Music has an incredible way of shaping us, our very thoughts and feelings, our reactions to the world and it helps us find our way. Growing up surrounded by music is one of life’s greatest joys, you get to assign songs to memories and listen to something that immediately takes you back to a moment or an age or a feeling.
I was born in 1998, so I grew up in the tail end of the nineties, and my childhood and adolescence rang in the 2000’s in all of their glory. While I didn’t directly feel the wrath of dressing like Britney Spears for dress up occasions, or experiencing firsthand Kim Kardashian being Paris Hilton’s assistant, this did mean I grew up with some truly inspiring music. And I’m not being sarcastic.
Growing up I had NSYNC, and the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and The Pussycat Dolls, Justin Timberlake, Blu Cantrell, Destiny’s Child, Missy Elliot, and so many other fantastic artists and bands that released utter bops. I didn’t realise it then, but I was growing up and being shaped in my way of thinking, partly through the music I heard.
Would I be as content being single as I am, if I hadn’t heard “I Don’t Need A Man” by the Pussycat Dolls? Would I know not to let a man disrespect me or cheat on me if I hadn’t heard “Hit Em Up Style” by Blu Cantrell? Would I feel as empowered as I do when I see women thriving if I hadn’t heard “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child? If I hadn’t heard “No Scrubs” by TLC, or “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera, would I know the importance of not relying on men and being my own woman? Would I know how much worth women have? (Probably yes because I grew up with great parents and around great people, but the fact remains.) Would I have an undying love for RnB and Pop music if I hadn’t experienced all these musicians?
Music has always been such a beautiful part of the world, an almost untouched sanctuary for people to escape to, an ever ready and ever present force in so many lives; and I feel incredibly grateful that I grew up with the music I grew up with. That I share this music with all people my age, that I can put on a Destiny’s Child song, or a Justin Timberlake song or a Britney Spears song, or a Will Smith song, or any artist that was present in the 90’s and 2000’s, and I know my friends will know most of the words, and at the very least they’ll belt out the chorus.
People have a big misconception that pop music can’t be important, that the music of the 2000’s weren’t as important or as good as the music that preceded it, and I can understand where they’re coming from, but I can’t agree. Just because songs are autotuned or are made on a computer or a machine rather than an instrument, doesn’t mean they’re of any less value. It doesn’t mean they don’t still hold the power to shape or influence someone.
These songs are empowering, and forceful, in a subtle way that I think really has a way of shaping people.The lyrics of these pop anthems of a generation are still embedded in our heads, and is that because they’re fun and catchy? Yes, but also because many of the songs have a deeper meaning, an undercurrent of sometimes self-acceptance, sometimes they’re sending important messages, that we should all recognise and embed in our own lives.
So no matter what generation you belong to, no matter what music you grew up listening to, put it on and feel empowered, or feel happy, or feel nostalgic, or just sit and feel it all around you. Because we should all be glad that we grew up with the music we did.
*Also I didn’t just listen to RnB or pop, I experienced Indie and Indie Rock music that I still love to this day, like The Strokes and The Killers and Arctic Monkeys, and they all shaped me too, but the messages of the songs I spoke about feel more important.