Musical legacies in modern music

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Olivia Gulino, Contributing Writer

 

There’s something so soothing about drowning out the world with some Frank Sinatra or Louis Armstrong. The same goes for The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, Buddy Holly and any number of other legendary artists.

But what’s most surprising and wonderful about classics such as these is that their legacy can be traced down to music of this very day, both explicitly and implicitly. Madeline Peyroux, the modern-day answer to Billie Holiday, is a prime example. Listening to her music is like being transported back in time.

On a less obvious level, though, you have traces of smooth ’70s grooves in the styles of bands like Ages and Ages and ’80s rock influences in the lo-fi genre today. On top of that, harmonic girl groups like HAIM and The Staves owe their origins to staples of the Motown era like The Supremes. And every time you’re enthralled by skilled guitar picking, you owe something to Nick Drake, whose skills in that area were revolutionary in his time period.

The work of these modern artists is not mere recycling or the result of a lack of imagination or originality. Rather, people gravitate to these singers and artists because they are at once familiar and strange, both comfortable and unsettling. These voices and musical styles stand out because they connect their listeners to all of music in some way or another.

So when you discover a new band, artist or genre that you love, it’s thrilling because there’s something new and creative in the way the music is being made, but at the same time, it brings to mind the shoulders these new faces stand on, the shoulders to which they owe their creativity. It’s a beautiful synthesis of old and new. As a certain Italian would say, “Ain’t that a kick in the head?”

 

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