Amidst a sea of tweets about alternative R&B singer Frank Ocean’s album “blond” reintroducing itself into the Billboard Top 200 (currently holding spot 167), famous rapper Future announcing his upcoming album, and pop star Ariana Grande starting off 2019 with her latest single “7 Rings,” the scene for music is clearly more diverse than ever.
Nowadays, artists can be found attempting to stretch music to its limits and blur the clear-cut lines between genres, like the boy band Brockhampton does – their songs “1999 Wildfire,” “Rental,” and “Bleach” being very well-received. Yet, while many people enjoy artists’ experimentation, various others are die-hard fans of the oldies, such as The Rolling Stones or The Beatles, which can often serve as inspiration for new songs. At Kingswood Oxford, there is also a wide variety of taste in the types of music that complements the nation’s trends. Unsurprisingly, most tended to lean towards listening to well-known rap and pop songs, such as “Taste” by Tyga or “Be Alright” by Dean Lewis.
Taylor Swift continues to be a mainstay in people’s playlists, with junior Remy McCoy saying she really likes “Picture to Burn.” Many others are ready for Rihanna’s new album to come out, which is gathering excitement from all over the nation, actually. Ariana Grande still holds the number 3 spot on the Billboard Top 100 for her smash hit “thank u, next” and can be heard loudly belting through headphones all around campus.
Popular rap and hip hop songs that students said got them hyped up were “bleed it” by Blueface, “looking for me” by SG Tip, “Real Ties” by Lil Skies, and “Mo Bamba” by Sheck Wes; the artists they said they liked were Post Malone, Drake, Trippie Redd, Travis Scott, Cardi B, and Juice WRLD. Junior Niko Rodriguez said right now he likes the song “Thotiana,” which is another hit by Blueface. The albums “Glockoma” by Key Glock, “i am > i was” by 21 Savage, and “Hoodie SZN” by A Boogie wit da Hoodie were recently released and highly praised; “Graduation” by Kanye and “Recovery” by Eminem, although older works, still continue to be favorites.
Rhythm & Blues, including alternate R&B, is quite popular at KO, as well: sophomore Snehaa Ram said she really enjoyed most songs by Blackbear, specifically the song “idfc,” while junior Ishaa Sohail said she loves all of Frank Ocean’s work. She said her favorites had to be “Bad Religion,” “Nature Feels,” “Solo,” “Self Control,” and “Novacane.” Khalid is another highly appreciated singer, with his single “Better” currently topping Billboard’s Hot R&B Songs; the controversial late rapper/R&B singer XXXTENTACION also has two songs on that list, “Arms Around You” with Lil Pump, Maluma, and Swae Lee at number 4 and “whoa (mind in awe)” at number 7.
Some teachers also weighed in on the kind of music they liked. Librarian Nancy Solomon said she likes music that is both good in its melody and significant in its lyrics, which she said comes together perfectly in her favorite song “American Pie” by Don McLean. It is a social commentary on how Don McLean believes music died the day. She said she listens to oldies like those when she is with her husband, but also likes more current music when on her own. “I like the oldies, but I also like new music,” she said. “I really like Bruno Mars and I’d say he’d be my favorite musician because I always enjoy all of his music.” Mrs. Solomon went on to say that while she is not completely opposed to rap, she refuses to listen to the kind that degrades women. “Some rap is absolutely fine, but if it’s against women and insulting, then I do not like it and do not listen to it,” she said.
Creative Arts Director Todd Millen said he listens to a wide range of music, but tends to fall back on classical music and bluegrass, which he said is “like hick country music.” He said one of the groups he enjoys listening to most is called Nickel Creek, which blends elements from folk and bluegrass. “I like almost everything they do, like with ‘The Lighthouse’s Tale’ and ‘This Side,’” he explained. “The music Nickel Creek creates has a lot of guitar, mandolin, and violin; usually there should be banjos, too, but they don’t really use them.”
A few students also veered away from the pop and rap genres, instead focusing their tastes on Broadway hits and classical operas; while others preferred alternative or indie music. Junior Maggie Eberle said she actually enjoyed both, citing the soundtrack for “Anastasia” and Hozier’s latest EP, “Nina Cried Power,” as well as her excitement for their upcoming album, set to be released in 2019. The entire soundtrack for the musical Hamilton is still loved and listened to by many. Ishaa said she liked the song “Junk of the Heart” by The Kooks, a pop/alternative/indie British band. “I really like it because it’s a cute and happy song, and it always manages to put me in a good mood,” she said.
Mr. Millen said he noticed people at KO generally like rap, hip hop, and classic rock, but said there is a fanbase for each of the other genres. As for what he really thinks about music nowadays, Mr. Millen said he’s heard a lot of homogeneity in music now because many songs are based off the same one or two chords and thus artists have a narrow range to work with. “A lot of it sounds identical, but I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few years this generation [Gen Z] thought that any music created then would be worse than from 2018, for example.” Mr. Millen explained that he finds it funny how most people tend to think the music of their childhood was the best, and all music created after that went downhill. “It’s usually because the music reminds them of their great childhood, so nothing will ever really live up to that.” While a lot of people at KO tended to be specific in their music tastes, some like junior Hannah Shames simply said they are mostly indifferent and enjoy listening to whatever is playing on Kiss 95.7. “I don’t really prefer one song over another, so I just turn on Pandora or the radio and listen to whatever is on there,” she said.
If you want another place to listen to whatever is on, are looking for inspiration, or just want to expand your music tastes, head over to the KO News website, https://thekonews.org/, to find a playlist with all the works and artists mentioned here as well as a mix of throwbacks and new releases. Also, stay tuned for the next two renditions of this article: one in May, in which I’ll delve into the music trends between each form, and one in December, where I will round up all the hits of 2019 and contrast them with those of 2018.