Friday, May 18, 2007
Pop Songs About White Collar Workers
The article at the link below states that "the white-collar office may be the best friend the entertainment industry has," citing how cubicle workers tuned into their iPods and the Internet have boosted the consumption of popular music. And yet pop songs about us white collar folks are few and far between. In recent years, there have been "office sitcoms, office novels and office movies", but the office is yet to come up on the radar of popular music. According to Time magazine, "Rock music has never lacked for zillionaires to romanticize farmhands and factory workers. But what of the John Henrys plowing sweatily through PowerPoint presentations? White-collar employees, who make up 60% of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are largely absent from pop lyrics, except for novelty songs and minor works."
There are some exceptions, such as the New Jersey group, the Fountains of Wayne, "who are to accountants what Bruce Springsteen is to refinery workers," and Jonathan Coulton, whose "Code Monkey" celebrates (or bemoans) the misadventures of a computer programmer in love with a receptionist. With office jobs displacing the blue collar toil that once served as the backdrop for many classic songs, songs in office settings are bound to become more common in the future. For those of us who do such work, the office is just a part of life, not something that necessarily defines us or limits our humanity. Musicians and lyricists who sets songs in our world often inhabit it themselves, so they are, in effect, "writing about what they know." Some believe that songs "lashing out at the corporate world [don't] work as well in American pop culture because the corporate world co-opts rebellion so well," but songs about the perennial pursuit of love, respect and identity would surely strike a chord with millions. There's always a demand out there for songs with such universal themes. As Time says, "The most rebellious thing of all may be to suggest that white-collar workers can be complex, sympathetic, even noble. If this idea hasn't broken through in mainstream pop, there's a market for it on the Internet..."
"Officeworkers Need a Springsteen Too" from Time