How Do You Really Label/Categorize Music?


Often in music, people are quick to categorize or place a certain sound in one genre. However, I think that much of the so-called genres of music actually correlate with each other in some way or another. For an example, Rock music originates from Blues and some may say that early 20th century artists like Cab Calloway or Bo Diddley helped pave the way for ‘’rapping’’ on a beat. The term ‘’pop music’’ and ‘’alternative’’ music are very broad in meaning. Nirvana, who were called a ‘’grunge band’’,  still created ‘’popular music’’. However, some people would not label Nirvana in the same genre as Madonna or Backstreet Boys…but weren’t they all ‘’pop music artists’’? Pop music simply means ‘’popular mainstream music’’. Some people even categorize music based on race, which is rather ignorant in my opinion. There is no such thing as ‘’white music’’ or ‘’black music’’ because music has no specific color. Music is colorful and just because I am a certain ethnicity does not mean I can only relate to a specific kind of musical style. In my mind, there is only two kinds of music. Music that is good…and music that is not. This, however, is all a matter of opinion because I could enjoy something that someone else does not. I just hope people will try to go beyond simply placing an artist or their music in one category. For instance, Blondie’s singer Debbie Harry honestly might have been one of the very first female artist to make a rap song. Why isn’t she accepted as one of the very first mainstream successful female rappers? Another example is the band Rage against the Machine. The lead singer obviously is a rapper. Yet, they are not simply called an ‘’hip-hop band’’. Rage against the Machine are known as ‘’alternative-rap’’. If musical styles correlate with each other, than one cannot simply be placed in one genre. It is challenging to place artists in one genre if they are creating a variety of musical forms within their songs. If you look up the different rapping styles on Wikipedia, you will see that there are tons of different rapping subcategories. ‘’Nerd core rap…Horror-core rap…’’. Perhaps I am thinking way too much in this and people simply place music into lots of categories so they can organize them. However, I think at the end of the day it is best to remember that music’s definition is way more than the genres it is placed in. Music is described by the portrait it is painting, the lyrics it is forming, and the artists who are creating this beautiful art form.


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