Writing exercise

The following paragraphs, taken from the middle of a formal
persuasive essay, present and develop the claim that today’s musical artists don’t have
ambition or creativity.

Read the selection and write a discussion board post of at least 200 words that identifies and evaluates the patterns
of developmen
t this author used to make his or her point.
Make sure to answer the following questions:

What types of
development are used, and where? (More than one pattern is used in this

Which are the
most effective?

Which are least
effective, and why?

Though the history of American music is full of innovation,
current artists don’t seem to have the same ambition or creativity. American
pop artists haven’t offered listeners any truly new music styles in
decades. Right now singers such as Jay-Z and Lil Wayne are carrying on the
traditions of rap, not only with their music but with “looks” that feature
the ballcaps and bling made “kool” a generation ago.
Promotional photos of Sugarland and Tim McGraw show them sporting the
pointy-toed boots, Wranglers and oversized belt buckles of past
country stars; similarly, listeners have no trouble identifying the look or the
music of a “cross-over artist” such as Taylor Swift. As
Glen Gamboa writes in an article for Newsday, Swift’s music is
on the country and pop charts, and she collaborates with artists from many
genres (34). What that versatility shows, however, is only Swift’s ability to
move from one conventional musical style to another. When she goes country,
both are sweet as a Georgia peach. When she sings pop songs, listeners are
immediately reminded of sugary pseudo-punk singers from two decades ago. Her
“Fearless” album isn’t on top because of its originality, as
Jim Malecwrites in his review, but because it’s unoriginal and the top
single is “cliché” (Malec). A historical comparison of Billboard
magazine’s charts also notes this lack of innovation, since the magazine has
been shuffling today’s talent into the same old top categories of R&B,
rap, rock, and country for 30 years. Reports on what was charting in 1979 show
the same top categories. Sure, today’s charts have added categories such as top
digital albums, and best-selling ringtones (“Billboard charts”).
These categories, however, distinguish new kinds of music delivery, rather than
new musical styles.

Perhaps the most telling example of what’s lacking in today’s
music is the rise of Michael Jackson’s “This is It,” which became the number
one R&B album in the country posthumously (“Billboard charts”). A musician
who rose to fame in the late 1970s, Jackson hadn’t released new music
in almost 10 years, Rolling Stone records, until the posthumous release of
“This is It” in October of 2009 (“Discography”). In fact, news reports after
the release revealed that the album’s title track was actually written back in
1983, in collaboration with a previous generation’s popstar,
Paul Anka (“Paul Anka Strikes Deal”). Yet, when Jackson
died in June 2009, the reaction to his music proved that the
industry hadn’t moved past him. He even had the same market
demographic, as 10-year-old Joshua Thompson demonstrated in his reaction to all
the media coverage of Jackson’s death. A typical tween, Thompson listened to
many types of current music and watches current videos. From the first news
report of Jackson’s death, however, he took every opportunity to watch the TV
specials that featured Jackson’s early music and videos. He begged to stay up
later than usual on several occasions, because he didn’t want to miss
a re-showing of the “Thriller” video. Evidently, he wasn’t the
only one who reacted that way. According to an article in Entertainment Weekly,
Billboard recently changed its rules to count sales of albums more than 18
months old, because some of Jackson’s earlier albums were outselling current
work (Vosick-Levinson). That Jackson’s songs would be relevant to a
10-year-old, and current music-buyers, highlights the fact that today’s
musicians haven’t found new styles and subject matter to replace what their
elders were singing about 20-30 years ago.

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