The Illusion of Love Songs
Love songs are undoubtedly the bulk of popular music, and as early as the 1940s
Love songs are undoubtedly the bulk of popular music, and as early as the 1940s, scholars divided American popular songs of the time into three main categories: love songs in love, love songs that were frustrated, and love songs that expressed sexual desire. But to make such a conclusion in those days is surprising in the end. The popular music of those days was quite different from today's. Besides love songs, there were also many wanderers who remembered the warmth of their hometowns, soldiers who missed their mothers in their homeland, and city dwellers who lamented the traditional way of life. Love songs are not the only kind of songs that chant the emotion of loss.
Simon Frith, an expert on popular music, has defined popular music as a sentimental music, the reason being that whatever the subject matter of individual songs, they are almost always about loss. The death of a loved one, the disappearance of an old home, the passing of time, and of course the end of love are all common experiences and emotions. The most important thing is that we don't mind singing it out.
The simplest criterion to distinguish pop music from other art music (e.g. classical and jazz) is that it is singable and not singable, easy to sing and not easy to sing. Singable music resonates most easily, and you can hum the tunes that are easy on the ears and catchy in the shower or while driving. As for karaoke, that's not to mention the fact that Simon Frith believes that this is also the nature of modern religious songs, and that the difficulty of those hymns cannot be too high in churches and clubs where the faithful are required to chant in unison.
More importantly, the main theme of these religious songs is also sentimental, with the singers praying to God to heal their suffering and sorrow, or hoping for the coming of happiness in the midst of hardship. These gospel songs can easily be transformed into modern pop music - as Ray Charles did by turning spirituals into wild love songs and thus being objectively criticized - as long as we love a man or woman in the same way we love God. This transference is a necessary element of successful pop music, such as Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven," which was originally written as a eulogy for his deceased son, but somehow became a love song in a lounge, with emotional listeners thinking it was a tune for the love of their lives and pretending they were no longer alive.
Pop music is a collective form of emotion. And then hate it elegant listeners in love or lost time, but also unconsciously immersed in it, because they are everywhere, you do not have to deliberately listen, it will naturally in the mall, restaurant and car permeable floating, into your sound environment.
There was a time when pop music was really a kind of public music. People would listen to it in pubs and cafes, sharing collective sentiments, such as the ruin of homes in the midst of war, and elderly parents alone on faraway farms. While listening to these songs, we participate in the shaping of our collective identity because we share the same loss. That's why some songs related to the homesickness of wanderers are so popular in the mainland, after all, China is the country with the most migrant workers in the world.
The reason why love songs have become the mainstream of popular music is first and foremost a function of technology. The various devices for reproducing, storing and playing music have made it possible for performers and listeners not to coexist in the same space and time, and even more so for listeners to break down into atomic individuals. We no longer had to huddle with others; we could simply go to a record store, buy a record, or even download it directly from our computers, and listen to it in silence.
This technological revolution occurred at a crucial moment of social transformation: the collapse of the extended family, the fragmentation of the community neighborhood, and the shrinking of emotions that are projected onto only one other person. It is not without reason that love has become the most valued and celebrated emotion in the commonplace of our time.
When one is alone, especially at night, listening to a singer sobbing with the whispering skills given by modern recording equipment (in the old days the singer used his diaphragm, not his throat), you think he is someone you know, accompanying you in your loneliness and longing. The point is not whether you are the only two people left in the world, or whether what he sings is his own true feelings, but that he and you participate in this game of emotional forms, enriching and filling it. Love is an illusion, as are forms of emotion, but their effects are real.