My Views on Mainstream Music
A few years ago I got rid of 95% of my music collection. Wrapped up on all those jewel cases and cover art was a lot of my old self--memories, repetitive thoughts, and feelings.
Popular, commercial music, in my view, is ultimately created to make money. Radio stations have to sell ads, artists have to sell music, and they're both going after a certain demographic, so they pair up. It's designed to make us feel something so we'll spend a little to repeat it at our leisure, or call in and request it from our favorite DJ.
I can't speak for others, but I've definitely attached memories and feelings to music. Anita Baker, Marvin Gaye and early solo Michael Jackson remind me of my parents. Tears for Fears, Bon Jovi, New Edition and the Go-Gos remind me of grade school and lazy summers in West Texas (there was no urban station where I grew up, and MTV was just getting started). Kwame and Mary J. Blige (What's the 411, hon) remind me of my best friends from 8th grade and the early part of high school. The Roots and Tribe Called Quest were common when I was in college -- I think I went to at least four of their concerts in my early 20s. Certain songs remind me of old boyfriends or the times when I was living, quite frankly, a crazy lifestyle. The music mirrored me, and I mirrored the music.
I used to pull out specific songs to promote or coddle whatever feeling was tugging at my heart at any given moment. When I wanted to reminisce about an old flame, get hype before a party, or feel cute, there was an app for that. Other artists were perfect for days when I felt moody, depressed, angry or filled with angst. Now, maybe not everyone is so affected by music, but once I realized I was and that I did not want to be caught up in it anymore, I knew I had to let it go... but that did not mean I stopped loving music.
Now I listen to what I call "the music of life"--the stuff that promotes godliness and right living. First and foremost, the music of life helps promote praising and worshiping God. It reminds me of where I've been and prompts me to thank Him. It reminds me of who I am according to what God says, which can spark repentance, forgiveness, and other positive change. In so many cases, it helps me remember scripture -- the bread of life -- and sooths me, comforts me, and empowers me. Some of my favorites lately are Mali Music, Kevin Levar, Shawn McDonald, Meredith Andrews, Ashmont Hill and Sho Baraka.
Does that mean I think all mainstream music is bad? No, not all of it is, but I'm much more selective about what I support (read: what I buy). I listen to the lyrics and pay close attention to the sentiment or thought the artist is promoting. If it doesn't promote life, then it doesn't have any place in mine.
One of my faves: