Originally Posted by The Listener
I think there's meaning in everything, just of a different kind.
So what kind of music do you feel as meaningful and intellectually engaging?
Originally Posted by The Listener
Yes, there is much "meaning" in Michael Jackson's work. Great singer and dancer. Sometimes craft can be so high, that it can compensate for the intellectual "meaning".
I would also opt for Katy Perry, that she can sing really well or at least - interpret really great. There are a lot of vocal timbres and nuances on that last album of hers, maybe the credit goes to producers and vocal coaches or vocal producers, but she was able to pull it off none the less and the technology for voice manipulation was used creatively, not just for "fixing problems".
I think they put a whole lot of work on detail into those vocal lines on "Teenage Dream". And I know really good singers (jazz educated) that I don't think could pull it off that well. She has charm in her voice. Madonna has it too in a different way.
There is meaning in everything human-made, including chairs and transactions, but not meaningfulness, which is the wish and ability to convey a personally important message, and which is quite different.
The intellectual level of the message matters, in terms of value, just like in any other art form using language; a sublime poem with deep, powerful thoughts about human existence (E.G. Ozymandias by Shelley) is surely more meaningful than "Teenage Dream". This doesn't mean that the latter is bad in any way, just that it holds less value, like a Dan Brown best-seller compared to the Umberto Eco works it rips off; there is room for both, although I know which one I'd take.
I don't think craft can ever replace meaning however, in any art form; otherwise we would all be listening to Yamaha school competition winners and instrument solos instead of songs. In this day and age where essentially untrained (which does not make them untalented) musicians make most popular music, performance talent is seen as a massive gift to mankind; a hundred years ago that level of talent would have been barely enough to get a good tutor, who would then develop your skills as a high-end performer.
I don't think this is needed at all anymore and I am very happy to be living in this day and age, but we need to stop being so easily impressed by above-average musicianship and focus on the songs themselves. If there is nothing to transmit the talent makes the experience pleasant, even thrilling, but squarely at the level of entertainment and not of art. Which, again, isn't a bad thing, unless one is mistaken for the other.
I will say it one last time, I don't think making music to sell to people who want to have fun is a bad thing.
I know this is flame war material so I'll stop now. Howeversince you asked politely I will (at the risk of turning this into a "my music is better than yours" war) note the music I hold to be meaningful to me, music that has been created in order to transmit meaning instead of just being liked by the most amount of people.
I like a lot of late 19th century classical music, from Wagner to Strauss, but Stravinsky and Shostakovich are my favourites. As far as rock music I like 60s/70s rock like late Beatles, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and Peter Gabriel, going through bands like The Cure, to The Smashing Pumpkins, Tool and Rage Against The Machine, all the way into newer stuff like Sigur Ros, Amplifier, The Mars Volta and Porcupine Tree. I am not saying they are objectively better, but their music is created to convey meaning and not just to sell.
By the way, I think that both Katy Perry and Lady Gaga (and their spiritual predecessors Britney and Christina) are great at what they do and great performers and entertainers. Again, not a bad thing. Again, not art.