The Centric in Our Music

Cen·Tric  (sntrk) also cen·tri·cal (-tr-kl)adj.

1. Situated at or near the center; central.

A person can be referred to as being self-centric. As the urban dictionary states, being self-centric is not the same as being self-centered or ego-centric. A person who is self-centric is not full of themselves, they do however believe that everything in the world has to do with them as an individual.

Listening to the radio just yesterday, I heard a song I was familiar with come on. Much to my surprise during a portion of the song which references locations the singer had been to, one of the locations had been changed to the name of the city the radio station was playing music for: Orlando (instead of Colorado). You may be familiar with this song as well …

Good Life by One Republic:
To my friends in New York, I say hello
My friends in L.A. they don’t know
Where I’ve been for the past few years or so
Paris to China to Colorado

Likewise, I remembered having heard a song by Lady Gaga on the radio not too long ago, You and I. Here lyrics had been changed from saying Nebraska to saying Florida (here the state the radio station played to).

You and I by Lady Gaga:
We got a whole lot of money, but we still pay rent
‘Cause you can’t buy a house in Heaven
There’s only three men that I’m a serve my whole life
It’s my daddy and Nebraska and Jesus Christ

(Video may be unsuitable for young viewers; consider PG13 rating.)

As the song was playing I was driving along the highway headed back into town with a friend. We both commented on the self-centered nature of the station to change the artists’ lyrics. But is it the nature of the station or of the listeners to like the changed locations in the lyrics?

It was only a few centuries ago that people as a whole believed that the Earth was the center of the universe, that the sun, stars and other planets all traveled around us. Is it such a stretch of the imagination to think that people still believe this only on a smaller scale? So now, having accepted the truth of the planets and stars traveling around the sun, we possibly still have yet to accept that the universe doesn’t revolve around our city or state. I think it is a shame is destroy any artist’s work for our own amusement. Personally, as someone who works in the artistic fields, I have a rule of 70%. That is to say, if you are going to change someone else’ work, change at least 70% of the original to make it your own. Not that it needs to be said, but changing one word in an entire song to make it so that we feel like it centers around us, around our locations, does not constitute 70% change.

A second type of editing everyone hears on the radio waves is bleeping, or the substitution of a different word or unintelligible sound in the place of a swear word. While this can be slightly more acceptable, there are always little ears about who perhaps do not need to learn to cuss until they can at least grasp the idea of the meaning of the word, it too can be quite irritating. I am sure bleeping has caused many people to question why a station would bother to play a song when more than half the words would have to be bleeped out to do so. This form of censorship, while likewise a means of destruction of an artist’s work, at least can be rationalized to be serving a purpose. However, I can think of no justification for location substitution beyond a purely selfish desire… It reads to me as city-centric, state-centric, self-centric and because it is a purely selfish reasoning as to why the lyrics are changed, self-centered. Do we really need to hear people who do not know us sing about us in their music?

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