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“Music is God’s gift to man, the only art of Heaven given to earth, the only art of earth we take to Heaven.”
Deep? I know. While we all celebrate New Zealand’s music month, I thought I’d kick things off with this beautiful quote. No, it’s not some mysterious Māori one that folks love to bash, but from a poet—Walter Savage Landour. Not Savage, who sung “Swing” in an old dusty laundromat with super non-sexy women dancing around a washing machine. Rather, he’s a poet from the 18th century, whose quote seems so irrelevant these days.
Chris Rock reckons that, “in the old days it was easy to defend rap music on an intellectual level, why it was art on an intellectual level. Oh, it’s hard to defend some of the shit these days […] it’s hard to defend ‘I got hoes in different area codes’, it’s hard to defend ‘move, bitch, get out the way’.” He’s right though, isn’t he? Music doesn’t seem to be about anything anymore, the lyrics are superficial and the choruses are hideously repetitive, but annoyingly catchy.
Just one peek into NZ’s top 40 reveals the truth about what the general population consider good music nowadays. It’s all in the names: “I took a pill in Ibiza” / “Cheap Thrills” / “Panda”. Don’t get me wrong, these songs are the jam when you’re staggering into Estab on Saturday night, pissed off two bottles of the most inexpensive horse piss one could find. But take it from me and try actually listening to some of the music these days, truly listen to it.
Try making sense of how it is art, try to convince yourself of why it’s poetic. Do it to gain an appreciation for how horrible some of the lyrics are these days, mourn the diminishment of true musicians. Appreciate good music when you hear it and keep bangin’ to ones that have the sickest beats but the dumbest lyrics, because at the end of the day if you enjoy a bit of “I’m an Albatraoz” then kei a koe te tikanga.