New music brings back pop-music memories

Sarah Contreras

In the world of pop music, what is old is new again.

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that it has been quite the crazy week for music nostalgia. If you haven’t, let’s take a look at the announcements made recently:

Jan. 8

David Bowie releases his first new music–a single called “Where Are We Now?”–in a decade and also announces a new album, The Next Day, due in March.

Jan. 10

Justin Timberlake reveals a video of him in a recording studio, along with a countdown clock.

Jan. 11

Destiny’s Child announced that they are to reunite during Beyoncé’s performance during the Super Bowl XLVII Halftime show. The group also debuted a new song, “Nuclear,” and announced an upcoming album.

Monday

Timberlake’s countdown clock runs out at midnight. His new single, “Suit & Tie,” debuts, marking the release of his first new single since 2006.

Tuesday

’90s rap act Kris Kross announces plans to reunite and perform at the 20th anniversary celebration for So So Def Recordings. The concert will also include performances from Da Brat, Jagged Edge and Bow Wow.

In eight short days, major acts from the ’80s, ’90s and early aughts (2000s) dropped headline-making bombs on the music world.

It’s a bit much to take in. While music lovers everywhere are rejoicing, this wave of nostalgia begs for examination. Why now? Sure, music critics have been waiting for Timberlake to drop the acting gigs and pick up a microphone for more than five years, but that isn’t the point.

The point is that whatever the new pop music standard is, it isn’t working. Perhaps producers and executives realized that acts like Macklemore and One Direction can be alienating toward people who enjoy the occasional pop song but are no longer 15 years old. Maybe listeners are hungry for music that reminds them of a time before off-the-rails crazy reality shows and overly auto-tuned vocals.

Of course, there is the possibility that these acts see their relevance fading and are trying to combat that (honestly, this is more of a given than a possibility). But the fact is that now is definitely the right time to clamor for relevance–these announcements simply may not have worked for the artists a year ago–see Backstreet Boys’s attempt to be in the spotlight in early 2011, which failed despite the involvement of New Kids On The Block.

Listeners are bored. Thankfully, Beyoncé and Bowie caught wind of our boredom and have answered our pop music prayers.