Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cross-Over Music

Having only recently become in charge of the CD section at work, I've become aware that there are only so many categories under which we file CDs. Pop, rock, rap, world, country, folk, jazz, blues, vocal, orchestral, musical, opera, and "new" are the only labels available. I will readily admit that I am relieved that I am not the one responsible for deciding which CDs go under which category -that's the librarian's job. But I have to wonder... how con one possibly make such decisions. Music seems to constantly be in a state of change, and ever-evolving, blurry transition state. And because of this, there appears to be a spectrum lying under all these arbitrary labels. I mean, Elvis is not the same rock that AC DC is. So, the question I have is, where does one label start and another end?

I began to ponder this question when I checked out Bon Jovi's Lost Highway. It was filed under "Rock," and I initially thought rightly so. Bon Jovi = rock music. "You Give Love A Bad Name" is definitely rock music. But, as I put the CD in and started to listen, I thought, "this doesn't sound like rock... it sounds like... country?" Yes, what I heard coming from the speakers registered on my radar as country music. Granted, it wasn't Johnny Cash or Randy Travis, but more like the "country-rock" that's so common today. My initial reaction was disappointment, I'll concede (I am not a fan of rock-country anyway, ans was expecting to hear something... well,, more like rock), but it really got me thinking about how, after awhile, as musicians start branching out, trying new things and sampling from different genres, they may just "cross over" into another.

Now, I'm not going to debate who crossed into who's territory here (which would be an interesting debate, I'm sure) but I will question the validity of the labels placed upon music nowadays. What constitutes "rock, or "punk rock," or "hard rock," or "soft rock?" What criteria distinguish country, from rock, from jazz and to what extent must these criteria be met? Very subjective stuff here, I think. And as I mentioned above, I'm just glad I'm not the one who puts the labels on the cases.

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