While music has kept pace, even leaping ahead sonically, it seems as if the demand for vocal prowess has diminished. Was this done purposefully or is it a symptom of negative social breeding? In recent years nothing has punctuated music and been the voice of a generation more than the phenomenon of Hip-Hop culture. It began, as many trends have, with social concerns being baked into the party aesthetic.
Throughout the years this has given way to a new paradigm. While the craft of spoken word (in the form of Rap) was essentially perfected in the 1990s, the culture surrounding it has grown increasingly decadent. There is less of an appreciation for vocal prowess or meaningful content, and spinoff genres, such as EDM (and related styles) have a tendency to avoid vocals altogether. Certainly every generation loves to point to their artists as being the “real” representatives of the artform, but it is not difficult to see how economic incentives have reshaped the culture. Follow the money and you will find that artists who have less of a “message” have been disproportionately subsidized.
This begs the question: Is it just a stylistic preference where companies are meeting a demand, or is there a deliberate agenda to reduce the effectiveness of social communication through music?
Certainly with other mechanisms in place, such as social media filters, apps (and smart TVs) that record conversations, net neutrality arguments, it wouldn’t be far fetched to assume that the overall “narrative” of this generation is being manipulated. The next question to ask at that point would be: Has generalized cynicism kept us from realizing it? Maybe there is no right answer.