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The issue: Pop Music

Even at a small school like Eastern, there exists a broad spectrum of musical tastes. We have avid country fans, hipsters into folksy music, hard core rap supporters and people who are really only comfortable listening to contemporary Christian rock.

What everyone has in common, though, is that we are all to some degree familiar with pop music, whether we like it or not. What I shall argue is that all people not only may, but also should listen to pop music. Not only is it morally acceptable, but it is also necessary to being a friendly, relatable and culturally-situated person.

My first argument is that pop music and other, more complex types of music should not be thought to have the same purpose. Katy Perry is not Beethoven and she doesn’t pretend to be. Beethoven’s symphonies are constructed to reveal grand things to the listener – war, death, joy, resurrection – through the use of proper instrumentation and subtlety. Songs like “California Gurls,” however, are meant to be immediately consumed and shallowly enjoyed. This is not a bad thing. The different types of music simply have different purposes, and thus they are appropriate and inappropriate in different contexts. You should not look for complex themes and musical brilliance in Katy Perry’s songs. Likewise, you should not casually play Beethoven CDs in your car just because you think you’re supposed to like classical music. To do so would be a grave injustice to both artists.

Some of my closest friends suffer from the delusion that the most casual indulgence in pop music will turn our souls toward depravity. However, this position fails to acknowledge that humans have any sort of intelligence or free will. Clearly, we do not all become drug abusers and fornicators simply from listening to the radio. Christians especially should be able to recognize that rampant sexual endeavors and binge drinking are bad things and thus, no matter what Ke$ha might reference in her latest single, we should be able to resist the temptation to indulge in such practices.

If nothing else, we must acknowledge that pop music has a near-universal presence: Just about everybody hears it, so on some level, nearly everyone knows it. Therefore, pop music is something that we all use to relate to each other on. Being knowledgeable about pop music, then, acknowledges the culture in which we find ourselves, providing us with common ground that is immediately useful and accessible in forging new relationships and strengthening of old ones. This can make us better friends, conversation partners and even evangelists.

Pop music thus opens us up to a world of people to which we might otherwise be oblivious, allowing us to be more relatable to our peers both at Eastern and across the nation. Understanding when and how to listen to pop music is also a supreme matter of justice. Everything has its place, and to use and abuse things wrongly is to neglect this fact and thus fail to render things their due. If listening to pop music is not something you desire to do on your own, perhaps it should become a discipline. The music is varied enough in style that you’re likely to find something you find pleasurable. Either way, the advantages of friendship and justice are too great to disregard. Let us give both people and art their proper due, but in the meantime, let us listen to pop music.

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