Will Taylor Swift’s music be played (performed) fifty years from now? She is the first artist to have placed the top 10 on Billboard Hot 100. Like her or not, she surpassed The Beatles for the most titles from the top of Hot 100 in a single week. The Beatles had the top 5 in….1964! Almost 60 years ago! I, personally, don’t listen to Taylor. I’ve heard her music but stylistically it doesn’t move me. I think of her audience as 12–15-year-olds. But older adults I talk to speak favorably of her live performances. They view her as a positive influence on her fans. Like The Beatles she is popular in the UK much like the US. We’ve all heard The Beatles music for many years. A number of their originals are classified as “standards.” We all are not familiar with Taylor’s tunes. So, is Taylor an artist of this time/generation or for all time?
Pop music is an ever-changing landscape. How an artist is marketed, promoted, can ensure success if the budget permits. Ok, there needs to be the gift of talent to back up the product. And there is much talent to heard and seen. The pop music of the 1930’s was swing. Dancers loved the rhythm and feel of swing music. By the 50’s Rock and Roll became the dance choice. Elvis was king, them came The Beatles, Disco, Hip Hop, etc.—ever changing. Very few listeners who grew up with Sinatra, Bing Crosby, etc. could accept Rock and Roll. It was loud and noisy. The recording industry had to make changes. The studio musicians had difficulty adopting the new music. Very few swing drummers could relate to the feel of Rock. Today’s kids relate to Hip Hop, not swing.
Technological advances are a major influence on the present scene. The technology in the 30’s was the 78-rpm record. The disc could contain 3-5 minutes per side. By the late 40’s the long-playing record (LP) was introduced. This 33 1/3 rpm disc could contain 20 minutes per side. Today, digital recording, auto tune, sampling, drum machines, synthesizers among other inventions all go into the recording process. It has become the pop sound we hear. Streaming is the present-day source. Kids grow up hearing this sound and it becomes their sound scape.
Flexibility is the key to advancing forward. Maybe listening to Taylor Swift is worthwhile. She has a message and often we dismiss it due to our preconceptions. I had a teacher tell me to not dismiss listening to certain drummers even though they may not have been great. “You can learn new things from everybody.” No way in 1964 did The Beatles imagine they would be relevant in 2022. Fascinating when pop becomes standard.
I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on this.
“ ‘You can learn new things from everybody.’ No way in 1964 did The Beatles imagine they would be relevant in 2022.”
BINGO again, Barry.
This is also true with more abstract expressions, such as the late ’50s – ’60s “free jazz,” as I recall reading Leonard Bernstein’s statement after hearing Ornette Coleman live in the late 1950’s (not long after Kind of Blue was released) something close to: “Jazz 50 to 100 years from now will sound more like Ornette Coleman than Miles Davis.” Time always tells, doesn’t it?