How Popular Music’s Lyrics Perpetuate American Idiocy


Claire Bernish

May 20, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) A recent study served to confirm the patently obvious: song lyrics for the most popular genres of music are ridiculously obtuse — and getting worse over time. Though this might not be a revelation, the figures are distressing indicators of both an intellectually vapid societal and cultural future as well as its apparent inevitability.

If you’ve already moved away from Billboard music, congratulations, you refuse to be insulted. But if you haven’t, or if you’re concerned about pop culture trends acting as portents of systemic dysfunction, you should probably pay attention. Andrew Powell-Morse of SeatSmart studied the “Lyric Intelligence” of 225 Billboard songs in the Pop, Country, Hip-hop, and Rock genres that spent three or more weeks parked at the top of the charts to analyze any changes over the course of ten years. And change there was.

Ten years ago, the most popular songs read between a third and fourth grade level, but the inanity only increased with time, and after a five-year downward tumble ending in 2014 (the last year of the study), chart-topping hits had a reading level equivalent to second or third grade. Broken into genres, the levels measured just 2.6 for Hip-hop/R&B, a tie of 2.9 for Rock and Pop, and faring best was Country at 3.3 — though declaring a winner in this insipid race to the bottom seems somewhat defeatist. Even further to that point, the most intellectually stimulating song, Blake Shelton’s Country hit “All About Tonight”, measured just 5.8, while wading deeply into the ludicrous was Three Days Grace’s “The Good Life”, at a level equivalent to 0.8 — begging the question, did they have to try to craft lyrics a kindergartner could easily read?

So how did this happen and why is it getting even worse? For the sake of brevity, this is a systemic issue being reinforced across the board by pandemic anti-intellectualism. Some have argued there is no harm in a bit of mindless distraction, but this is incontrovertibly false. When just six corporations control 90% of the media, and 80% of radio stations have identical playlists, mindless content isn’t a choice — it’s a virtual mandate. In this self-propelled cycle of banality, the conglomerates dictate content to be promoted by radio, which in turn pushes it endlessly, creating a false perception that what is being played is due to listener demand. But this insidious marketing ploy is more akin to kidnapping and is every bit as dangerous.

There is a dearth in music options over the airwaves, so when vacuous lyrics are foisted on listeners, they become captives under duress. It is scientifically proven that flexing the intellect can slow cognitive decline, but there has been a cultural shift away from stimulating thought in favor of homogenization and living for the moment, and empty radio content is both symptom and reinforcement of that trend. Society is focused on entertainment, materialism, and self-promotion, and when coupled with a need for instant gratification, it’s really no wonder we’re in such a sorry state. Occasional forays into mindless distraction would be understandable and harmless if they were just forays, but the foundation is faulty due to a sharp decline in quality education at every level.

Education has become the highest form of indoctrination with teachers forced into regurgitating information so their students can pass tests rather than become innovators and original thinkers. And who could blame them? Currently, they’re held to the ridiculous system where their performance is ranked, and salary determined by how those students perform on standardized tests that are, themselves, flawed. As Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, put it, “This country has spent billions on accountability, not on the improvement of teaching and learning at the classroom level.”

An education system based almost solely on taking tests is not only intellectually dimming, it’s stressful — instructors doling out the tests are given a set of instructions for what to do when students vomit on their test booklets. All of this is designed to send students to college where the situation is perpetuated. According to Catherine Liu, a film and media studies professor at the University of California, “We don’t educate people anymore. We train them to get jobs.”

Listen: ‘Reagan’ by Killer Mike on Anti-Media

From a political standpoint, all this ‘dumbing down’ makes sense: indoctrination creates obedience. If music and culture focus on mindless diversion, and education lacks, well, education, then people lack the acuity necessary to question the absurdity of the system. Those who manage to liberate themselves from this mold and have the gumption to question official authority will find a cozy spot on the government’s watch list. So while we bemoan our country’s lack of intellectual prowess, it isn’t by a failure of design.

The author of aptly titled Idiot America, journalist Charles Pierce, thoroughly summed up the issue this way: “The rise of idiot America today represents–for profit mainly, but also and more cynically, for political advantage in the pursuit of power–the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good.”

Unfortunately, if the lyrics study is a prognostic omen, the epidemic of idiocy will only get worse.

via How Popular Music’s Lyrics Perpetuate American Idiocy.

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Top Mandela Quotes – Selections From JCO


  • I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

  • A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.

  • A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.

  • There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.

  • It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.

  • If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America.

  • It is wise to persuade people to do things and make them think it was their own idea.

  • Sometimes, I feel like one who is on the sidelines, who has missed life itself.

  • Unlike some politicians, I can admit to a mistake.

  • Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace.

  • Any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose.

  • To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.

  • Nonviolence is a good policy when the conditions permit.

  • I was called a terrorist yesterday, but when I came out of jail, many people embraced me, including my enemies, and that is what I normally tell other people who say those who are struggling for liberation in their country are terrorists.

  • Where globalization means, as it so often does, that the rich and powerful now have new means to further enrich and empower themselves at the cost of the poorer and weaker, we have a responsibility to protest in the name of universal freedom.

  • You know, you can only lead them from behind.

  • We must understand the seriousness of this situation. The United States has made serious mistakes in the conduct of its foreign affairs, which have had unfortunate repercussions long after the decisions were taken.

  • I am prepared to die.

  • When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.
  • We chose to defy the law. We first broke the law in a way which avoided any recourse to violence; when this form was legislated against, and then the Government resorted to a show of force to crush opposition to its policies, only then did we decide to answer violence with violence.

Nelson Mandela reflection of time

Dave Chappelle in Hartford walks off stage, heckled. What happened? (VIDEO)


“I only have three minutes left. And when my three minutes is up, my ass is gone. I’m going straight to the bank and doing night deposit.” He then walked off stage to Kanye West’s “New Slaves.”

via Dave Chappelle in Hartford walks off stage, heckled. What happened? (VIDEO).

I by no means was as wildly popular as Dave Cappelle, but I wonder if Cappelle is using the type of contract I used in music before I left for good, the Clean Cut Contract.

A Clean Cut Contract is just what is says it is. All money that is owed is paid at the time of performance or work created.

Frankly, I did not care who you were I was not getting into a contractual obligation that required money to be owed to me.

It can be a smart move, but it comes with risk of course. But I think better risk than getting entangled with a corporate powerhouse.

 

Conservative Conglomerate Plantations


Conservative conglomerate plantations

Editorial Artist Unknown

This editorial cartoon reflects historical view points of The JC Organization.

Not all, but most, plantations were exploitative conglomerates that manipulated published works to skew public opinion and to mislead public opinion for the sake of profitability. And by thus, harming humanity, including conservatives that were not conglomerates.

The lesser Conservative were guilty for looking the other way, much in the same vein that a that a cop that sees corruption and looks the other way is a corrupt cop too.

Research suggested that the lesser conservatives did not have the lobbying power and went with the flow as to not cause disruption of their already precarious position. Nevertheless, the lesser conservative was systematically being primed for exploitation themselves.