The ways of music are vastly changing. There are dozens of genres and whilst there are the more popular kinds, such as general pop, rock, R&B, etc, people align themselves to different kinds of music. Technology has made it so that music is more easily accessible, anywhere, at any time. Music has many great effects. In fact, music is even beneficial to a person’s health and mood. Studies have shown that people who listen to music regularly, score higher on intelligence tests than people who do not. This is because they can retain more information when in a happier mood for longer periods of time. Moreover, music provides the temporal cues that have the potential to make more efficient use of physical energy within the body, as described in studies produced to understand why people like to listen to music when they study, or do some sort of physical activity.
As mentioned before, there are so many different kinds of music it is almost hard to keep track! This includes music from different cultures. It is quite popular for example, to listen to Spanish music. Many English artists, such as Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato and Ed Sheeran, have collaborated with Spanish singers to bring entertainment for their different audiences. Additionally, Korean music, more commonly known as ‘K-pop’, is becoming more and more popular globally, to the point where artists such as ‘Black Pink’, ‘EXO’, ‘NCT 127’, and arguably the most common K-pop group, ‘BTS’, have risen to the top of the charts around the world and are breaking world records – a first in the history of ‘K-pop’. BTS have, in a way, set some high standards for the rest of the K-pop community. They are the first group since The Beatles to earn three No. 1 albums in less than a year and are the first K-pop group to perform at large American award shows such as The Grammys and the Billboard Music Awards. They also became the first Korean group to reach No.1 on the Billboard Artist 100 chart, breaking more records among musical duos and groups as they keep their spot on the chart for eight consecutive weeks with their hit single ‘Dynamite’, released in English. This song reached around 17.5 million streams in just the US alone, and now we ask the question of why music like this is so popular and makes people so happy.
Most people just sing the lyrics to the song that is playing, just being in the moment, without stopping to think about what they are actually singing. Take some classic British culture songs for example, you know the ones everyone knows because they are played so often, such as ‘Mr Brightside- The Killers’, do people actually realise what the lyrics are? To quote a few lines from this song as an example for you, the beginning of the chorus goes, “ Jealousy, turning saints into the sea, swimming through sick lullabies…”. Now, as an English student, I could argue there is somewhat of a deep meaning behind these lyrics – and you could think the same. But, in all honesty it is just a catchy song that makes little sense, but it still makes us all feel quite happy and energetic when we hear it. While yes, it is true musicians produce music for the entertainment of their audience, many artists have, in the past few years, drawn more to writing lyrics to reflect their own feelings and perhaps important societal issues. One of the most streamed and viewed songs in the past few years is ‘Shape of You’ by Ed Sheeran, which I must admit, is quite an energetic and fun song. Yet, within his album ‘Divide’ where this song is taken from, he includes songs about mental health struggles, and even the loss of his grandmother. However, these are not his most popular songs.
Looking back towards how BTS have reflected upon their success, how have they engaged their rapidly growing global audience? In an interview with MTV News in 2018, a year where they gained much popularity in the US, the leader of the group, known as ‘RM’ quotes, “We wanted to be a method of help for the world…we wanted to try to use our abilities and our skills and some of our inside inspirations to help the world.” One of the older members, known as ‘SUGA’, adds to this by saying, “When I think back to when I was a student, I listened to a lot of music, and it was a way for me to escape and to reassure myself. Nowadays, teens, people in their early twenties, listen to music, but we felt, and I feel that really, there wasn’t a lot of good-sounding, healthy music to listen to that helps them — that there was a lack of that that we could fill.” Much of the music this group produces is uplifting, take ‘Dynamite’ as an example mentioned earlier, and ‘Boy With Luv’. In 2018 they released one of their best-selling albums ‘Love Yourself: Answer’, and while many of the songs were more uplifting, when translating the lyrics, we see that the group have attempted to show to their audience their own life struggles and can relate to others. A lyric that stands out to me personally would be the chorus of their song ‘Answer: Love Myself’, which is “You showed me I have reasons, I should love myself”, reflecting how through the love and support of their fandom they have become more positive in the ways they treat themselves. This is one of the many examples I could give as to how music can affect us all individually in many different ways. Music is a method of understanding a person’s happiness, sadness, fear, etc. Whatever the emotion is that we need to feel, music can help to allow a person to sit back and just feel whatever is happening. When we are happy, we listen to more uplifting, upbeat music to give off more positive vibes; when we are stressed and want to calm ourselves we listen to music with more soothing tones. For me, I like to listen to songs that have meanings which move me and motivate me to do better.
As for this pandemic, I am sure we could all use some more good vibes. Stream your favourite songs on repeat, even when you’re studying because we all know how stressful that can be. Stay happy people!