Laura Jones

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    Latest Articles

    Latest Topics


    Has Pop Music Simplified Over Time?

    In numerous studies, people are finding that pop music is homogenizing, both harmonically, stylistically, and even in vocal variety (i.e. very similar sounding artists being appreciated). Some claim that pop music is being "dumbed down" by becoming harmonically and melodically simplified. While pop music nowadays may be more harmonically and melodically simple, are there other factors that make it more complex/varied? Should we judge music based on these factors, or should we appreciate other aspects of the genre? What are those factors that we should appreciate?

    • A big factor is how formulaic a lot of the music is. Everyone wants to climb to the top via popularity and they do so by following the mainstream and taking the place of those who came before them by doing the same act. Many musicians don't even write their own songs, they just perform what their companies give them. It's a struggle between capitalism and the rise of the artist. – LaRose 8 years ago
    • I'm not sure this topic fits into any of the current categories. According to the guidelines, music is not currently a category, but might be in the near future. Once this comes to pass, I would give this topic a second look. – BoomBap 8 years ago
    • This topic is difficult because there is so many factors that can play a role. While I'm of the opinion that music (and all mainstream art including visual media, animation, film, literature, and theater) is being dumbed down. The reason people are noticing how similar music is becoming is also due to them being more familiar and experienced with it. While many artist are often criticized for "copying" other artist work. The reality is many artist are "inspired" by other artist. You can see this with bands like Wolfmother, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Cage the Elephant who were inspired by late 60's rock bands and tried to imitate them. You can honestly pick any era for music (or games, movies, and theater) and start noticing how redundant trends pop up due to the success of others. If you go back to the early 2000's there was a point where every artist was using auto tune and even further back you had the gangster rap era where everyone was trying to prove how "tough" they where. Also more recently Invincible has become incredibly popular due to its Amazon series and many people have praised it for its subversion of mainstream comic-books, but to me that is not the case. As, many of the more "shocking" elements have been done before by other comic-book series, such as the supposed paragon of good actually being corrupt. And is simply using his positive image to take over the world. Graphic violence has always been apart of comics and super hero's having sexual relations and having it be portrayed in full detail in the pages has also occurred. But the general press is talking up these elements, which to me shows how unfamiliar they are with the subject matter. "Btw I do think Invincible both the comic and Amazon series are worth looking at but not for the reason's I listed above." While I'm sure some musicians are simply following trends, I don't think all of them are. You also have to take in account how producers can act as gate keepers to the success and how popular some artist become, as they may choose to publish one artist over another due to them being similar to another successful arts. – Blackcat130 3 years ago
    • I agree with some of the points previously mentioned. A particular aspect of music that can be argued is the notion of why exactly is pop music in its current state? Popular music in a sense can be argued is rap music due to the popularity of the genre. Moreover, pop music is an amalgamation of various genres blended together and can be seen in the ways in which EDM influences the beats of songs or how low-fi beats borrowed from ambient R&B. – jgabriel97 3 years ago
    • To an extent, I do agree. I think, however, it's about encouraging people to have variety in their listening repertoire. It's ok to listen to something with simple harmonies and melodies, just like it's ok to eat fast food once in a while. I think people should be encouraged to keep an open mind and have a lush pallet of genres in their playlist and also appreciate how many genres, whether classical, jazz, pop, rock, drill or whatever it may be overlap and have more in common than we often give credit for. – JRAsquith 3 years ago

    Can Musicals Transfer to the Screen Effectively?

    Into the Woods, The Last Five Years, Les Miserables, Rent: in the past few years alone, there have been multiple movie musicals released, often with mixed receptions. Is it possible for musicals to move from the stage to the screen and still retain their magic? What might some challenges be? (i.e. target audience; musical fans perhaps disliking casting when people who are not traditionally "singers" are cast – think Hollywood actors rather than Broadway, cutting songs for the sake of time, sound editing causing the magic of a live performance to be lost, etc.)

    • Sweeney Todd could also be discussed, since Johnny Depp isn't traditionally a singer, and his delivery is different and not as robust than, say, George Hearn, though arguably the vibrato may not be as necessary on film than it is on a stage. – Emily Deibler 8 years ago
    • It is definitely difficult for musicals to transfer to film. Often times I would agree that it is a failure and mainly because the people that are heavily critiquing the film may have seem the Broadway version and it is impossible to emote the same feelings that are created when watching a musical live onto the screen. However, when I first saw Chicago the film, I think they did a phenomenal job with it and it may be because they kept some of the songs to maintain that live theater feeling in the way it was choreographed and presented. – Naomster7 8 years ago
    • The struggle with musicals being transferred to film is that the excitement and raw talent that is present in live theater has been cut. It is just another film with singing and dancing in it and the awe of the story being performed live has died. However, the film Chicago, did a fantastic job of recreating the scenes and musical numbers as they would have appeared while viewing them in Broadway. The film was able to portray all of the talent that goes in to live theater. I think another to consider as well with this topic, is the concept of if musicals designed for film can be transferred to Broadway? – Naomster7 8 years ago
    • Good topic! Although there are a couple of musical movies I enjoyed, I think musical should remain in the stage, with live performances and audience. Using famous actors who have zero musical talent just takes the magic away from it for sure. – Nilab Ferozan 8 years ago
    • I think, as most have stated here, the biggest problem here is the reliance on "big name" actors, as opposed to truly gifted signers who are truly broadway stars. Yet, with that being said. A broadway actor is an actor, but there is a different format of stage acting that takes place that does not always translate well through cinema. This is kind of an odd catch-22. Overtime these beloved musical become cinematic adaptations, we, the audience, typically seem to be left disappointed. My favorite musicals are the ones from the 40's and 50's, when the amalgam between film and musical was a natural genre. – danielle577 8 years ago

    Parental Figure Deaths and Superhero Origins

    Losing a loved one is a life-changing event. In comics, it’s common that the death of a parental figure is the catalyst for becoming a superhero. Batman, Spiderman, and Daredevil are just a few examples. Is there a reason that this plot point continues to be reused? Has it become overused, or is it just an accurate representation of the extremes to which the death of a loved one can push you? (Obviously, we don’t tend to become superheroes, but I’m speaking metaphorically.)

    • Batman is the only one who has no inherent powers, and was truly driven to that point by the death of his parents. It would also be interesting to see how many villains have this origin, and were driven to deplorable acts by the death of a loved one. – Tarben 8 years ago

    Books to Movies or Books to a Television Series?

    Game of Thrones, Outlander, Netflix’s Jessica Jones, and Netflix’s Daredevil: these are some examples of books and comic books that are now being put into a television series rather than a film. It seems to be a new trend. What are the merits of having a book series represented through television rather than a single film (such as Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings)? Is one better? Is this a natural progression of the new trend of splitting a book into two or three movies (think Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows or The Hobbit)? Is the age of one-book-to-one-film over? If so, is that a good thing?

    • Is television or film adaption better? it depends on the book or comic itself and how detailed and complex it is. The only difference between film and television is that the story in a television show can take its time while a movie has to fit everything into at least a 2 hour adaption for the audience to be satisfied. Another reason is if the book or comics film rights were bought by a major conglomerate, the writers and producers would have to convince the studio to do either one. For Game of Thrones, G.R.R. Martin created an intricate world that would not have been able to translate well into a film adaption, while Lord of the Rings is similar but is compiled into three books, so it made the trilogy easier for a film adaption, with the prequel, the Hobbit, which made them a lot of money and was stretch out. Is it a good thing? I believe so, because many television adaptions can stay true to the books and comics or take a completely different direction which creates an alternate universes that many fans enjoy, one example is The Walking Dead, they follow the storyline but they have changed a couple of things due how well they can translate the story visually and budget. and is the one book to film over? No, because there are stand alone novels that the film studios have acquired and will capitalize on, one example is Jojo Moyes, Me Before You, featuring the khaleesi herself, Emilia Clarke. – Angelina91 8 years ago

    BDSM and Fifty Shades of Grey

    While the quality of its prose is generally considered substandard, E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey has topped bestseller lists around the world. The book is also the subject of controversy when it comes to its portrayal of relationships and BDSM, but that doesn’t seem to have impeded its popularity. What does the popularity of the book say about society and its views of BDSM? Does everyone secretly harbour a repressed desire for sexual domination? Is that the cause of its popularity?

    • It would also be helpful for anyone who writes this to see responses from the BDSM community regarding 50 Shades. – Emily Deibler 8 years ago

    What Characteristics Cause a Song to Reach the Top 40?

    Looking at the current USA Singles Top 40, what causes a song to be a huge hit? Are there similar musical characteristics? Does it have to do with marketing? Are certain themes prevalent? Based on these popular songs, what would you say the "formula" to having a hit is? If the songs share many characteristics, would you say that this is positive or negative?

    • If anything, I think there has to be something in the beat, the tune, and the tempo. Because often times the lyrics are pretty "by-the-numbers," and have been used countless times for decades, always saying the same things. Some songs change it up with modern concepts and modern slang, and even build the whole song's hook on it: which can make a song fun strictly because of it's hook. But most times, I think it's just the tune and how it grabs you. That's the main reason why I love J-pop. I can't understand a word that's being said, nor do I usually need to know: I just love the beat and the tune. I'll even sing along as best as I can because of how energetic the songs often are. – Jonathan Leiter 8 years ago
    • The writer of this article should check out The site explains the "Hit Equation" and has scientific formula on how to create a hit song. – Lexzie 8 years ago

    Jessica Jones and Kilgrave as Mental Illness

    Netflix’s Jessica Jones was released in November 2015 and has had a great response over the past few months. Mental illness is something the protagonist struggles with in the form of PTSD. The villain, Kilgrave, has the power to control the minds of others. He is also the cause of Jessica’s PTSD and haunts her through just the knowledge of his existence. To what degree is Kilgrave representative of various forms of mental illness? Can the metaphor of Kilgrave=mental illness be extended to depression, anxiety, attachment issues, schizophrenia, etc.? Are certain aspects of mental illness shown in the show through him? (I.e. No one believes in his existence=mental health stigma, people who have been "kilgraved" constantly fear his return, etc.)

    • I'm very interested in your point about how people don't believe his effects are possible/exist, and it's true he can damage people's minds. However, I think that even an extreme extension of mental illness would not have the word-for-word control that Kilgrave has, or be quite so exterior to the victim/survivor. However I think that the therapy group touched on how it unsettled them that he sometimes made them indulge in their unacceptable desires. – IndiLeigh 8 years ago
    • Perhaps not. However, I actually have severe depression, and I found that the show spoke to me on a very personal level, which is what prompted this topic. I feel like I lose control when I'm depressed, and it's a bit frightening, because I don't know what I'll do. I can try to stop the downswing, but sometimes it's impossible, and suicidal thoughts are hard to ignore. It's a bit like having a little Kilgrave in your head. – Laura Jones 8 years ago

    What is the future of opera?

    Opera houses are closing all over the world. Audiences are becoming increasingly smaller (and older). There is also a certain stigma surrounding opera, possibly because it is now considered somewhat elitist. Opera has been around since 1597; is it possible that this art form is no longer relevant? Is it doomed to die out entirely?

    • I don't know of any sort of stigma attached to opera per se, but this may be something that is demonstrable. Also, you may wish to look at the emergence of atonal music, and see if you could find any correlation - there may not be, but I think it is an avenue worth investigating. – JDJankowski 9 years ago
    • Most opera is tonal, actually, especially the ones performed regularly in major opera houses. It might be worth a look, though! However, it is possible that the average ear is no longer used to complex harmonies or vocal acrobatics in music, which could be why people are less interested. Perhaps it also has to do with attention span; popular songs are usually around three minutes... is three hours just too long for a modern audience? I personally find that there is a significant stigma surrounding opera. Most people assume that it's terrible without ever having listened to it or seeing one. It seems that it's not "cool" to like opera. In my music history class, we discussed that classical music and opera is now considered somewhat classist and elitist. Perhaps this is because people seem to dress up to go, listen politely and wait their turn to clap (instead of the general freedom of audience reaction in a rock concert, for example), and often pay large amounts of money to go. That's not even considering things like lavish sets/costumes and the years of training and discipline that the performers must have to reach a level where they can perform in an opera or symphony. I'd be curious to read an article about this! – Laura Jones 9 years ago
    • Opera goes through periods of popularity and non-popularity. Take Thatcher's Britain, for example, where high art was very "in" and other forms of performance such as musical theatre sought to mimic opera (les mis, phantom of the opera, and other "pop-eras") In writing this article, one would benefit from talking about where opera has been and the circumstances under which it was popular in order to unlock its future. I, for one, guarantee, it will not die in our lifetime. – Cmandra 9 years ago
    • I agree with Cmandra. The overlap between certain musical theatre and opera is interesting. Why is Le Miserables so popular but Carmen is not? – Peter Prevos 7 years ago

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    Latest Comments

    Great article! I felt like a learned a lot. I really appreciate Hamilton for it’s musical genius, but you’re right; it’s definitely a very relevant show for the current political climate in the US.

    Hamilton and the Construction of Post-Obama Americanism

    I’m glad that you talked about mental disability as well. The fact that it’s present primarily in villains probably only perpetuates the stigma around mental illness. I would love to see a prominent hero with depression or bipolar disorder.

    Disability in Comics: The Misconstrued Representation

    Interesting article. I’ve never read the comics; I only watched the movies, and it never occurred to me to think that Batman might be depressed, except perhaps briefly when he loses a different loved one to the Joker.

    So, from your article, I assume that you think Batman battled depression from a young age due to the death of his parents. Do the comics go into any of his coping strategies between the death of his parents and his start as Batman? Do you think depression was an ongoing force in his life, or do you think that it was periodic due to situations in his life?

    What Batman can Teach Us About Depression

    I absolutely loved reading your comparison between Cersei and Arya. I never would have considered those characters to be similar at all, but you explained it very convincingly. You pointed out a lot of things that I definitely missed, which made this a really fascinating read for me.

    There are a couple of errors here (Catelyn has a brother, for example), but they don’t detract from the overall article. I thought it was extremely well-written with lots of great, thought-provoking idea. Thanks for writing this.

    How A Feminist Watches Game of Thrones: Power Is Power

    Thank you so much! (And thank you for your edits!)

    Folk Music: A Timeless Genre

    I think that you can evoke a sound that is close to traditional folk music without technically being “folk” music. Again, it’s a bit of a grey area because there are so many different definitions of what can qualify as folk music. Based on the really long definition I have in the article, I would say that it isn’t technically folk, but it is part of the contemporary folk genre, which is slightly different (think folk festivals). Since their songs haven’t been widely absorbed into the overall culture of a group of people, I don’t think it can technically be considered folk music of the sort that I’m looking at in this article. However, I do think that their music has similar elements, and you can tell that it’s inspired by traditional music. I hope that answers your question!

    Folk Music: A Timeless Genre

    Very well-written. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your great grammar, convincing writing, and interesting ideas. As a Sherlock fan, I’ve wandered across a lot of SuperWhoLock stuff, and I always wondered why these three shows had a large mutual fanbase. I now feel as though I understand!! You drew some great links between them. This was such a great read; I only wish there was more!!

    The Keys to SuperWhoLock

    I have to say that I disagree with parts of this. I’m not sure that Dr. Jekyll truly wanted to become Mr. Hyde; he enjoys it at first, yes, but then he tries to destroy that inner self entirely. He fails, but he does try. If anything, Mr. Hyde wins and takes over against Dr. Jekyll’s will. In that sense, while I see some interesting parallels with the character of Heathcliff, I have to disagree with the idea that he wants his darker inner self to win. If anything, I think that both works focus on tortured souls, with one just being more blatant about duality through a physical transformation.

    However, I do think that you pointed out several elements that do pinpoint why these works are such excellent examples of the gothic genre.

    Stevenson and Bronte: The Similarity Between Vastly Different Stories