Ah, don’t you love inter-generational rivalry? My music/clothes/cars/whatever-else-you-have trumps yours! If there’s anything that’s fair game it’s that whatever is new is always crap compared to my generation! And as sure as you roll your eyes when someone says it about the things you like today, given time, you’ll probably utter a similar treatise on the next generation.
I rarely have use for rose colored glasses on the past. And when I saw this Beyonce vs Mercury meme making the rounds, my head nearly exploded.
There’s so much wrong with this comparison and I thought surely someone else has made an argument against this rather than just nod in affirmation that the music then was so much better than today. Well, I found a couple of articles. One wisely points out that it’s ridiculous to compare the artists. The times are different, how music is credited today is different, etc. In the comments for that same article, it’s also pointed out that whoever made this meme rather unfairly posts nearly the entirety of the Queen song but only the chorus for the song by Beyonce. Another writer took a feminist bent on this and felt that it was rather too convenient that a woman’s song was chosen as the ‘inferior’ modern day choice.
What I didn’t find is that it’s just plain asinine to pick any one song from today and compare it to a song from 30+ years ago that obviously has staying power on its side. Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is a classic now. It’s survived decades and crossed generations. How about we wait a couple of decades and compare a song from today that has passed that same test rather than cherry picking a song from today to compare to the best that yesteryear has to offer?
Since this meme was supposed to prove that the song quality has dropped since 1975 when Bohemian Rhapsody hit the scene, how about we show the more things change, the more they stay the same? I decided to pull up the music charts for the same time period. And yes, I’m incredibly guilty of cherry picking as well, but here’s the chorus for a Marvin Gaye song I Want You that was #4 on the pop charts in 1976.
Incredibly full of meaning isn’t it? Mind you, I’m not belittling the song. I just think this is closer to being a fair comparison. A fairly random song from the mid 1970’s compared to a contemporary song, and staying consistent by only comparing the chorus of both songs. I considered going with an obscure choice with my selection from the same period as Bohemian Rhapsody, and there were many artists on the charts that I didn’t recognize, but I think a comparison with a still-known artist was more fair since I think we’ll still likely know who Beyonce was in a couple of decades.
This is in no way a celebration of Beyonce. No offense to her fans, but her music is not even on my radar. It’s the idea that the olden days were inherently better just bothers me. The notion that producers and agents and accountants were killing ‘modern’ music is one that long preceded Freddie Mercury. Yet we also live in a time when you and I have far more choice. If you don’t like what you hear on the radio, there are many online services to explore new artists that aren’t mainstream. Far more productive than wasting time passing judgement on whose generations is best in my opinion.