Artists’ deaths cement connections


Jasmine Wang

MUSICAL AMUSEMENT. Students claim music is a way to rewind and relax. Many artists who have died resonate with teenagers and give a voice to the emotions and obstacles that they are experiencing. Music is a way to receive encouraging advice from people who understand teenagers.

By Katerina Lopez, University of Chicago Laboratory High School

Whether driving, doing homework or just laying down to rewind after a long day, music plays a big part in most teens’ lives.

Claire Piccirilli, a sophomore, said music helps her to think.

“I usually listen to X’s music while I was writing it just put me in a zone,” Claire said, “or when I was sad I’d just sit and listen to it for an hour or so. It just made me contemplate a lot of things going on in my life. I’m always really busy, but I just sat down and thought about things for a while which was nice.”

Claire Piccirilli

Music is an escape. Naturally, the people making music are admired for creating the music that people love. Their stories of pain and suffering, as well as happiness are translated into an art form which inspire special connections. In many ways, the pain and suffering these artists have gone through help their audience empathize with them through their music.

In the past year or so, several artists who were especially popular with teens have died including Lil Peep, XXXTentacion and Mac Miller. This is the first time Generation Z has experienced losing artists who they idolize. Other generations have experienced the deaths of their favorite artists, such as Elvis Presley, John Lennon and Michael Jackson. Listening to a dead artist’s music continues their legacy.

Ariel Montague

Michael Harper, a senior who plays drums in the student band Rooftop Parking, said music helps preserve a dead artist’s memory.

“When an artist dies, their music becomes a more important deal,” Michael said, “because in listening to it or hinting at it in one’s own music, you’re preserving their memory and the artist themselves in a lot of ways, and I think that’s really cool.”

Claire said she admires the message spread by the music of XXXTentacion, who died in June.

“His music was something that got me through some tough times. I felt like all his lyrics were very powerful,” Claire said. “The themes of his songs and lyrics were universal for example emotions, violence but also hop, so a lot of people could relate to them including me. I feel like even though there were a lot of controversies about him he was trying to spread a good message.”

When an artist dies, their music becomes a more important deal because in listening to it or at it in one’s own music, you’re preserving their memory and the artist themselves in a lot of ways, and I think that’s really cool.”

— Michael Harper

Once an artist dies, more people listen to their music. This is due to an increase of popularity, from both fans and former ex-fans, the artist gains from people who miss them. Ariel Montague, a junior, said that she used to listen to Mac Miller, and then started listening again after his death in September.

“People definitely listen to his music more now that he’s dead,” Ariel said. “The sadness of their death attracts people to their music. I was a fan freshman year and then started listening to him again after his death.”

Like Michael, Claire thinks that when an artist like XXXTentacion dies, their music remains important.

“I don’t think anyone deserves to die like he did, but death is just a part of life and we mourn and then move on,” she said. “Yes, it’s sad that he won’t be making more music, but I’ll just keep moving on and listening to his old music.”

This story was originally published on U-High Midway on December 13, 2018.