According to the New York Times, song lyrics of our generation are becoming increasingly narcissistic. It is all about the self– the words “I” and “me” are more prevalent, focusing on the ego of a person. As Ke$ha sings on her popular single ‘Tik Tok’: “Now the party don’t start till I walk in,” or as Keri Hilson sings on ‘Pretty Girl Rock:’ “Don’t hate me cause I’m beautiful.” Take almost any pop song nowadays and try to find someone not singing about themself.

There’s nothing wrong with being a little self-confident and vain. Everyone likes to feel good about themselves. It’s ok to gloat and boast every now and then; it’s an ego and confidence booster. As Americans, we tend to have big egos, so it’s no surprise that the music of our time would reflect this. And if we can’t love ourselves first, how can we get others to love us?

Songwriting is similar to storytelling. Using the first person point of view in a story puts the reader in the place of the narrator. ‘I’ and ‘me’ are more personal words and therefore more relatable. Take that idea and put it in songwriting, and it makes sense that people would sing along. Sure, lyrics are relatable when artists sing about significant others or friends or family, but songs are much more likeable when we can sing along and believe the song is about ourselves.

The problem, however, lies in the messages of these songs. The article states that narcissism has increased significantly in the last three decades, and that the narcissism in music is linked to negative feelings of anger and relationship problems. This trend shows that music is moving away from communal feelings of love and more towards self-centered songs.

What exactly does this mean? People today are upset with their relationships and life. They feel unloved, upset and turn away from other people. These negative feelings are turned into songs about heartbreak or into songs about how ‘I’m too good for so-and-so.’ A good example: “I Look So Good (Without You)” by Jesse James. The music industry today is targeting single people who don’t care about relationships, or who are upset and heartbroken about their unsuccessful love life.

Basically, today’s music is giving one big middle finger to the values of relationship and community. ‘Why bother with other people? Clearly we only like ourselves’ is the vibe of the mainstream music today. Sure there’s the occasional exception such as Bruno Mars’ single “Marry You,” or Katy Perry’s popular song “Teenage Dream.” Yet the majority of music today is about celebrating the self, focusing on the self and no one else.

Whatever happened to a sense of community? Whatever happened to loving each other? People need other people as friends, as a support system, as guidance. If today’s music is any indication, the narcissism we suffer from will cause difficulties for future relationships, especially if we let our egos get in the way.

 

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