Are You Actually Listening to Your Favorite Artists?

This week, Passion Pit singer Michael Angelakos plans to announce the launch of his new company, one that offers extensive support and resources to musicians from legal to healthcare. Essentially, Angelakos is establishing a mental health program revolving around the struggles musicians face.

During this weekend’s Grammys, Twenty One Pilots received their first Grammy for their single “Stressed Out”. This song is an integral part of their most recent album, Blurryface, which serves as an embodiment of self-awareness, insecurities, and the conquering of those insecurities.

At the end of this show, Adele was awarded Album of the Year, using her acceptance speech to acknowledge Beyoncé for deserving it more. She stood on the Grammy stage and the post-show interview platform and expressed the societal value Lemonade holds, including its honesty, empowering voice, and its cultural relevance.

Beyoncé reacts to Adele’s acceptance speech (via Houston Chronicle)

It is not difficult to find an artist we relate to and connect with on a personal, authentic level. In fact, that’s how we develop the relationship we do with our own individual music tastes. But for almost every artist out there, it’s about more than putting out a song for radio play because their music is representative of a part of them.

When we hear a song or an album we feel on a deeper level, we hear the genre, the artist, the instruments, and all the other aural aspects of the song. We also hear the more intensely embedded message: “you are not alone”.

It’s not all the time that we have to experience the pain or struggle that our favorite artists experience. Angelakos openly discusses his struggle with bipolar disorder, but speaks to a broader audience than just those dealing with mental illness, because the power of vocalizing hardships is dignifying. Adele properly and elegantly demonstrates solidarity with Beyoncé and the messages portrayed by the minority community because, although she can’t relate on a personal level, she and others can understand and embrace courage in adversity.

Topics that touch on the political, the mental, the emotional, and the like are overwhelmingly broad and difficult to harness within the confines of so many words. Nonetheless, music is the universal language we can turn to in order to convey the hardest things to articulate.

You say your music speaks to you. So, how are you going to respond?

Alyssa O'Brenski

Southwest-suburb born and raised, and attending University of Iowa. Chicago, its sports, and an infinite amount of music are a few things I can't get enough of.

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