What Music Should You Listen To?

May 27, 2023

Classical Music

Grounds for modern sound, complex, meaningful, unique


The genre of classical music holds many connotations, and for some reason, they are not always positive. I have heard on countless occasions how classical music is boring, often too long and disengaging, and is only for nerds. While classical music is an acquired taste that often appeals to individuals that play an instrument or are involved in music, the genre’s wide and diverse range is an excellent way to learn more about the history of music and to discover a brand new interest. 

Classical music is a superior genre to modern pop music not only due to its complexity, but also its influence. Classical music structurally has more chord, melody, and harmony variations than pop music, and that wide range of possibilities opens the genre to all people with varying musical tastes. Pop music has become so repetitive and manufactured that every song has the same chord progression that fails to grasp my attention in the same  meaningful way a more complicated piece of music can. Now, that is not to paint a snobby image of classical music: complexity does not always mean better, but when you hear a layered, harmonic, and emotional piece like Chopin’s “Nocturne No.” 1 in B Flat Minor, it is hard to compare it to the banal 4 guitar chords of Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers.” Orchestra and Band director Brian Lukkasson expresses, “people don’t have as much patience with classical music… People just treat it like it’s study music to have on in the background… so their brain never fully engages with it.”

In fact, practically every pop song has some influence from classical music.The main takeaway from modern music: it’s less original than classical music. “Pachabel’s Canon,” composed in 1680, is a widely known piece but it may be more familiar in Maroon 5’s 2019 “Memories.” The piano in the song is a copy of “Pachabel’s Canon,” with slight rhythm changes. Even John Williams, creator of the Harry Potter, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and Jaws scores, took more than an inspiration from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” in his “Star Wars Suite.” 

This is not to say that pop music is terrible. I likely listen more to modern songs than classical music on a daily basis, and classical music has its flaws. “Classical music gets a bad rep as being boring because it’s slower, it takes longer for an idea to get across.” Lukkasson says. Another concern is that most classical music is written by old, white men. While those concerns are valid, they change when you look away from the more commonly known composers. Music is viewed in an inherently Eurocentric way where many of the pieces followed similar styles and motifs. The Baroque Era (music made in the 1600s) and the Romantic Era (music from the 19th century) are time periods that only reflect how music changed in Europe. However, these vague terms do not encompass the jazz revolution, indigenous music, and eclectic styles of music that may not fall into pop or the constraints of “proper” classical music. There is music from all over the world waiting to be discovered if you just look past the symphonies and concertos of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. Look into Florence Price, Edmond Dédé, and Clara Schumann, and as you research more contemporary music, listen to George Gershwin, Scott Joplin, and Margaret Bonds. 

There is a world of music over 500 years old that can be discovered simply on your phone. All it takes is a click to move past the uniformity of Coldplay songs (good as though they may be) and there are pieces of all styles, instruments – not just guitar, drums, and voice – and for all emotions. Who would’ve thought that music could accurately express in your mind what a bumblebee buzzing looks like (Flight of the Bumblebee, Rimsky-Korsakov) or what a boat in the sea sounds like (Une Barque sur l’Océan, Ravel)? While my experience playing piano for many years may grant me a bias towards classical music,music is for everyone; it would be a shame if we locked ourselves out of a rich history of art that influenced almost every piece of music we have today. It’s amazing to close my eyes after school or to read a book while the beautiful notes wash over me. There is a certain beauty in listening to a piece that is more than six minutes long. Don’t let the long name and run time, and age of the piece deter you. Just start the music and let yourself settle into the bliss of artistry at work.


Pop Music

Trending sounds mix uplifting beats, sad lyrics


Out of all the songs on the Billboard Hot 100, at least half of them are some form of pop music.

Personally, I think this statistic is deserved, because pop is my favorite genre. Pop stands for popular, and nowadays, it’s the most common form of music, like the name suggests. These songs are appealing because of their upbeatness, and they are really easy to vibe to and sing along with. The lyrics are written to be repetitive and engaging, and the melody and beat is catchy.

Popular music started out as a category for any kind of music that was, well, popular, and this dates back to even the 19th century. Over the years, pop music has evolved to be some combination of what is popular at a given time. Pop is constantly changing – current pop music is very different from the pop music back in the 1960s, when rock and roll was taking over. Take the Beatles for example. They were very popular in the 60s, and back then, they were considered a pop/rock band. Another major difference is that back then, the music industry did not have the technology that we do now. These days, it’s super easy to make a track or implement cooler sounds with a few clicks that they simply did not have access to in the past.

There are various reasons why people enjoy listening to pop music. Shoumili Tarafder ‘26 says she listens to it because “everyone else does,” while Hana Sowelam ‘26 says, “I hear it on the radio all the time, and it makes me feel more connected to my mom.” They both enjoy listening to The Weeknd, who is currently the top artist on Spotify and writes and sings many pop songs.

Something I admire about pop is how every lyric has some sort of meaning, and how easy it is to get immersed in a song. Some of my favorite artists of all time are Taylor Swift and Conan Gray because of their variety. Both have the ability to write uplifting songs that you hear everywhere – like “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift. This is a song that Swift wrote as a response to the public’s perception of her and the negative comments she gets, the second line of every chorus being, “haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” I love this song because it just makes me happy and is a simple song, but despite that, Swift still manages to put her feelings and opinions about celebrity culture into it.

Pop music doesn’t only have to be uplifting. As long as a song is rhythmic with a distinguishable melody, it still counts as pop. Many pop artists have the ability to pull off absolutely heart-wrenching songs that make me want to sit in the corner and cry. One example of this is “Astronomy” by Conan Gray. Despite the quick, catchy beat, Gray sings about two people who were always close, starting to drift apart because, like everyone else, they change. He insists, “It’s astronomy, we’re two worlds apart.”

However, many people are starting to believe that pop music is declining because current artists are prioritizing profit over entertainment. Tarafder and Sowelam agree, saying that one especially big influence on pop music nowadays is TikTok. TikTok has many influencers who do a variety of different things, from making food to dancing and lip-syncing to songs to make money and gain fame, and many of these entertainers are beginning to write their own songs for the sole purpose of increasing their popularity and follower count. Unfortunately, since this is getting increasingly popular, this kind of music made by online influencers falls under the category of pop.

While this may be true, it is essential to keep in mind that pop isn’t the only genre declining. People only notice these changes in pop music because of its immense popularity, but in reality, this is happening across all genres, not only pop. Despite these trends, there is still exceptional pop music being released, and we should focus on the good music coming out.


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