R-Rated: Exploring the music tastes of Rafflesians (Part 1)

Reading Time: 6 minutes

By Lim Shaomin (14S03K)
Additional reporting by Jayne Chan (14S03D)

R-Rated photo

Picture this: it has been yet another draining day in school. You’re glad to be heading home. However, there’s a niggling suspicion at the back of your mind that there is “something to do”. What follows is the tedious thought process of going through all the undone tasks piling up at a corner of your desk or crushed somewhere in your bag. It could be that dreaded tutorial you have been putting off. Or, it could be the lecture notes you have yet to review, probably because your lecturer turned what you thought to be simple English, into a pile of mumbo-jumbo. Eventually, your thoughts become too much for you to take. That’s when you finally decide to plug in and crank up the volume. Be it soothing harmonies, rocking riffs or twanging guitar strings, music never fails to draw you into a whole other world. Even a short five minutes of pure aural pleasure leaves you feeling refreshed.

So what kind of musical magic goes on in the mini speakers of our earphones? How many Rafflesians take to the likes of Mariah Carey and Beyonce, the unrefuted divas in American pop culture? How about staunch followers of rock music, who seek soul-invigoration and societal awareness through the lyrics of AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses? Or perhaps most of us fall into the ‘rojak’ category- we listen to anything and everything, as long as it appeal to us.

Raffles Press presents to you R-Rated Part 1 (stay tuned for part 2!), an analysis of survey results from the Raffles Press Music Survey. It was conducted online via a link to our survey webhost posted on the Raffles 2014 Batch Facebook page. Questions asked include ‘What are your favourite songs from your favourite genre of music?’ and ‘What are 3 songs you listen to when you’re feeling sad?’. Through the survey, we have collected a myriad of interesting and insightful answers. However, the data collected may not be conclusive and representative of the entire student body due to the limited survey responding time period and the limited J2 input.


The Popularity of Pop

Through the survey, “Pop Music” emerged as the clear winner of Rafflesian hearts. Pop music is relatively easy to identify. Aurally, it is the fun and catchy melodies you find yourself humming to most of the time, simply because they stick in your head. Visually, they are packaged to the nines, complete with slick dance moves and fashionable outfits. This makes the main draw of pop music the ability to appeal to the masses. Of course, for some, the draw of listening to pop music might just be an easy way to discover new music, since the “best” tunes have already been identified for you on radio charts and Billboard charts. According to an anonymous respondent on our survey, “Pop music is not a genre, but more like a trait. When you talk about different genres of music, it signifies a difference in the type of music. Pop music has all types of music but it all has one trait, it is widely recognised, therefore the term “popular music”.”

However, more recently, pop music has received much backlash for being overly-commercialised and having a lack of lyrical substance (e.g. “Now you get to watch her leave out the window / Guess that’s why they call it window pane” – Love the Way You Lie).

Apart from Western pop music, Korean pop music has also been slammed for repetitive, superficial lyrics. Accusations such as Korean pop bands and singers making use of their looks and not their voices to gain popularity seem to be rampant. However, one cannot deny that the influence of K-pop has spread far and wide. PSY’s Gangnam Style is the most-watched music video on YouTube with a whopping current viewership number of over 1 billion. The influence of his music shows in the thousands of Gangnam Style parodies that have emerged on YouTube. His latest single, Gentleman, is also enjoying its immediate popularity by riding on the coat tails of Gangnam Style success, racking in 44 million views in just a day of its release. The prospering of such pop music seem to bank quite heavily on the popularity and influence of the singer, rather than the quality of the song.

However, are we giving pop music too little credit? What about all the times you needed a good beat to dance to (Dancefest, anyone)? How about mass singing sessions with your friends? Not everyone can appreciate Metallica or Avenged Sevenfold. Pop songs, with their insanely catchy beats, easily memorized lyrics and wide-spread audience, will probably be the genre of music we turn to for its familiarity, thus facilitating interpersonal bonding.

“Some people find pop music a little too generic but there are actually quite a lot of good pop stars out there like Beyonce and Lady Gaga, or even Britney Spears and Madonna (circa 2008). I guess it’s not really the music but about the artistry that captures me – the shows that cost millions of dollars in its production, the stage, the costumes etc. makes it more than just “singing” but “entertaining” and “performing”. That being said, the performers are really talented as well, it isn’t all about the packaging either, it’s the combination of the talent and the production that makes the pop industry so intriguing and entertaining.” –Anonymous

Raffles Recommends: Pop

This playlist is a compilation of several pop songs mentioned when the question ‘What are your top 3 favourite songs from your favourite genre of music?’ was asked.

Rock ‘n’ Rolling Rafflesians

Rock rocks! That seems to be the opinion of many Rafflesians, as Rock comes in a close second to the most popular genre among those surveyed. Stereotypes of the Rock genre tend to include it being ‘loud and noisy’ and that it promotes rebellion. However, this is simply not the case and a good number of Rafflesians beg to differ.

According to an anonymous survey respondent, “The lyrics of old rock (and a few of modern rock) songs are really deep and well thought [out], not just some repetition of stupid words or phrases.”  This holds true for rock bands such as Linkin Park, who have won multiple accolades for their stellar songs and albums. For example, their song ‘Numb/Encore’ has won the band both a Grammy and a MTV Video Music Award.

Rock also puts across powerful messages that very often relates to the troubles many people are facing. For example, ‘The Animal I Have Become’ by Three Days Grace speaks about how the tenebrous, self-consuming side of a person is taking over. Many draw parallels from the song to drug addiction as the song accurately describes the aggressive nature and destructive effects of it. Songs like ‘Let The Flames Begin’ by Paramore seek to empower and encourage- to stay strong, even in the most dismal and darkest of times.

“I prefer rock because generally, rock musicians don’t feel a need to cater their music to the tastes of the people and that’s where music can change and be differentiated. Say for example, music isn’t going anywhere with Nicki Minaj, will.i.am, Taylor Swift etc right now, and the songs that they make are made exactly to fit what the people want. But rock musicians didn’t know/didn’t care to suit the people’s tastes, and went against the norm, making whole new sub-genres on their own that proved to be popular anyways. Such as David Bowie, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Nirvana, etc. Also rock lyrics tend to be a lot more meaningful than generic pop lyrics.”- Anonymous

Raffles Recommends: Rock

All in all, music, though intangible, plays a significant role in our lives. The music we listen to affects the way we think, feel and work- subtly shaping our attitudes and mind sets. It also connects individuals, through the shared appreciation of the messages behind certain songs. One cannot deny the incomparable, rapturous feeling of discovering a song on YouTube that perfectly complements your emotions and situation, or the unadulterated joy one derived from passionately belting out heartfelt songs in the shower. Even singing the Institution Anthem as a school has the ability to fill our hearts with a sense of camaraderie and pride for our school (hopefully). Personally, the experience of singing- or rather shouting with much passion- during the bus ride to class camp (sorry, bus uncle!) is a dear memory as one simply cannot forget the hysterical laughter and sense of community that came out of singing (out of tune) together as a class. There are so many different ways that music can influence and impact our lives, enriching our minds and invigorating the soul- it is little wonder that music is so much appreciated among us Rafflesians and everyone else alike.

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent”

Victor Hugo

30670cookie-checkR-Rated: Exploring the music tastes of Rafflesians (Part 1)


One thought on “R-Rated: Exploring the music tastes of Rafflesians (Part 1)”

Leave a Reply