Not Just Another Dumb Blonde: Current chart toppers won't leave same legacy as previous musicians

Gail Koch is a junior journalism major and writes "Not Just Another Dumb Blonde" for the Daily News. Her views do not necessarily represent those of the newspaper.

As I was driving home from work Wednesday evening, listening to the unmistakable vocals of Steven Tyler as he told me to "Walk This Way," I was struck by the amazing talent and huge success of classic bands such as Aerosmith.

For a group of musicians that hit the charts in the '70s, Aerosmith continues to leave a mark on generations of listeners with hits that remain popular today: "Sweet Emotion," "Dude Looks Like a Lady," "Cryin'," "Amazing," and "Pink."

I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

The fact is, Aerosmith, and bands such as The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, were as influential to a generation of adolescents growing up with afros, bell bottoms and disco as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Bob Dylan were to young men and women crying "peace" in the '60s.

Even the '80s had its fair share of artists who left their mark on a decade that was best defined by bad hair and bad music: R.E.M., U2, John Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen.

When I was a child, I used to ask my mom about the music she loved to listen to when she was young.

Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, The Beatles -- I was fascinated to talk with her about growing up during a time when rock 'n' roll was new and Elvis's gyrating pelvis made headlines across the nation.

I wonder someday what I will have to say to my children when they ask me what music was popular when I was in school.

Even if you take away the horrible early '90s artists (Milli Vanilli, (Gerardo) Rico Suave, MC Hammer and Ace of Base) of my childhood days, there remain few musicians that I want to tell my son or daughter I loved while in high school or college.

"Hey mom, so who was your favorite musician when you were in school?"

"Well kiddo, it was a hard pick between Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, N'SYNC and the Backstreet Boys."

I shudder at the thought of such a conversation.

My point is, we live in a generation defined by pop tarts who waste air every time they open their mouths to sing "Oops I Did It Again," or "I'm a Genie In a Bottle." Whatever happened to a time when artists sang because they had something to say and not because they needed to exploit themselves, endorse a product or earn the "bling bling?"

What would it have been like to listen to artists of an era that protested events like the Vietnam War and sang because they hoped their lyrics would make an impact on listeners across America?

When Creedence Clearwater Revival sang "Fortunate Son" to a nation disgusted with men dodging the draft, the words served a purpose for a generation seeking solace in its music.

"Some folks are born made to wave the flag/Ooh, they're red, white and blue/And when the band plays "Hail to the chief"/Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord/It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no senator's son, son."

Amen, CCR.

And what songs do today's materialistic young adults have to find meaning in?

Maybe it's choruses like, "My loneliness is killing me/I must confess I still believe/When I'm not with you I lose my mind/Give me a sign/Hit me baby one more time," or "Give me just one night/una noche."

But what the hell do those lyrics mean and what is the message kids get from them?

The answer is nothing more than dribble that gets stuck in your head until you want to bang it on the wall.

I know there will be some disgruntled readers who argue that my generation has seen a number of great artists (say, Nirvana for example), but how embarrassing, that someday I will have to tell my kids that music from groups with names like O-Town and 98 Degrees were the most popular songs on the Billboard charts.

For now, I'll hold on to my CD collection with its treasured contents of musicians like Bob Dylan, CCR, Aerosmith, The Beatles and U2.

Because when the time comes for my child to ask such a question, I want them to listen to a musical legacy I know can be proud of.

Write to Gail at glkoch@bsu.edu


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