Contemporary Music Is Not Art

The Bard once proclaimed, “If music be the food of love, play on.”

Such is the power of music to pluck at heartstrings and enrich the souls of mankind. Such is the power to nourish the human mind. Such is the power to give strength to previously unfelt emotions of intense happiness and pain.

Then can just any music be considered art? The value of music therein lies in its artistic value. True art is a legacy – it must be able to endure the ravages of time and span across space. It must be an everlasting anchor to men; timeless and significant. Above all, art must also reflect a slice of humanity.

A point of comparison must first be established by the juxtaposition of unarguably the greatest musicians of both the classical and contemporary realm– Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, circa 1756 to 1791 versus Michael Jackson, circa 1957 to 2009. Both were prolific and influential men in their respective music scenes and their works have been heaped with accolade after accolade, whether posthumous or not. What made Mozart and Michael Jackson truly remarkable artistes of all time was the theme of human emotions in their works. The Marriage of Figaro weaves a profound tale of love, betrayal and forgiveness into complex overtures, whereas Thriller, on the other extreme, screams paranoia, terror and darkness with elements that would haunt a child in his scariest dreams; the beasts, the night creatures and the killers. The presence of paranoia in Wacko Jacko’s masterpieces probably stemmed from the man himself: his Peter Pan mentality betrayed his obvious unnatural fear of aging as he poured millions of dollars into his Neverland and countless age-defying cosmetic surgeries. Even as strikingly different these two Kings of their own scenes were, their celebration and reflection of the very essence of humanity in their works is what makes them deserving of being master artistes of the realm. The ability to resonate primal...