When American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016, being the first musician to receive the award, controversy arose on whether a singer/songwriter should be able to qualify for the award. The Nobel Prize in Literature is one of if not the most supreme awards in the world of literature. Only writers of outstanding excellence and worthiness are awarded the prize. However, it has been seen that the litterateur selected to be the Nobel Prize winner often creates a large number of discontent and controversy. Singer/songwriters’ song lyrics should be considered in the same league as poetry or art and have the same ability to move individuals with their influence, making singer/songwriters worthy to win the Noble Prize in Literature.
The oldest form of literature, poems, is not much different from song lyrics. While words in a poem take place against the context of silence and words in a song take place in the context of deliberate musical information: melody, rhythm, instrumentation, the quality of the singer’s voice, other qualities of the recording, etc. they often have the same amount of power to move and influence an individual (bostonreview.net). Poetry and song lyrics have their differences but accomplish the same goal. Anything with the power to move a population should be considered in a way that the author of such things has the opportunity to attain a prize that shows the merit of such an author. But how much do songs and their lyrics really affect our lives?
According to the website, blog.soncibids.com songs and their lyrics have three types of impacts: cultural, moral, and emotional. Belinda Huang says, ‘I believe that morals and behavior, especially in teens, aren’t completely steered by the lyrics they’re listening to because there are so many factors to building a moral compass. However, music can definitely play a significant role in determining what seems to be right or wrong, okay or not okay, and good or bad.’ ‘There were times and places — in the Europe of the Middle Ages, as an example — where music might remain largely the same for hundreds of years,’ writes Selwyn Duke in ‘Influential Beats: The Cultural Impact of Music.’ ‘And it is no coincidence that in medieval times something else also remained quite constant: culture. It is clear to me that changes in music hew closely to changes in society’s consensus worldview.
This explains why musical tastes change so quickly today: With no dominant cultural stabilizer, such as the Catholic Church (whose medieval influence is undeniable); the ability to transmit ideas worldwide at a button’s touch via modern media…society is prone to continual arbitrary change.’ Culture and music flow together, without culture there can be no music and without music, what will influence and create the culture? Music has the potential to change a mood, to shift an atmosphere, and to encourage a different behavior (sonicbids.com). Just because music and its lyrics have the power to move countless individuals and have done so since the creation of such things, it does not mean that such writers and creators of these songs and lyrics should be rewarded with a prize for literature.
Some believe that lyricists and songwriters/musicians do not deserve the Nobel prize in literature because song lyrics aren’t real literature in the same way that a book is. Or perhaps they believe that it is the music that influences us, not the lyrics. Both these statements, however, are false. Literature, by its very definition: Literature, most generically, is any body of written works. More restrictively, literature refers to writing considered to be an art form or any single writing deemed to have artistic or intellectual value, often due to deploying language in ways that differ from ordinary usage, is something written (wikipedia.org). Because song lyrics are something written and can be considered an art form similar to poetry as well as sometimes differing from normal language styles, it is literature. Songs, being part music and part lyrics, have the potential to move someone. But words that are spoken often lead to more influence than sounds played. This means that the lyrics of a song are more influential than the music.
Because of songs being composed of part lyrics and part music and because lyrics are a form of literature capable of influence a large population or group of people, singer/songwriters and lyricists should be able to qualify for the Nobel prize in literature. To restate the second paragraph: anything with the power to move a population should be considered in a way that the creator of such things has the opportunity to attain a prize that shows the merit of such creator.