Separation of Musical Talent and Taste
by Kelly Grenfell
I know almost all the words to Akon and Kardinal Offishall’s “Dangerous” song, a majority of the dance moves to Miley Cyrus’ “Hoedown Throwdown,” and am even willing to give Leighton Meester a chance with her latest hit“Somebody to Love.” I’m eclectic. And I prefer to ignore my peers’ opinions when it comes to my musical taste.
But how do I justify my latest downloads when the artists are making negative tabloid headlines? In other words, should I care when my musical taste becomes a moral dilemma for worldly debate?
Two artists who frequent my Top 25 Most Played playlist include Chris Brown and Michael Jackson, whose private lives seem to be far from clandestine lately.
I remember I was a sophomore in college when Chris Brown’s “Run It” was topping charts and permeating the airwaves. The first, in a long line of singles released by the youth of yesterday, Brown’s vocal chords are incredible, and I’ll “forever” unite his lyrics with memories from my undergraduate days.
As for the King of Pop, I was in my high school dance class when I was first introduced to his musical talent in “Beat It.” However, it didn’t take long before I was the proud owner of his History: Past, Present, and Future album, and was taping every TV documentary on his life and family. I was obsessed, and continue to be because I believe his work remains untouchable.
But what about the legacy of Jackson’s personal life? Or what of Brown’s anger management issues and recent assault charges? Even after the numerous charitable donations, and hospital visitations, there still remains disturbing allegations. If these two performers were regular Joes, their behavior would hardly be dismissed once brought before the media spotlight. Scrutinized, criticized, and possibly even ruined in reputation; their lives would be the perfect demonstration of the “one bad decision” scale all too well.
But what about our beloved musical artists? Surely the “one bad decision” scale would outweigh their charisma as well? History would seem to show this just isn’t the case, and I am one of the fans guilty of making it a double standard.
As a consumer we compartmentalize. We have to in order to feel comfortable purchasing albums in public. It’s an unfortunate twist on the forgive and forget mentality. But then again, maybe our reasoning isn’t completely without merit. Maybe we’re too hard on the regular Joes of society, and should be giving them an opportunity for redemption like the musical talents we call inspiring. After all, we’re all human.
Perhaps its because artists are in the spotlight more, that the world expects them to be upholding a better demonstration of dignity already. Perhaps the double standard in their flawed decisions is in part created by the double standard we demand of their everyday actions to begin with. Perhaps in the end, we are more to blame then we realize for the vicious cycle of injustice we call reality.
Although personally my musical purchases will continue to remain separated from the media’s search for sensational headlines, I believe the moral question remains and needs to be resolved by individuals on a case-by-case basis. We should care about what we are listening to, because it speaks volumes about our character. Choose your downloads wisely, and remember your role and responsibility as a consumer.