Unpopular Opinions: Musicians

Kanye West is a widely liked and listened to musician, but some NYU students disagree.

Kanye West is a widely liked and listened to musician, but some NYU students disagree.

A new album has just been released by a popular, raved-over musician. All of your friends pounce on it and immediately hail it a masterpiece, and you find yourself agreeing with them, swept up in the hype. But secretly, you don’t like the album, or the artist who made it, at all. You shudder at the thought of speaking your mind for fear of being shut out by your friends and being forever branded with that scarlet “A.” Instead, you scour the internet in search of those like you who move against the current of the status quo. Suddenly, you’re filled with the brash confidence to straighten your back, rise and shout from your loftiness, “I disagree!” This is Unpopular Opinions: Musicians edition.

Kanye West
Daniella Nichinson, Arts Editor

I’m about to make a bold and polarizing statement, possibly endangering my life: I hate Kanye West. It could be his “I’m the greatest” attitude that prevents me from liking him, but I never found that his music had the meaning or depth that good music is supposed to have. Maybe comparing Kanye to someone like Bob Dylan is setting the bar too high, but I feel absolutely nothing when I listen to his lyrics. It’s perfect timing that he just released “I Love It” with Lil Pump, which is hilariously awful and showcases his lack of lyrical talent. David Crosby really summed it up when he said “[he] can neither sing, nor write, nor play.” And just in case I haven’t outraged hypebeasts enough, Yeezys aren’t worth the money.

Post Malone
Ali Zimmerman, Deputy Arts Editor

Now, I’m not going to totally hate on Post (I’ll happily jam out to “Candy Paint” or “White Iverson” any time), but as a whole, he’s old news. I admittedly had one foot on the bandwagon when his album “Stoney” came out in 2016. I found his tasteful trap beats and dreamy R&B melodies a refreshing diversion from some of the heavier hip-hop stuff crowding the charts. But when “Beerbongs & Bentleys” came out this spring, my Post Malone fandom quickly ended. His sound, while distinctive, had evolved little from his debut album, and I found the beats cliche and repetitive. The songs all started to sound the same after a while. I also found it hard to relate to “Beerbongs & Bentleys,” an album where Post offers little more lyrically than a tennis match between whining and bragging about his life. He’s rich, he parties all the time, but he still begs sympathy from listeners about some inner turmoil that I find hard to give. But while I think Post’s biggest musical pitfall at this point is his lack of depth and universality, I also wouldn’t hate to see him lose the facial hair. Just saying.

Post-”Uptown Funk” Bruno Mars
Nicole Rosenthal, Music Editor

Everything Bruno Mars has done since “Uptown Funk” is purely unlistenable.

That’s not to say that he doesn’t have a stellar voice and a commanding stage presence; anyone with a pair of eyes and ears can understand that he does. Yet since releasing his magnum opus with Mark Ronson in 2014, Mars has apparently been compelled to replicate funk music in the most watered-down and completely unimaginative way possible. Take his follow-up single, “24K Magic.” Combining two-steps, disco-inspired beats and even similar call-and-response verses, “24K Magic” is essentially “Uptown Funk 2.0.”

Now, I don’t even see anything wrong with “Uptown Funk” itself: it’s a cleverly written pop song that blends important elements of funk music. It is the fact that every track Mars has released since has attempted to follow the Mark Ronson track in its footsteps. Even the Cardi B collab track “Finesse” has nearly the same instrumentation, flow and lyrical themes as “Uptown Funk” and “24K Magic.” His materialistic lyricism and disingenuous cool demeanor simply fall short, no pun intended.

Guru Ramanathan, Film & TV Editor

I can’t speak for Kiki, but I certainly do not love Drake. You can count on Drake for one thing: the memes that have spread out of his career. But as a rapper he’s not that fun to listen to or game-changing in any way compared to revolutionary contemporary artists like Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino and Kanye West (sorry, Daniella). He’s nice and all (a good Canadian) but that doesn’t translate to talent. His lyrics are bland and lack any sense of style or deeper meaning. Even some of his recent hits, “God’s Plan” and “In My Feelings,” are known more for the hilarious jokes and challenges they spawned than for being good songs. While he’s great as an adjunct on something like Rihanna’s “Work,” Drake himself has failed to create a memorable pop hit for me. One hundred years from now, I’d really be surprised if anyone still references his work (save the jokes, of course).

Azealia Banks
Ryan Mikel, Arts Editor

A first-year me promised that I would stan Azealia Banks ‘til the end of time, or at least the end of NYU. However, it’s 2018, and while I appreciate Banks’ attempt to return to the music industry with “Anna Wintour” and “Treasure Island,” the Harlem rapper still hasn’t learned to just smile and stay out of other artists’ businesses. Banks has been in the game since her ferocious single “212” blew up worldwide in 2011, but seven years later, female emcees like Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, in addition to megastars like SZA and Kehlani, have stolen the thunder, and not to mention accolades, from the once “next big thing.” Over the course of her career, she has managed to incite more controversy and feuds than actual projects of any commercial or critical success. Instead of a “Fantasea II” or single entry on the Billboard Top 200, Banks called Cardi B a “caricature” of a black woman, allegedly broke up Elon Musk and Grimes and reopened wounds with Minaj even after the “Queen” rapper complimented her “Anna Wintour” single. Azealia, you are a supernova of talent, intelligence and beauty, but until you learn to just stop targeting every rising emcee or celebrity that slights you in the slightest, you will never see a “Best New Artist” nomination or get the record deal you deserve. This opinion may not be unpopular at all, but as a gay man, essentially the core of her minuscule fan base, I can no longer support everyone’s problematic favorite. You can’t sell soap forever.

Email the Arts Desk at [email protected].