Music can be a very powerful force. It evokes a wide range of emotional responses that captures the true essence of what it means to be alive. While a majority of the time music is used as a main source of entertainment, it is also leveraged as a source of inspiration and motivation.
Now before I get into this, we first need to of course understand the history and science of music. On a science standpoint, music is comprised of rhythmic patterns and sounds that affect our level of physical excitability. A simple increase in the pace of a song can, for example, quicken our pulse and accelerate our breathing. This in turn elicits a specific emotional response and alters our mood, mindset, and perception at any given time. While as much as we can give credit to the psychological studies of neuroscience on music, we also have to comprehend the cultural and societal influencers that impact our emotions when we listen to a favorite song.
When we are upset or dismayed because of a song, it is not solely due to a change of the rhythm. Instead, it is the cultural and societal relevance that the song’s theme plays to that overwhelms its listeners during that moment. This type of feeling is of course subjective to the person. But as bias as it can be, much our emotional reactions can be attributed to our history and the social influences of current day news and politics.
Let’s look back at the Super Bowl and Beyoncé’s performance. For some viewers and fans, they felt that her message was too strong and unsettling. Others, however, felt that she was highlighting a stance for equality and justice. Whatever her intentions, the public’s emotional perspective was immediately sparked by what they know and what they have seen through the tragic injustice events of 2015. Songs like these, as difficult as it may to watch and listen to for some people, play an imperative role in representing how society feels about the on-goings in today’s society. It plays and touches our societal values and conjectures, which in turn, forces us to ‘feel’ a specific way because of this song.
In reality, Beyoncé was not the first one to spark this type of response to the public. We have seen this with famous artist such as the N.W.A rap group, Eminem, Andre Serrano, Macklemore, and now the ever-popular Kendrick Lamar. While their music may be seen as controversial, they do inspire a sense of hope and justice for their causes. That is the true power of music. It is an entity that provides us with a voice that allows us to be academically inclined, critically conscious, and forces of change within our communities. Once that change is ignited, it in itself becomes an unstoppable force in moving our society for the better.