It would seem as if much of modern America´s youth are listening to one of two things regarding their music interest: either what can be found on today’s popular radio, or specifically selected stations on apps like Pandora or Spotify. With the exception of some straggler groups interested in other genres, our generation is relatively homogenous in taste, with most listening to none other than today’s generic dance-pop and radio-edited rap. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an editorial to convince the reader that these genres are bad; but when I see videos of the small children of pop/rap fans “twerking”, “hitting the dab” or “whipping” and “nay-naying”, I question how positive the influence of this music is on our generation.
Ska is a little-known genre that has had a few surges, or “waves” of popularity since it’s creation in late 1950’s Jamaica. Many people have likely heard it at times, but it’s widely known and loved by a primarily underground fan base. The genre, a beautiful combination of reggae, rock, and jazz with a very distinctive beat, is commonly characterized by off-beat guitars, generally upbeat tone and lyrics, and a brass section. It’s most recent wave, the “third wave of ska,” was debatably its most popular and widely listened to. A special form of dancing called “Skanking” came into creation with the genre, which is similar to the widely known “walking man” move. Additionally, ska has several sub-genres like ska punk and skacore that deliver to audiences of varying musical taste.
I believe that ska is the genre that our generation needs. Bands like Less Than Jake, Goldfinger, The Specials, Reel Big Fish, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Operation Ivy, Stacked Like Pancakes, etc. are not only fantastic in their musical abilities, but they’re also so much fun to listen to. Our generation has unfortunately become a considerably more negative group who are close-minded to music genres other than their own, but I think if more people were to give ska a try, they would realize that there’s something in it for everyone. Ska songs typically talk of light and happy subject matter; even when lyrics might be heavier, the sound remains upbeat and fun to listen to.
I personally have listened to ska for years now and can say it’s my favorite genre. It’s a shame it hasn’t really flourished since its third wave; but if a fourth wave decides to arise, I hope it’s large enough to make it into the mainstream.