what’s good about music today… part three: carrying the torch

Tina Turner. James Brown. Prince. Elvis Presley. Bob Marley. Stevie Wonder.

Every time a notable talent makes an imprint on the music world, he or she leaves a chorus of devotees in the wake of genius, all loudly “bemoaning” (bragging) that there will never be another talent as prodigious or profound.


I am firmly convinced that music critics and music fans are overly critical of contemporary music. The stars of todays are the legends of tomorrow. Only a severe lack of perspective would allow anyone to believe that because the icons above will never be duplicated, that their level of artistic achievement will also never be duplicated.

The list below is very, very incomplete and quite skewed toward my musical tastes. But I hope it’s enough to make the case that today’s pop music is sufficiently well-stocked with talented, original, legend-worthy musicians and performers.

Ne-Yo. This dude is the musical heir of Smokey Robinson and Babyface, with a supple voice and a songwriting flair that will only be better appreciated as time passes.

Adele. I don’t count myself as a rabid fan, and I appreciate the contention from some quarters that she is overrated. Minus the hype, though, she is still a vocal force to be reckoned with, with a stately, soulful wail that will stand the test of time.

Christina AguileraYes, she oversings sometimes. And she veers into tacky territory at times with her style and presentation. But the monolith that is her voice is impossible to ignore.

Foo Fighters. These guys have been going strong for two decades, with a dedicated, deceptively straightforward alt-rock orientation that will be well-remembered by rock historians. As iconic as Kurt Cobain is, his once-lesser-known bandmate Dave Grohl may end up having a bigger influence.

And there are tons of other artists out there right now who have the potential to be legends and icons, and some who are already on their way: Miguel, Lil’ Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Fantasia, Justin Timberlake, and Jennifer Hudson.

And there are still others who are still a bit green and unproven, but have the X factor and a lot of potential: Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, and Macklemore, just to skim the current Hot 100 roster.

I now rest my case. I shouldn’t have to defend a positive music criticism orientation; it should be the default for any music lover. In the face of the many naysayers and critics, however, this is what I have to say to anyone who gripes about how jacked up music is today.

Now let’s listen to some music.

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