Poetry in Music

Other than literature and writing poetry, music is a major passion of mine. However, I have always seen poeticism and music as something separate when, in reality, that’s not entirely true. I think that in a lot of recent pop music, the poeticism in the lyrics of songs has significantly decreased, or really isn’t there at all. Part of me forgot that a lot of songs are derived from poetry and/or started as poems themselves. It can be a bit difficult to explain, but I can only describe it as the pop-music-brainwash, I suppose.

Personally, I generally enjoy pop music. It is what most of my Spotify is comprised of, but every now and then, I stumble across an artist or a band where I can only hear their songs as poetic. Right now, I’ve been into Bon Iver, an American folk band started by the lead singer Justin Vernon. Their songs are so complex that it becomes inspiring. I cannot help but focus on every aspect of them, almost as if I’m workshopping a poem in class. I look at the title, the lyrics, I interpret them and then try and figure out where the inspiration for the song came from. Then I decipher with myself why the music works to compliment the lyrics, as well as work on its own. I don’t find this kind of experience in a lot of pop music. In particular, I listened to Justin Bieber’s new song called “Yummy” and while I think it’s kind of catchy, I don’t get the kind of overwhelming experience like when I’m listening to Bon Iver. I’m not entirely sure if there is anything more here other than just acknowledging the diminishment of poetics in a lot of contemporary music.

2 Replies to “Poetry in Music”

  1. So while reading your post, my initial reaction was to dispute your opinion that Justin Bieber’s music is any way poetic. However, I do agree that music innately has poetic elements to it and contemporary music is losing track of that. I personally love music and recently I feel as if I can’t turn on a top hits station without immediately turning it off. I feel as if music is just losing its lyrical merit, choosing to focus more on cheap hooks and party bopping rhythms- especially contemporary rap. I’ve always believed that in order to find truly lyrical and poetic music, you have to avoid the mainstream and look towards the underground artists. Two of my favorite songs to listen to and analyze are called “Promise Me” and “The Jester” by BadFlower. Although they are Alt. Rock pieces, they contain so much lyrical depth while also keeping a engaging instrumental.

  2. I’m with you on thinking that a lot of pop-music is merely a catchy tag-line with not much depth. Yet the irony is that “pop” is merely “popular.” And while it is true that many gravitate towards the aesthetically pleasing to the ears, there are artists who lyrics are near bottomless and still make it in “pop” culture. Bon Iver is definitely one of them, and in the realm of rap and hip hop, I think of NF or Macklemore as having a solid following with a good amount of popular acclaim and poetic depth as well!

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