As a teenager we all felt the peer pressure of our friends and society about the kind of music we should like, or what is considered ‘good’ music. As an adult, we read reviews, follow trends, and still allow society to dictate what we buy and listen to throughout our lives. So what is it about society and the need to follow the crowd? Recently, I have been reading a book entitled Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment by Anita Elberse, who talks about how people want to follow winners, whether it is the head of a record label pushing an artist to superstar status, to targeting a group of people to grow the popularity of said artist. The goal and need of the label is to make this artist a winner and to gain followers and momentum within their career, because if they don’t, the artist is dropped and everyone fails, including the artist, the label, and the fans.
A big controversy when I was a teenagers in the late 90s to the early 00s was the battle of the two biggest boy bands in the world – N’SYNC and the Backstreet Boys. You couldn’t like both. Nope, you only had the option of liking one or other. As a teenager I had a secret, which was the fact that I had albums of both bands, and yes I broke the rules. Do you think I would have ever told my friends? No way. As I got older, and got more into the liner notes of the albums I bought, I realized that the music was written by the same person! So why couldn’t I like both bands when the music was not only written by the same person, but the same manager developed both groups too? Another hater group when I was growing up was the group of kids into hip-hop. The years of the popularity of the Wu-Tang Clan, the Beastie Boys, Diddy, the Fugees, and the starting of Eminem. Basically, anyone who liked pop music was not in any kind of agreement on what constituted as good music. Again, I had albums of both the Wu-Tang Clan and Beastie Boys and I can still recite every lyric to ‘Intergalactic.’ Finally, you have the group that is into alternative music, like Jimmy Eat World, Less Then Jake, Goldfinger, Radiohead, Oasis, and Fall Out Boy. I’m sure you have started to see my pattern here, but this group was more opinionated then anyone. If this group of teens found out you listened to pop music then they had more then a few words to make you feel degraded and question your own taste.
Like everyone, I had a big fear of what my friends thought of my choices from music to fashion, but why does it matter if the music you listen to is considered winners? Can’t individuals like music because they like the song? The voice of the artist? The technique and the sound of the band? Back in 2010, when I first heard of Ariana Grande, she was a reoccurring character on a show called Victorious, and everyone of my adult friends made fun of me for watching it since it was a kid’s show. Now, the majority of them listen to her since she is a superstar. Leading the trend is always better then following it. So, sing those songs that get you dancing in the car, or better yet grab that hair bush as you are getting ready for work and become that pop star singing your favorite jam, because guilty pleasures never go out of style.
Love this song, Elizabeth Gillies, and Ariana Grande – circa 2010