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The State of Music

March 1, 2024

It’s 2024, Noah Khan has cemented the folk music comeback, Dua Lipa is single-handedly carrying the pop genre on her back, and TikTok has created a music time machine. Olivia Roderigo’s rise to fame opened the door for the pop-rock sub-genre in Indie music that we all needed and Mckenna Grace came out of nowhere to take hold of that sub-genre with her fantastic debut album Bittersweet 16. All of this and more is contributing to the state of music today.

The mid-2000s and early 2010s were dominated by indie folk music, greats such as Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, The Avett Brothers, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros rose to fame and created a large and dedicated Indie Folk fan base. To the disappointment of many this genre disappeared from relevance. Others attempted to bring back the indie folk genre but no did so quite like our favorite sad boi, Noah Kahan. Kahan released his debut album Busyhead in 2019 and his single “False Confidence” saw a lot of popularity but none of his albums gained the traction or popularity that Stick Season received. Some might argue that Kahan is standing on the shoulders of giants and not doing anything new. I believe he has a distinct style that mixes superior songwriting with inventive musicianship. He might not be doing anything new, but he is changing the game. At this point, the sky is the limit for Noah Kahan, and I am excited to see where he goes.

When you think of pop music, obviously the king and queen of pop come to mind. (that is Michael Jackson and Madonna if you didn’t know) Some would even throw in the names of Britney Spears and Lady Gaga, which I will allow. Dua Lipa is making a strong argument for her name to be considered among the greats right now. Her first album was self-titled and released in 2018. It was popular but did not move the needle to be considered anything great. She even faced criticism of her performances, saying her vocals were not strong and her dancing was bad. So, to prove her haters wrong she released Future Nostalgia, the greatest pop album of all the 2000s so far. (fight me) The album is perfect, and I am excited to see what Dua Lipa has in store next since her new single just dropped on February 15th.

TikTok is popular (obviously) but it is also a music time machine unlike anything I have seen before. For proof, here are the top five most popular songs on TikTok today and when they were released, according to the TikTok Billboard Top 50. Number one: What You Won’t Do for Love by Bobby Caldwell, released in 1978. Number two: Dance You Otta My Head by Cat Janice, released in 2024. Number three: Yeah! By Usher, released in 2004. Number four: ONE CALL by Rich Amiri released in 2023. Number five: I Wouldn’t’ Mind by He is We, released in 2017. TikTok takes songs from all different genres and all different generations and brings them back into relevance. Even if it is short-lived. This is a special aspect of TikTok you can mention the next time your aunt yells at you for being on TikTok because it is ruining your generation.

I would be remiss to talk about music today and not mention Olivia Rodrigo. Olivia stormed onto the music scene with her hit single, Drivers License, in early 2022. Now, Avid Olivia followers would argue that she was famous in music before this with her Disney music career but none of her Disney songs got over 2 billion streams so let’s agree to disagree. Now we could say a lot about Olivia Rodrigo but I am interested in the door her success opened for Mckenna Grace. You would most likely recognize Mckenna Grace from her childhood acting career but in March of 2023 she released her debut album, Bittersweet 16, and it is good. This pop-rock album perfectly encapsulates the angst of being a teenager and I am all for feeling angsty again. Grace uses her songwriting to perfectly craft stories of teenage heartbreak but also the complexities of coming to your identity. While Olivia Rodrigo is firmly at the top of this genre, Mckenna Grace is an underrated driving force in pop-rock, and you need to check her out.

 People gravitate to certain artists or genres. Music is beautiful because it encapsulates so much culture and emotion. That is the fun of exploring different genres, you get to experience so much life in three to four minutes. Lots of artists in all different genres have music that features genuine authenticity but as Christians, we should have no reason to hide our burdens or struggles but use them to help those who are hurting. I see this in Chris Renzema’s music and lucky for us, he is going to be releasing a new album in the coming weeks. Not only does he have an authenticity to his music but he pairs that with his fantastic songwriting. The music is good for an average person listening and for a musician listening. You can get the full experience of his music when he comes to campus on April 5th. Visit the Student Activities website to get your tickets. The state of music is always changing but this is a little taste of what it looks like today.


Written by Jordan Kreitzinger

Jordan is the Assistant Director of Student Activities.