The Truth Behind “Real Music”

Rani Hamilton, Staff Writer

“Man, this is real music.”

Ah, the all too familiar phrase we hear during heated discussions about music in the YouTube comments of an 80’s music video. The grunge-addicted teenagers are most prone to saying this, believing their taste in music is superior to anyone else’s. Let’s be honest though, we all do. Everyone believes their taste in music is better than the person sitting next to them. You could believe Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” changed the world for the better, while I believe Gorillaz’ “On Melancholy Hill” created music itself. I could blast “Bonfire” by Childish Gambino at a party, while an Aerosmith fan sits on the couch and angrily turns up their headphones playing “Dream On”.   

Often times, songs that are considered “real music” are songs that are recorded and performed with real instruments. You’ve got the band there, in the studio, playing the whole song in REAL LIFE. Merriam-Webster defines music as, “sounds that are sung by voices or played on musical instruments”, though. Try thinking of any song that doesn’t use instruments or have any type of voice. Yes, even dubstep uses instruments. Artists like Skrillex use unique types of keyboards, such as the FM8, to create their music. The sounds don’t sound like your everyday instruments, but that doesn’t make them false. What makes pre-recorded sounds put together to create a song any less valid than one recorded live? Does a real set of drums playing in the studio make the song organic? Will it improve my diet? At the end of the day, it will basically sound the same as a pre-recorded drum set.

Boybands are a primary victim of the “real music” attacks. One of the first big boy bands was The Beatles. Everyone knows The Beatles and their catchy music, and once upon a time they weren’t two dead guys, Paul McCartney and that one guy who has a name similar to the chameleon from Nickelodeon’s 2011 film “Rango”. They were actually a group of 4 British guys that women swooned over whenever they breathed. To this day they are considered one of the best bands to have ever set foot in a recording studio. While the Beatles are consistently praised, boy band One Direction is looked down upon by the older generation and salty music fans that for some reason think pop music is the creation of the Devil. Although the two bands are completely different in their tones of music, they’re both boy bands. The Beatles, similar to One Direction, originally didn’t even play instruments live. They more-so morphed into a band as they grew. The whole of One Direction hasn’t done this (and probably never will), but Niall sure does mess that guitar up during their concerts, and their back-up band plays all the instruments left. Niall Horan has saved One Direction fans from the argument of “they don’t play instruments live.”.  

Songs with bad vocals are considered real music, too. Remember “Friday” by Rebecca Black? The most iconic song of 2011? As much as it pains me to type this in 2016, and probably pains you to read, even THAT was music. Not everyone thought Black’s vocals were too poor to bear, though. I’ll be honest, after a good 3 months I bought the song and had it on my iPod (11 year old me had no idea what to spend her money on). Thinking somebody’s vocals are bad is an opinion in itself. You can’t determine if someone’s vocals are terrible, because there’s always going to be somebody who finds that person’s vocals completely fine.

We’re all entitled to our opinion when it comes to music, but saying there’s such thing as “real music” just isn’t true. All genres of music are music, and it’s as simple as that. Just because you believe your phone is full of better bops than your friends doesn’t mean that it makes other music “fake”. Is it really that deep, anyways? Music is an important part of lots of our lives, but is it so important that we have to argue about who has better judgement of it? (Says the person who just wrote a whole article arguing about it.) Music was created to be enjoyed by others, and turning it into a debate about whether or not it’s “real” is a waste of time.