In a recent music poll by CBS’ 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair, who seem to have become authorities on how Americans view contemporary music, it was suggested that the older the music, the better. Well… sort of. Without providing a detailed account of how many people were polled or a complete participant breakdown of age, region and culture, certain questions regarding accuracy come up. Moreover, it may be inferred from the report that the subjects surveyed were largely in the “disgruntled parent” category.
One section of the report is entitled “Pick One,” wherein Americans were asked to choose jazz or hip hop as a more important style of music. Presumably, “important” relates to the influence a particular genre has had on society. The results came back with a whopping 73 percent of Americans favoring jazz. Not a huge surprise there, if one were to look at the history of music in the U.S. In fact it is almost heartening to see that a category of music which has led to so many modern innovations in the industry is still being recognized as “important.” Still slightly intriguing is how out-of-balance the numbers are, particularly due to jazz’s undeniable decline in popularity among the youth. After all, when was the last time a jazz music video showed up back to back with Miley Cyrus?
In the most “telling” portion of the music poll dubbed, “Turn It Off,” Americans surveyed were asked which of the last five decades produced the worst music. The largest polled answer, once again, seems to suggest older music is better music. 42 percent seemed to agree that this decade is actually the lowest of the low. The four prior decades, the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s, faired roughly the same, ranging between 12 and 15 percent giving them thumbs down. Far be it from “someone” to question these numbers but just exactly how many youngsters, who seem to be the ultimate perpetuators of musical trends, were polled on this one? If younger age groups (teens and twenty-somethings) were represented equally in the poll, then what does this say about our society? How is pop music actually pop-u-lar if both young and old are truly disinterested? Would it not then become “un-pop” music?
Moreover, the other categories of this Vanity Fair/CBS News music poll “hint” at an older crowd of participants. One section was entitled “Girl’s Night: Who Would You Most Want to See With Your Daughter?” 39 percent chose Taylor Swift, while a paltry 3 percent chose Justin Bieber. Nothing shocking there, but clearly another indication that this poll is not geared towards a younger group. This is aside from yet another category in the report entitled “Do Your Homework,” where parents were asked which of five artists would they want to see their children study. 33 percent said The Beatles, 32 percent said Mozart, and only 5 percent said Jay-Z. One cannot help but wonder what the children of these parents would say.
Are these numbers a huge revelation? Is it so strange that many Americans, most likely adult, stick their noses in the air to current pop music and hold sacred the melodies of yesteryear? In the music poll, which appears on the CBS News website, a whopping 49 percent of participants get their “music on” through the medium of radio, while only 17 percent are using a “digital music service.” Furthermore, a measly 15 percent claim to use an iPhone, iPod or some other type of mp3 player. Does this sound like teens or even twenty-somethings were included in the project? The write-up does mention, in certain segments, that even 18-year-olds were included, but just how many? Without knowing, one may assume an appropriate title for this poll could have been: “Out of Touch Parents Still Think Older Music is Better.”
Opinion by Josh Taub