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Does Today’s Music Indicate We’re A Narcissistic Society?

Submitted by on April 14, 2011 – 2:54 pmOne Comment

“Ain’t no question if I want it, I need it
I can feel it slowly drifting away from me
I’m on the edge, so why you playing? I’m saying
I will never ever let you live this down, down, down”

Kanye West, Gorgeous

One of the most important things music does for us is help provide an identifying mark on a certain point in time. It gives us with social commentary on the events of the moment.

It turns out that today’s hit records contain a great deal more content about “me, myself, and I” than about “us, we, and ours.” That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s not just hip-hop suffering from this diagnosis.  A study of the top songs on the charts, period—regardless of genre—all suggest we as a society are more concerned with our individual objectives, goals, and pursuits than about anyone else. The study, published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts sampled artists such as Kanye West, Rihanna, Pink, and even (gasp) Taylor Swift to draw this conclusion.

As far as we’re concerned, this should come as no surprise. It doesn’t necessarily have to serve as an indicator of narcissism, though. I met countless people over the past couple of years who loved Soulja Boy’s “Pretty Boy Swag” and “Turn My Swag On” because they took these songs to be “pump-up” records or songs that help psych us up for the day and provide a confidence boost. Couldn’t listeners be doing the same for the chart-toppers said to show our conceitedness?

The study also purports we are a much meaner society now than we were years ago. There is certainly more profanity in music today, along with angry, antisocial words which could contribute to this conclusion.

Furthermore, the study was actually conducted by doing a text analysis of the top 10 songs of the year from 1980 to 2007.  Because it merely analyzed the actual words which appeared in the songs and did not in any way take context into account, it may not be accurate enough to make its claims. Nevertheless, the study, conducted by the University of Kentucky, does call for us to look at ourselves in terms of our culture and music and do the math.

That said, what does your musical taste say about you?

Source: The Body Odd

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