An Ode to Aretha Franklin and All the Legends That Millennials Take for Granted
I am at a complete loss of words over the death of Aretha Franklin. My heart hasn’t felt this kind of sadness since my idol, Amy Winehouse, passed so quickly and so young. It is absolutely devastating. What makes me feel even more uneasy is the burning question within me: Do millennials even care to know who Aretha Franklin is? I am absolutely most genuinely curious as to what the percentage would because from my perception of today’s pop culture world, nobody would even give two dumps. An even bigger pill to swallow is how none of who would be considered an icon today could ever compare to the likes of Aretha, Amy, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, and even those living that don’t get enough love. And there are more legends than those I listed, but they are my personal favorites. This whole article is all opinion based and I am sitting on no high horse, just a chair.
Now, it is not my purpose to bash any artist in particular because I would rather keep this about culture and legends. However, I am losing my faith in all that is pop culture when teenage girls can be worshipped for their selfies and follower counts on instagram while true talent lays in the back burner most of the time burnt off. Many prominent pop artists today have swarms of fans that are ready to attack anyone who DARE speak against their god, and that just degrades the purpose of music in general. Given that I am only twenty-four, I do not know if the likes of legends like Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone had a military of pathetic, materialistic fans in constant attack mode. If so, can someone enlighten me?
Moving forward, Aretha Franklin was beyond the concept of follower counts, likes, and hits on YouTube for Millennials to orgasm over. Her legendary existence and timeless impact on the music world is an orgasm itself, and one that much of our younger generation won’t get the satisfaction of feeling unless they truly try to break free from what is considered iconic today. In comparison, it’s as if music today has become more of a quickie and a get off than something to appreciate like fine aged cheese from the hills of France. Aretha was beyond France, she gave us tastes of exquisite cuisines from the fanciest of countries all in the form of her artistry and vulnerable vocal expressions.
I am mostly saddened because the loss of Aretha Franklin feels like another loss of what is left of a timeless foundation crumbling at the hands of younger millennials who run pop culture. The problem is that white girls who pretend to be all “hood” and abuse their mothers on Dr. Phil get rewarded with record deals and a Billboard nomination while legends like Missy Elliott and Lil Kim are treated with a lower regard because of their age. So while young, impressionable kids begin jamming to tasteless music about “hoes” and “percocets” without even knowing what a percocet is, legends who broke major ball busting sweat to build that platform get left behind and unappreciated. That is a sad shame and a disgrace.
Back to Aretha Franklin, her influence can be felt in almost all genres of music because of how powerful she was and always will be. Although she sang “Chain of Fools”, she linked a chain of inspiration that span across many genres and that is something to NEVER take for granted. Everyone can love who they love and listen to what they want to listen to, but when legends like Aretha Franklin fly under the radar till they die, it becomes a time for Millennials (myself included) to truly reflect on what music truly is meant to be and why we value a McDonalds meal over a home cooked dinner with exotic desserts and wines.
No one should listen to Nicki Minaj without getting to know Lil Kim, Missy Elliott, Trina, and the original OG female rappers who built a platform for the likes of Nicki and Cardi B to be where they are today. If we truly appreciate today’s most prominent female rappers, then we need acknowledge the ones before them for opening doors and breaking barriers to allow for their success in 2018. And that is not solely on the artists themselves, but my generation and the ones to follow. We should never wait until another legend dies to acknowledge and appreciate their influence because that is what led us to our guilty pleasures today.
If Khloe Kardashian’s “sad little life” with a cheating manwhore is more important than the fate of what we value as vital to our culture, then so be it. However, I refuse to take part in such meaningless worship of celebrities who do nothing but turn heads in awe each time they do something so irrelevant as fart or give their opinion about something political. We lack an abundance of quality role models and leaders in culture today and I blame social media and easy access to anything and everything. Nobody has time for the older generations because they are too busy following the best ways to get 10,000 likes on a lip synching app to become a musical legend in this world. I’m looking at you, Musical.ly.
We truly take our legends for granted, and today was another sad reminder of how much we need them for the sake of music. Aretha’s legacy will obviously live on because so many people adored her, and I hope that the younger generations will wake up, grab the torch, and pass it on for the rest of human existence. Cheers to you Aretha, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done while on this Earth. Your lyrics spoke to my soul in a way that most cannot do today, and that is something I will value forever. And cheers to all the legends of every single genre of music who have impacted today without us even realizing. You deserve an ode and a bow for all of you have done and in your very special, legendary way.