Popular music is cheesy. That’s my hypothesis. My alternative hypothesis would be it is not. A quick listen to the currently popular music will tell us that this hypothesis cannot be rejected. Popular music, indeed thrives on elements of cheesiness.
A line like “I wouldn’t change a thing” figured in Rod Stewart’s 1970 album long before we were born. It still figures in the Bruno Mars’ , the Best Male Vocal Pop Performance winner’s ‘Just the way you are’. ‘It’s a different melody but the same old song’ as Bryan Adams sings in ‘Room Service’. Likewise, ‘I want your love’ might sound ‘new’ to our ears when Lady Gaga sings it but many other singers/lyricists before her have ‘wanted your love’ too. It is a different issue that Lady Gaga also wants ‘your drama’ plus something called ‘leather studded kiss in the sand’ too. Nonetheless she reigns if record breaking sales, egg shells and Grammies are anything to go by.
And it is popular Western music that the majority of Nepali people have access to. It is what ‘Radio Rastrako’ and ‘Hits you where it matters’ played since they started back in the late 1990s and still do. They might have a few slots for ‘Sweet Soul Music’ , and ‘Rhodeo times’ but that’s from a station which mostly caters to the English speaking urban Nepali audience.
A bunch of people who have lived and studied abroad and seen/done better things should keep their sentiments limited to their privileged class. Let the rest enjoy in peace for once. Let them sing along with man in their own city. The city where they were born, raised and walked humming/ listening/ playing his songs. And never thought once in their wildest dreams that the singer would someday grace their Rangashala with his performance.
The music we get to hear mostly doesn’t go beyond the songs figuring in US/UK Charts, Billboards and those that end up winning Grammies. Music beyond that is not easily accessible. My own collection, if has gone beyond that is because I had friends who either lived outside Nepal for long or are not Nepalis. The little bit of French, African, Irish and English (not American) and one Greek song in my collection is an outcome of knowing them. I believe, I have a decent reason to argue this way. I have lived in Nepal all my life (apart from these few months in Delhi) and been an avid listener of radio programs that play ‘Western Music’ for most part of my life.
No wonder the very first music folder that I copied to my desktop were songs from MLTR, Bryan Adams, Def Leppard, Phil Collins, Boyzone, Backstreet Boys, Wham, George Michael, The Eagles, Scorpions, Lobo, Mariah Carey, Tony Braxton, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Ronan Keating, etc. A friend of my sister’s lend her a CD containing songs of these artists and that’s how I had my first music collection. I wasn’t born when most of these artists were in their heydays or was too small to make sense of their hits. It was in school a when ‘I want it that way’ (Backstreet Boys) was released and I was crazy about A.J (his stylish beard especially). Boys my age must have similar memories about Britney’s ‘Baby One More Time’. We were recent teenagers or on our way to being one and music brought along a different sense of freedom. Songs like ‘It’s my life’ (Bon Jovi) released when I was 14/15 did the trick.