2010s: The music that made us

BY KATE MESSAM

They are more than just songs

The death of Trayvon Martin in 2013 inspired the Black Lives Matter movement. Consequently, the movement spurred “black protest music” into a realm of normalcy in the music industry.

During the end of his term, President Obama supported the movement. Obama faced backlash, though, as the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ bothered many throughout the country because of the association that this lessened the importance of other races’ lives. The former president clarified his stance in 2016 during an interview with ABC anchor David Muir that, “it’s to suggest that other folks aren’t experiencing this particular vulnerability.”

Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” music video shocked viewers with its graphic, eye-opening depictions of violence against African Americans.

“A big misconception about the Black Lives Matter movement is that it is a hate group against law enforcement and the white community,” said Aniya Harris, 12. “The movement is precisely what it says: our lives matter too.”

Other than Obama, musicians began writing songs about the violence that they have encountered and the inequality their race faces as a whole.

“This Is America” by Childish Gambino takes the audience on a visual journey to show them that, in the eyes of Gambino, their entertainment is more important than protecting the lives of black America. Amongst all of the chaos and death in the music video, Gambino keeps the focus on his singing and his dancing with young black students.
Harris addresses the problem of entertainment over what the audience needs to take out of the music.

Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar performing at the BET Awards in 2015 with their song “Freedom,” a song that celebrates black women. Lamar’s rap focuses on racism that continues to rage on within the country.

“The society we live in today only responds to what we want to see and what we want to hear,” said Harris.
However, artists are not stopping their activism because of others missing the meaning of their songs.

Performing “Freedom” with Kendrick Lamar at the Black Entertainment Television Awards in 2016, Beyonce embraced her position as a political artist. Starting the show with a voiceover of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the performance flowed into an incredible show of talent and activism. The duo sang their powerful lyrics celebrating colored women and touched on slavery and the Black Lives Matter movement.
As rap has become the dominate form of pop music, these issues of politics, wrongful violence, and social justice have come with it to the forefront.


Boy bands will never die

Jonas Brothers: The reunion we all needed

The Jonas Brothers were a staple in Gen Z’s childhoods. With their roles in the Camp Rock franchise, the creation of their show Jonas and a multitude of albums and tours, the Jonas Brothers were everywhere.

Their rock and pop-punk music amassed millions of fans across the world, but they broke hearts in 2013 after they split over “creative differences.” Joe Jonas and Nick Jonas started their own successful solo artist careers, while brother Kevin Jonas focused on his family.

After years apart, the Jonas Brothers thrilled fans with their shock reunion in 2019 by releasing their first single together in six years, “Sucker”. The song spent 38 weeks on the Billboard charts. The brothers new album focuses on their families and the new bond that they created over the recent years.

One Direction: Nobody can drag them down

Since forming in 2010 on the X Factor, One Direction has become one of the biggest groups in music history. Their first album, Up All Night, inspired a faithful following of young, pop-loving tweens. Their music, however, was not considered serious in the eyes of others.

As their style quickly outgrew the stereotypical boy band with choreographed stage directions to artists who write their own songs and play instruments on stage, the U.K. based group boosted into an entire new level of fame.

One Direction released one last album, Made in the A.M., in 2015 before calling it quits and starting their own solo careers.

Through their career, the boys were able to grow from a sole pop act into one that was heavily inspired by rock artists like Bruce Springsteen and The Who

BTS: The K-pop group that dominated America

“Gangnam Style” by PSY elevated the relatively unknown genre of Korean pop music into American culture, but once the song became overplayed, K-pop did not stay relevant in the U.S. charts. Not until 2017 did K-pop make a comeback with the help of BTS.

The South Korean group elevated into fame in the U.S. with their hit song “DNA”. That year, they won a Billboard Music Award and were in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 charts. Later, they made their debut on U.S. television by performing at the American Music Awards.

The seven members create songs that are almost entirely in Korean, with the exception of a few other languages they sing, but their fan base reaches all corners of the world. Their enormous success in such a wide variety of countries, including America, breaks the mold of award winning artists singing in English.

As of right now, BTS is considered as the world’s biggest boy band, so it is no wonder why their lyrics, concepts, dancing, and shining personalities have earned the adoration of fans across the globe.



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