Technology Killed Music


Jack Lieberman, Editor-in-Chief

Recently, I watched a documentary called “Sound City,” an absolutely phenomenal documentary about the Sound City recording studio in the San Fernando Valley. The director, Dave Grohl and founder/lead singer/lead guitarist of my favorite band, the Foo Fighters, shows off this dump of a recording studio, but reveals how in the shadows it has paved the way for some of the greatest and most successful bands and singers to ever live.

The film documents the music industry from the end of the 60s all the way to the 90s, where technology started taking over, ultimately forcing Sound City to close down. Being an avid music listener, the documentary struck me hard and had me thought provoked the entire time with one idea: technology killed music. Now I understand that the beauty and elegance of music is in the eye of the beholder, and that some music sounds good to some but not others. Sadly, the art and genuineness of music died when laptops and state-of-the-art soundboards were released.

Technology can imitate a drum beat, or the riffs of a guitar, or even make an amateur singer sound like he is the next Elvis Presley with a more than beautiful voice, all done with the clicks of a laptop. Inventions like this caused music greats to fade away and become forgotten, and soon paved the way for what I call the ‘lazy’ artists. Artists and bands nowadays like Drake, Nicki Minaj, 5 Seconds of Summer, and One Direction (just to name a few) have little talent in making music and rely on the crutch of a laptop, auto tune, sampling, and some splicing to make them sound like they belong with the greats.

Some examples of this are “Hey Everybody” by 5 Seconds of Summer which samples “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran and uses auto tune to “improve” their voices. “Hotline Bling” by Drake is just a repetitive, pointless single used to make money with no real effort or meaning put into it. And to top off my justification of lazy music examples, the song “Anaconda” (which samples Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”) by Nicki Minaj is overly sexual and has no real genuineness to it, and only brings  thoughts of sexualizing and objectifying women to mind.

“Musicians” such as these examples are too lazy to make their own creative beat, so they overuse the tool of sampling to make their content. Music to me was the best and most genuine when bands and artists like Fleetwood Mac, Rush, Nirvana, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, REO Speedwagon, and the Rolling Stones took the stage with real instruments and the passion in their soul to give one hell of a show to their fans. Bands and artists of the time before the more recent ’00s were making killer music with pure talent and passion, not using a laptop to make them sound “awesome.”

The song “Hold the Line” by Toto uses a strong lead piano presence with the intense riffs of the lead guitar all tied by the commanding pound of the drums complement the intensity of the lyrics, encouraging you to air guitar while “Hold the line” is screamed in front of the shred of a guitar solo. Also, the song “Killing In The Name of” by Rage Against the Machine begins with a hard slam on the drums along with a heavy guitar strum to lead into the intensity and head banging journey you are about to endure. And finally, “Let’s Have A War” by Fear invites you into a blood rushing experience with the loud and fast talking voice of lead singer Lee Ving with great enthusiasm and passion. These bands relied on their voices and genuine practice day after day to achieve great music such as the examples I gave above.

This includes all older music, not just rock bands and old pop, but all music alike. It was all killed when technology was introduced to the world. Take rap for example. Today we see rappers like Lil Wayne, Big Sean, Kanye West, Drake, the list goes on. They use crutches such as pro tools and splicing to make their music appeal to our technology-ridden generation. Don’t get me wrong, you have to have some talent to make music and rap, but the authenticity is not there.

I believe most of today’s modern rappers and pop stars are just looking to push out bland and dull music that appeals to this generation to siphon the most amount of money from people as they can. It’s not about making music for the fans and for the fact of making music, it’s about putting out some ‘ehh’ repetitive rap with a beat behind it to make a lot of money off of it. Rap back before the modern time was about real issues, problems, struggles, and life in general. Rappers and groups like NWA, Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., and LL Cool J rapped stories of their lives and spoke to the people on a personal level through every verse.

It is just not happening today like it used to, all thanks to technology. Real artists that are in it for the music can’t compete with today’s ‘lazy’ artists that push out content every week for the easy buck. “Rather than go to the best studio in the world down the street in Hollywood, rather than use all the fanciest computers you can buy, we made this record with some microphones and a tape machine,” Dave Grohl had to say in his ‘Wasting Light’ album, ‘Best Rock performance’ award speech about modern music.