I wanna thrill you like Michael, I wanna kiss you like Prince, let's get it on like Marvin Gaye, like Hathaway write a song for you like this." It hit me that if asked about Marvin Gaye or Donny Hathaway, these kids would probably have no idea as to the likes of either of them. The realization of this concerned and saddened me. I cannot imagine a music world without Michael Jackson, Prince, Marvin Gaye, or Donny Hathaway, in addition to the Beatles, Elton John, Billy Joel, and several other artists who sing our classics.

What makes a song or an artist classic? How long have their songs stood the test of time before they are considered classics? And most importantly, how do we keep the classics relevant in an ever-changing music scene, where with every next generation, we are moving farther away from the release dates of these famously incredible pieces? Somehow, we have maintained the classic status of these artists and songs today through a variety of avenues. Thanks to the array of stations on XM and FM radio, theatrical musicals exposing older styles, and television shows like Glee that feature songs from countless decades, we are still able to teach and influence today's youth with older, yet great music.

I feel lucky to have been exposed to the music of the baby boomer generation since I was a young child, thanks to my parents, and maybe that's what made me into such an obsessive music fan. Generally, I find that most people above the age of eighteen have heard at least a few Beatles tracks, but how many twenty and thirty year olds have actively listened to Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Elvis Presley? Those were artists who peaked before the baby boomers were alive. While most people know those names, they might not be familiar with much of the music. Many of the baby boomers were exposed to classical music from their parents, but less of the boomers exposed their own kids to it, hence the unfortunate decline of interest among today's youth when it comes to legends such as Mozart and Beethoven.

Recently, Kanye West released a song called "Only One," featuring Sir Paul McCartney of the legendary Beatles. Due to the unlikely combination of artists, the song received a great deal of attention right away. What shocked many people was the overwhelming amount of Twitter posts expressing confusion in regards to who Paul McCartney is. Not only did several young people not know who McCartney is, but they praised West for giving McCartney the opportunity to make a career for himself in music. Anyone who knows of The Beatles or Paul McCartney knows how ridiculous that sounds, and many folks seemed to be honestly offended by West's fans. I say, rather than being offended or disappointed by this, we should take charge and find new and exciting ways to teach today's youth about the musical legends that helped formulate our current music scene.

Without these legendary artists taking risks and opening doors for other musicians, who knows where our music scene would be today? These are the artists that pushed the boundaries in a time when straying too far from the norm was somewhat outrageous and almost unheard of. These are the people that put out Rock n' Roll music when it was initially shunned by much of the public. These are the people that started Motown, and completely evolved music as it coincided with racial issues in the 1960's. They all pushed the envelope to help create what we have today, and we need to savor their incredible contributions.

Meanwhile, in New York City, one of the busiest cities in the world, Elton John sold out the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on New Years Eve, and Billy Joel plays almost monthly at Madison Square Garden with undeniable success. It's nice to know that this is still happening, and that people of all ages are enjoying these concerts. I hope I never live to see the day that no one remembers Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Billy Joel, The Rolling Stones, and so many more. I hope people will still be singing Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" in fifty years. I hope people will still be smiling at the bar counter when the Eagles' "Hotel California" comes on. I hope today's youth is able to keep the classics alive while adding some future classics to the list for their own kids to enjoy. Let's keep the good tunes coming, and always remember the music that got us to today.


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