Complaining about pop music is probably the safest form of musical clickbait imaginable. After all, who isn’t annoyed by at least some earworm, some teeny-bopper celeb? If you long for still more of that, we have another white guy shouting at a camera about it – and, to be fair, some of this is reasonably funny. There’s just one problem: is the argument that music is getting progressively worse actually true – or even asking the most relevant questions?

First, let’s have a watch of the film:

The thesis that pop music is terrible and getting worse is not terrifically difficult to argue if you so choose, but Paul Joseph Watson takes up something that ought to read as more provocative right in the one-line description:

“The music industry is brainwashing us into liking terrible songs.”

I initially thought that the “brainwash” reference would have something to do with the production of pop songs – maybe something like the “four chord phenomenon,” where many chart-toppers have the same major triadic harmonic progression (with the same voicing, no less). Listen:

To me as a composer, this was always fascinating. In fact, rather than a criticism, you could watch the above video as something of a challenge – how do you fit in a harmonic structure so narrow, but stand apart? (Bonus irony points: “Love the Way You Lie” was written by Skylar Grey as an ode to the abusive relationship she had with the music industry.)

But the video isn’t about that. It’s actually a common refrain of complaints. On their own, each of them is factual. But let’s put them in context – most significantly, in the context of a pop industry that is partly collapsing, and partly re-aligning.

One at a time.

Lyrics are getting dumber. The loudest shouting involves pop lyrics getting dumber, based on a widely-shared study of “lyric intelligence.” I find these numbers utterly fascinating, if taken as a grain of salt. But apart from the sample size (a decade’s worth of Billboard chart toppers), we have to first consider the metric itself.

Almost everywhere I’ve seen the study quoted, it’s been presented in a profoundly misleading way. The data Seatsmart displays and compares is from the Flesch–Kincaid readability test, specifically the grade level score. You can do the same thing the Seatsmart writer did, by pasting stuff into a free website.

What the Flesch–Kincaid grade level actually does is weight text by density – density of syllables per word, and words per sentence. On some level, this could suggest something about the relative braininess of lyrics, but probably not in a terribly useful way. That is, Steven Sondheim will rank higher than Katy Perry, but – you knew that already. (“A wedding? What’s a wedding? It’s a prehistoric ritual where everybody promises fidelity forever which is maybe the most horri–” I’ll stop.)

But having greater syllable and word density doesn’t make something smarter, any more than food having more ingredients necessarily makes it better. Flesh-Kincaid has been criticized for being a poor study of actual readability even in its original context. It certainly was never intended to measure lyrics, which are sung and heard, since it was produced to measure text that’s read.

If you really want to defend the Seatsmart article, then congratulations, because you just became a fan of Nickleback and country music, who score highest in the story. CDM’s homepage currently scores only grade 4.5, which explains why we’re so damned popular with pre-teens. I won’t even start with the body of Classical music that repeats “Ave Maria” over and over again.

Or consider Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham, which scores an impossibly low -1.3 thanks to its nearly exclusive use of one-syllable words. Sure, it’s a kids book, technically – but as poetry, the person able to write like that has to be pretty darned smart. And that’s the whole point.

You’re certainly welcome to argue that pop lyrics are dumb or even dumber. But using the measure the US military used in the 1970s to grade the difficulty of their technical manuals – sorry, that’s just stupid.

Finally, as my last piece of evidence, I point you to the 1963 classic “Surfin’ Bird (Bird Is The Word)” as my choice of dumbest song lyrics (hilariously) of all time. Surfin’ Bird squeaks out grade level 2.6 on the F-K index, thanks to repeating the word “bird” in each line so many times and fleeting multi-syllabic action from the words “surfin'” and “everybody.” Try all you might, 21st century music industry, I think you’ll never get dumber. (Wait, now maybe I have argued that pop music has gotten worse, if 1963 was its peak.)

The talent you see aren’t the producers / writers aren’t producing. I’ll call this the “let’s pick on Taylor Swift again” measure.

On its surface, it’s true – many hit pop songs have separate credits for producer and writer. And indeed, the article quoted in the video is a fascinating read:

Hit Charade:
Meet the bald Norwegians and other unknowns who actually create the songs that top the charts
[The Atlantic]

Since these writers dominate the charts, it is fair to say those charts are becoming less diverse. And it means that the talent you see aren’t necessarily writing their own songs.

What’s puzzling to me is the idea that this is a new phenomenon. Burt Bacharach has some 73 US and 52 UK Top 40 hits. Some composers have more hits than others. (Before Bacharach, there was Bach.) In fact, the real point here is that the writers are unknown.

And let’s come back to Taylor Swift, treated with derision in this video in this very example. I’m no Taylor Swift fanboy, but whether I like her songs or not does not entitle me to my own set of facts. And in fact what Taylor Swift has contributed to her records appears to be a significant amount of writing. Rather than random YouTube video contributors, you can ask someone like Imogen Heap – who effuses that Swift is in fact a significant creative force in her top hits. Imogen Heap is herself an example that artists can and do choose to write and produce their own music. (Imogen even does her own mixing, and she has two Grammy nominations and a win.)

Also, while Swift’s 1989 isn’t really my taste, songwriting and production are in fact different qualities. I recently had a thoroughly enjoyable listen to a set of Ryan Adams covers of that album, because the unplugged renditions let the songwriting come through differently.

Listen to the one track that Taylor herself wrote solo. I suppose it backs up the argument that pop production values can drown a track – no argument there. But it undermines the idea that Taylor can’t write. It’s an achingly beautiful song. It’s unmistakably a pop ballad, but sometimes those can be lovely.

Pop is getting more homogenous and louder and worse. Now, here, there may be a case to be made. The video above refers to a 2012 Spanish study that found in a larger dataset evidence that both timbral and harmonic complexity and diversity had weakened from 1955 to 2010.

Also, I think few producers would argue that the “loudness wars” have been damaging to music by over-compressing dynamic range, which by definition will remove dynamic contrast. Simply put, over-simplifying music’s dynamic range is subtracting information from a recording. The simple truth is, humans like things to sound louder – even those of us with sophisticated ears. But a good mastering engineer strikes a careful balance between overall loudness and dynamic information, one missing in a lot of top-of-the-charts pop music.

Remember that we’ve been talking about the loudness wars for a long time. Their rise came with the rise of corporate-owned terrestrial radio. I’m optimistic that we live in an age when young producers can get their hands on superb digital compression software and learn to master tracks properly (and work with capable mastering engineers).

But is music getting worse?

Here’s the crux of the problem. Many of the trends identified in the video are totally fair – and many are widely annoying.

But some of the trends missing from this (and many other) arguments are also important.

Pop music production is becoming more international. Whereas pop was traditionally dominated by decision makers in the US and UK, the future points elsewhere – South Korea’s Gangnam Style suggesting the tip of the iceberg as far as breakout hits from elsewhere in the world.

Traditional pop is threatened. There’s an unspoken implication in rants like the one above: pop music is getting worse, and the unwashed, stupid masses are lapping it up. The problem is, pop music is not the top-selling genre in the major US market (rock and country beat it by far, depending on how you divide up rock), and sales trends are all over the place. Pop sales went up in 2014, but the overall trend (like the rest of the industry) is down.

One way to interpret the dumbing down of pop music is as a survival mechanism, as sales come under greater pressure.

Artists are making their own choices. Whatever algorithm-driven, brickwall-compressed tunes are sitting at the top of the charts, that may say little about the trends across music making in general.

It makes sense that songs vying for big sales and chart-topping hits are composed and engineered in ways that makes them work on what’s left of broadcast media. If you landed from another planet and wanted to make it big there, it would make sense you’d go for very generic and very loud and put an attractive person as your celebrity.

Other channels, though, tell a different story. If you’re trying to make it on YouTube and social media, you better have a good gimmick. (See OK GO.) If you’re trying to make it live, finding a unique niche matters – and that’s a bigger driver as music sales dry up.

I think the bigger trend to watch than what makes pop work is what makes licensed music work. Look for artists to embrace quirky timbres, more dynamic range, and cinematic qualities as they vie for licensing on film, TV, video games, and the like. These all represent opposite musical directions from the ones the video above chooses to target.

adele

The new winners in pop look different. This video leaves out the one big champion of pop sales recently – with good reason, because she flies in the face of the whole argument.

Adele is the new face of success, co-writing her own music and getting sweeping accolades at an astounding rate – count nine Grammies and an Oscar (while juggling mothering a baby boy) by the age of 24.

She’s not old news, either. In fact, as of yesterday, ’25’ continued to top the charts, having been the best-selling album of 2015. Is her music too dumb, or too loud, or part of some secretive Norwegian conspiracy? I don’t think so.

It is collaborative, but pop music has always been collaborative. The Beatles were not a solo act. But they’re white English guys, so unlike female artists, they aren’t accused of any shenanigans even though George Martin defined their sound.

Music production itself is poised to become more diverse. To argue the history of the music industry is a meritocracy – the “better in the old days” argument – is supremely questionable. This is an industry with a long and ugly history of payola and racism, pay-for-play and segregated charts. It’s also an industry that was long dominated by the United States and the UK.

There is a darker side to a lot of this. Count the number of times “pop music is destroying the world” rants point to female artists or people of color, while using older white guys as the “grand old days” examples, and then decide whether you want some of these people on your side – even with some legitimate gripes about awful pop songs you would rightfully like to avoid. In the video above, in fact, one slide derides Beyoncé’s “Run the World” versus Bohemian Rhapsody. Now, what do you suppose would bother the video’s producer about Beyoncé’s lyrics?

In the USA, certainly, the fact that Rihanna is the most marketable celebrity suggests that the biggest shift isn’t in musical content, but a shift from white men to women of color that would before have been all but impossible. (And that’s to say nothing of the invading Koreans, or whomever turns out to be next.) That’s relevant in the context of this week’s criticism of the Oscars in Hollywood; the US formerly could market Elvis and the Beatles to an extent a differing extent than contemporary African-American artists.

Ranting about music you hate – that remains totally legitimate. But then the challenge should be to make sure that new people get opportunities.

Pop music on its own is not drowning out originality. But just as getting stuck on commercial success absolutely can destroy originality, so can getting stuck in the past. If anything, the Internet is proving that finding and promoting originality is a challenge. Rather than rant about what’s at the top of the charts, we should champion what’s failing to chart at all.

And don’t worry about how many chord changes or syllables you’ve got. Just turn off that brickwall limiter, please.

  • Kung Pao Chicken

    The great thing is that I don’t have to listen to music that I don’t like.

    (If it sounds that way, the above comment was not meant to be dismissive of the article – which was interesting.)

    • No, that’s an excellent point that’s said far too rarely.

    • Polite Society

      True to an extent. It would be nice not to hear some of this music whenever I leave the house though.

    • foljs

      “””The great thing is that I don’t have to listen to music that I don’t like.”””

      There’s a problem with this though. “I don’t have to listen to music that I don’t like” is problematic in 2 ways:

      1) We don’t get (nowhere near as much) this dimension of music as a shared cultural phenomenon that’s a power that creates discussion and even change. This thing reached its peak in the 60s and 70s and died sometime in the 90s. What remains, the media discussing Kanye or some recent pop craze are not at all the same with the kind of cultural force that music had back in those days.

      Yes, there were genres and different tastes back then too of course. But everybody in the whole US or France etc was exposed to the whole Top-40 too — and that made music a very powerful force and experience. Now someone can have a #1 hit and 90% of the country would not even know the song.

      2) “I don’t have to listen to music that I don’t like” is also a echo-chamber phenomenon, where people (individuals and small groups) hear the same kind of music (the one they like) again and again, and isolate themselves from the wider world of music on offer. Anything that could expand one’s horizons or takes time to absord? Skip.

      • Well, just because I would decide not to listen to music I do not like does not mean that I do not listen to anything at all out of my comfort zone. First, I need to listen to *something* before I can decide whether I like it or not. Only then, I can decide not to listen to it any more – or include it in my personal future canon.

        Also, as Peter pointed out in his article – there are many sources for discovering new music (or bathing in nostalgia via Youtube or your personal record collection, if you like). So, whatever any media out there broadcasts, is something I can notice while passing, quickly peruse, or dive deeper into if it seems interesting enough.

        So, I dare to disagree with you on that there is any problem with “I don’t have to listen to music that I don’t like”.

        On the other hand, I do agree that it seems to get harder to actually avoid the 25 private radio channels with all their mainstream pop rubbish (which is my personal taste coming through in this argument now) or all that background noise in stores, cafés, public transport etc. But to me, that is a much more general problem of these days, where basically everything gets noisier and noisier, making it more and more difficult to focus on just one thing thoroughly.

      • Elekb

        I might add that IMHO the state of music in general today (i.e., lack of diversity in more popular genres, loudness wars, superficiality in music coverage, and the other issues) has its roots on market over-saturation, mainstream channels’ increasingly limited choice, declining sales for non-“top tier” artists and independent labels (due to piracy and economic crisis), which results in a greatly reduced presence of alternative content in mainstream media, limited audience attention span due to fast-food communication channels (social networks etc)… well, we could go on, but safe to say it’s a complicated issue. I completely agree with you about music’s social and cultural relevance during the 60s until the 90s. Nowadays, for many people from younger generations, music has definitely been relegated to “wall-paper” status.

        All of this definitely links to the “echo-chamber” you mentioned: a force-feedback loop of sameness and lack of curiosity and experimentation, which has been greatly augmented by social networking. I like the Internet, but I remember that until very recently it was commonplace for kids to be surprised and have their ears opened by quirky radio DJs and odd TV shows with videos of weird and off-beat bands or artists. You could argue that internet forums and social network groups have the same effect, but people tend to join groups of like-minded individuals, and inevitably, different or out-of-the-box perspectives get locked out.

      • rd1981

        I agree, top 40 music was great back in the day because of it’s diversity. Pop music was the one place I could get exposed to good music outside of my own cultural background. It would be one great song after the next. 30 years ago, there were 31 different number one songs on the pop charts for 1986. There were only 9 different songs to be number 1 in 2015.

        I realize the music industry’s decline, along with their control over corporate radio stations is the reason for a lot of the woes. I think if everyone purchased music like we did back then; then there would probably be better variety of music.

  • Doug Gough

    Thanks for going deeper on an issue that is normally just glossed over. I just don’t listen to the channels that push ‘pop’. That’s my decision, and it leaves brainspace for finding and enjoying music I like. But I’ve gotten tired of deriding other forms of music. It makes me a miserable person to be around, and it predisposes me to miss out on musical opportunities that may appear on the surface to not match my narrow filters. There are deeper systemic problems as you’ve pointed out, and I think focusing on those issues will be helpful for all artists, whether they choose to make accessible pop songs or obscure experimental electronic noises, like me. I think it’s also worth reflecting on the effect that popularity has on lowering the price and increasing the availability of hardware and software. If people weren’t making the ‘pop’ music that they’re making, would Ableton Live be affordable for me?

  • chaircrusher

    I come from a family of musicians, where an appreciation of pop music goes way back. We have shellacs of my mom & her 2 sisters singing “I Only Have Eyes For You” from the 1940s, and my uncle singing “Constantinople.”

    Most of pop music is disposable by design, but so is most Techno, or House or (let’s face it) Experimental Noise. It’s made to be consumed and forgotten — it follows the principal of pre-planned obsolescence, making room for new disposable pop hits. What pop music trades on is a curious amalgam of familiarity and novelty. My standard joke is that commercial pop music is made to appeal to people who don’t actually like music. That’s unfair, but it is true that it is made to be unchallenging.

    And yet, have you ever really considered (as an example) the Beatles “If I Fell,” which is a music theory student’s wonderland. Consider just the modulation on the word “her” in the line “don’t hurt my pride like her” — or the vocal harmony on the verse. I could write a masters thesis on just that two minutes.
    https://youtu.be/TYKSeYuOvps

    And there’s another thing about pop music: Once one masters the basics of musical performance and composition, it’s easy to be tricky and complex, it’s hard to be simple and compelling. Simple can have depth. I’ve been listening to Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May” for 45 years and I never tire of it. Try to put aside the crimes against popular music he’s committed since his first couple of albums. It’s simple but it’s lovely, and the fade out with the balalaikas achieves a perfect lift off.
    https://youtu.be/fD_6KqP7K0g

    Or consider this song by my friend Jordan Sellergren, which is simple as pancakes, but absolutely devastating: http://milkaneggs.bandcamp.com/track/conscience-cold

    Sneering at pop music is ultimately a shallow, pointless exercise in unearned snobbery.

    • Gunboat_Diplo

      “Sneering at pop music is ultimately a shallow, pointless exercise in unearned snobbery.”
      Yep. Authenticity is overvalued (and impossible to measure)

  • holmes

    I happen to agree with most of the sentiments in the video, but do also agree that the whole scientific analysis of the scene is a bit silly. The young famous pop (music?) stars of today do seem strangely un-cool, awkward, geeky yet unintelligent, even outright vacuous and there does seem to be a profound lack of talent and skill going on with music. It almost seems like the industry has weeded out the stupidest and least among us for the roles, as perhaps no-one with a degree of intelligence is able to take these contrite roles, as they stand today, seriously.

    The lyrics of the current popular songs are indeed empty, air-headed and the music overall does seem to have become quite bland, loads of songs sounding the same, with very uninteresting major-y melodies, overly straight rhythms, strictly diatonic harmony and very little improvisation.

    Unfortunately, I think it goes even deeper than that and would venture to say that music on the whole, certainly newer pop music, is generally losing musicality and soul, in terms of: groove, knowledge, skill level, phrasing and feeling. The feel of the music has been too straightened out, rhythmically and even tuning-wise, in the production phase but also in the recording performances. With younger singers say, strangely emulating the lack of feel that comes from over-editing rhythms and auto-tuning notes.

    If you look at all the music from say the 40s through to the 70s, just for example, there was always an unspoken code or sense of how to do it that was passed around, how to phrase things so they feel good, to groove, to play off the other instruments, soul and feel in general. The rhythms had certain lilts associated with the various style as did the pitch of melodies, with bends, in between stuff, vibrato and so on, and people were seemingly sensitive to developing this. It wasn’t just what you played (which had to be quality content to begin with, regardless of relative complexity), but how you played it. It seems as though the music scene at large arrogantly de-emphasizes this tradition, obviously focussing more on the (over-produced) production, thinking it more important say to decide which DSP processes are going on in the DAW window and quantizing all the life and natural feel out of performances.

    I don’t think the crucial problem lies in the production, over-limiting etc., but that it seems we as humans generally need to spend more time playing, practicing instruments, learning about music (not just production techniques), focussing on the feeling of it (yes, like it was done back in the day), instead of so much computer twiddling and internet time-wasting. That’s partly why the younger generation aren’t very good at it.

    • Gunboat_Diplo

      hog-wash. I bet you think your music is *pushing the envelope” and “redefining genres”.

    • Right, but isn’t part of the major transformation since the 70s that “music as a whole” is getting harder and harder to define? You’re talking about the music scene fairly narrowly in terms of in-the-box producers and engineers in the developed Western world (I think, if I read that right). And quite frankly I think the influence of that group on musicianship in general is waning, not waxing.

      Of course, any of us may have an experience of people with poor training, and music education and amateur musical practice are fighting for survival in lots of places (and deserve support). But there’s some absolutely spectacular musicianship today. And there are more people in more parts of the world able to record their performances than at any time in human history; one big problem is just sorting out what to hear. Moreover, in terms of pure virtuosity, I don’t think there has ever been a time in human history at this level of performance, looking at people at their peak – if you take something like classical music, certainly. (Other practices, diversity may well be endangered, but not I think musicianship overall.)

      A lot of musicological evidence would actually suggest that in past centuries, the average level of musicianship in concert music was comparatively poor. We fantasize about what that sounded like partly through the filter of ensembles now capable of playing it well – we’re projecting their skills on past centuries, without always a real historical basis. Not if we’re talking Chopin, of course, but say average 17th or 18th century chamber music.

      Anyway, that’s not to say there aren’t populations that are struggling. I think that comes down to something really simple: access to music education, or more broadly access to time to play music.

      But if we’re talking about that, for the record, one of the people who has consistently supported music education, financially and in outreach, is … Taylor Swift.

      • holmes

        Well, I’d have to disagree that musicianship has improved. Yes, maybe in a form like classical music, where they’ve maintained or even improved standards, keeping the rigour of their training to demand a certain degree of technical ability, musical understanding and expressivity and emotiveness in performance.

        I was referring more to branches of ‘popular’ music, as was the theme of the article, not ‘in the box’ producers/engineers, but the performers that are singing and playing the music. And most of the defining elements of popular music are still largely based upon the history and stylistic developments in American and British music (folk, blues, jazz, rock, funk, disco, etc.). And in terms how people generally perform said music, I think it generally is just not as good, not as deep and focussed, there is a lot lower standard. It doesn’t have as much feel in the groove, rhythm and phrasing, the sense of tunefulness and time, and especially amongst younger people, there actually does seem to be less skill and musical knowledge, let alone good feel. And the song-writing tends towards distinctly bland, lyrics abysmally empty and vision-less. Of course there some exceptions here and there, in the smaller scenes, traditional blues-based scenes and so on.

        Again, I think there are missing elements that aren’t being transmitted down as they were, things that are harder to quantify, of visualizing and executing the shapes of phrases, different subtleties and degrees of groove, feelings, ‘it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing’, ‘make it funky, hit it’, etc. And I don’t think it’s just a case of golden-age nostalgia or illusion, it’s just that overall it seems that say things meant to be ‘funky’ aren’t nearly as funky, things meant to be swinging are nowhere near, the soulful singing isn’t nearly as spine-tingling, the wailing solos aren’t as spiritually deep and searching, folk type strumming flow not as flowing, and really, singing overall just not as solid, not in the pocket.

        And I don’t think it’s a case that it’s not happening because people don’t have access to formal education. While music education can be good, learning jazz harmony really quickly say, it’s not necessary in the broader popular music styles, as it’s all stuff that you can learn from books, recordings, friends, on the stage, if you’re really keen to get it.
        And that’s it, I think why it’s not happening is because people just aren’t keen enough to really dig deep and spend the time to learn, woodshed and make it really happen. As I alluded to earlier, I actually think there is an arrogance amongst younger people that underestimates what music was and doesn’t realize all the was there. If it’s a folky sing-songwriter type, well they clearly aren’t sitting around all day strumming guitars the way they used to, generating amazing sense of feel and vocal tones.

        But don’t take my word for it, just go cue it all up. Listen to stuff from then and from now. Just as some examples, is there anything nearly as spiritually deep and full of feeling and musical history as Jimi’s music/playing, anything like Joni with her musicality and deep lyrics, funky as say James Brown and band, p-funk, jazz singers with phrasing and singing like Sarah Vaughan, composition on the par with the whole of western classical music, and you can go on and on. There just has to be a shift, whereby mankind’s interest becomes really peaked towards music again, distractions removed, and the magic-like elements are picked up on again and further developed and then there may be some distinctly new forms of music arise, as similar to what happened in America in the 1900s.

        • I think you are making a statement about skill/musicality using very broad strokes. If you believe what you say I believe you haven’t been listening to enough music: maybe you have, but not the right ‘enough music’. It’s like saying chefs have got worse because you only eat from global fast food joints.

          And what about new forms of musical skill such as pad playing (MPC etc.), turntable mixing/scratching, synth manipulation, etc?

          There is some mind boggling skill out there, some make you twitch in your pants funk, some achingly beautiful melody and phrasing, so much talent, emotion, being passed around, you just have to find it, and it’s not that hard to find.

          • holmes

            Yes, of course there is still good stuff around, some of much I dig, but my impression (based on my knowledge, decades of experience and listening) is that even of the so-perceived ‘good’ stuff, comparatively, it tends not to be as well-honed, solid, imbued with feeling and depth, and so on, as the earlier eras. And this especially true with styles based on traditional type feels, where it sounds as though people simply don’t practice as much, or are as deeply into it. And yes, there are new techniques and focusses which are divergent from the past skill-set making direct comparisons less relevant, and feels that one could argue are actually new feels as opposed to a lack of feel. But I think the elements of real musicality remain largely unchanged: can you hold it down, keep a beat that grooves, know your stuff (theory, scales/chords, technique), sing in tune with tone, jam, improvise and so on.

            I guess the interesting thing then becomes why it is that such an observation seems to pose a threat to ‘optimistic’ types, for whom it seems really important that there is nothing at all wrong and things really are great. Isn’t it better to be aware of any potential problems in our collective scene and then work towards remedying them the best we can, change it up, educate the youth etc.?

            The context of the original article was addressing the apparent lack of quality in big-time pop music, which I think is unarguable, and which seems to be indicative of a more widespread issue, the tip of the iceberg so to speak. That the younger people tend to not be as genuinely interested, reverent and diligent in regards to music, which seems to have resulted in a sort of real lowering of the bar. And there indeed was a time when even the really popular stuff was great, as was the lesser known stuff across the bar, as I think people were generally more tuned in to music. But naturally everything in constantly changing, and the effort to change the current scene for the better is something to work towards collectively, a revival of sorts.

          • It’s refreshing to be referred to as an optimistic type. I do think you are being a little nostalgic and looking at the scene in the past through rose tinted glasses. It’s easy to look at all of the great music from the past and ignore some of the truly terrible stuff. As with many things in this day and age, over saturation distorts our views. There is just so much music, visual media, etc. that we are bombarded with, that it’s easy to be jaded by it. I don’t think the ratio of shit is greater, just the total volume of everything.

            I’m always optimistic about music, since I’ve never failed to be surprised. It never really takes too long to discover something new and inspiring (created with soul and talent) after being in a musical rut. I don’t think the bar is lowered at all, it can just be harder to see the forest for the trees now that audio and visual media is so ubiquitous.

            And going back to skill/technique (and relevant to something @Gunboat_Diplo:disqus says in a comment further down), I watched a documentary years ago that had the producer/engineer — it was a long time ago so I can’t recall exactly — that worked on Kind of Blue, and he was talking about the massive amount of tape splicing they did! I’ve listened to that album so many times, and to my ear it sounds like it was recorded live (in studio of course). Miles certainly didn’t have a problem with technique, feel, groove, etc. but it shows the way things are done these days are not so different. It’s easy to listen to an album like that and get sentimental about how much better everything used to be, yet we were being fooled all along

    • “Unfortunately, I think it goes even deeper than that and would venture to say that music on the whole, certainly newer pop music, is generally losing musicality and soul, in terms of: groove, knowledge, skill level, phrasing and feeling.”

      I just did a quick scan through my spotify playlist and found a few artists I have listened to lately — all are contemporary, many of them relatively high profile (and as far as my taste goes I would consider pop), and I think they make your argument loose a lot of traction.

      There is no particular stylistic similarities here. Just a random and broad sample of reasons why you are wrong:

      Burnt Friedman (new stuff and with Jaki Leibzeit)
      Quantic
      Herbert
      Alex Ebert
      James Blake
      Kurt Vile
      Tortoise
      Jon Hopkins
      Tune-yards
      Atom TM
      Phosphorescent
      Flying Lotus
      BadBadNotGood
      Dhafer Youssef
      The Shaolin Afronauts
      Silver Mt. Zion

      Happy listening

  • brian tester

    It seems as simple as this: investors are looking for more guaranteed returns on their investments. Pop is business.

  • partofthepuzzle

    I think there is a “dumbing down” of mainstream culture as a whole, music included. The all encompassing reach of the Internet has resulted in less regional cultural diversity and a loss of regional uniqueness. In terms of music that’s been a huge net minus. Everyone is listening to and copying the SAME stuff and, no surprise, it sounds more and more alike.

    In the 60’s and 70’s, one of the worst things any band or musician could do was to sound too much like someone else, whereas now that’s the goal. And yes, I know that canned junk has always been around but the degree of it is exponentially greater, as is are the mechanisms to achieve it.

    Another huge loss is that majority younger listeners these days aren’t anywhere near as genuinely interested in exploring music for themselves and for it’s own sake. They take what’s spoon fed and most of them have extremely narrow listening habits. Even as recently as 10 years ago most of the people in the the U.S. electronic music culture scene were familiar with many genres (several forms of house and techno, breaks, trance, etc.) but now many 20+ year olds have rarely been exposed to more than one or two genres (i.e. dubstep and trap).

    People go to huge festivals and it’s the Emperor’s New Clothes: most of the music is bland, superficial, canned and lyrically banal but they paid big bucks and they’re going to convince themselves that each band was the most amazing thing EVAH! Just read the comments on Soundcloud, where almost every track is chock full of absurd superlatives. Everybody feels a need for *everything* to be as great as the thing they read about or someone tweeted about.

    Of course all of the above is massive generalization and exceptions abound. But overwhelmingly it’s true and you know it. I’m not totally pessimistic: I think things move in cycles and this one will runs it’s course but I think it’s equally true that we have to be willing to recognize the way things are and right now ain’t one of the great peaks in popular or electronic music. We can also be thankful for the gems that still surface.

    • Polite Society

      Is it just younger listeners though? I think a majority of people of any age group only seek out a small amount of music.

      Then there are people that decide they love one particular genre, and they’ll stick with that forever, and not really deviate. Which are numerous but, still a less than common.

      Then there are many of us that go to great lengths to explore various genres and understand their roots, but we are a minority.

      I thought it would change with how easy it is to access music now, if you have a subscription to spotify or similar, suddenly you have almost endless catalogs of amazing music, yet so many people i know listen to a handful of known artists over and over again. Surely it can’t be because those are the best songs, they just have meaning to the person listening to them.

    • ceasless

      In the US you have to also understand the massive consolidation of the media outlets. There might be one or two human flesh DJs left in each large city, but chances are high that they don’t have any say over their programming.

      In turn, this homogenized media environment paints us a picture of homogenized consumers and, because in fact there is no outlet to voice our diversity, the feedback cycle continues.

      I do have a vague conspiratorial paranoia about bald Swedish satanists working for the vampires running the world to pour out brainwashed musical products to dumb us all down, but it’s too early today for me to have gotten into the good stuff.

    • I can’t agree that younger listeners are more conservative in their listening tastes now versus the past. I think we all listened to chart music as young teens, for me it was Depeche Mode, Human League, Heaven17 … but it was chart music. It was what was easilly available to me in the smal local record shop. These days I see plenty of youth in the comment sections of youtube on 30 year old tracks “I’m 14 and I love this”. Obviously enjoying a wider range of music than they are being sold.

      I’m constantly surprised by teens in real life who somehow have a knowledge of old semi-obscure band back-catalogues. . So I think the opposite to you – I think modern youth has the awareness of a broad range of music, but unfortunately their popular representation is merely of their mainstream . I feel that the mainstream in general is narrowing and many more people now inhabit the cultural periphery.

      Image related, it’s me.

      http://data.whicdn.com/images/63620559/large.png

  • Allen Starr

    Nice try, but pop music is now complete bollocks.

  • kuehnl

    Pretty sure Imogen Heap actually WON a Grammy a few years back…

  • Florian Krause

    To me, music is not getting more dumb or too loud or any of that. To me music is simply getting boring. Music is about emotions and I just don’t feel most of the new music anymore. It is as simple as that. New music doesn’t excite me as much anymore and it is also not supposed to. Everything nowadays is very streamlined to be played on the radio between all the other streamlined songs, without by significant outliers. All of that music can run in the background without being noticed much. Like elevator music.Now you can of course say that this has to do with me getting older and not identifying with the current artists anymore, and you are probably right, that is certainly a factor. On the other hand, though,once in a while I still do find music from more contemporary artists that I do feel. It is just much rarer than it used to be.

    • Polite Society

      Look deeper. There is amazing music coming out every day of every imaginable type, and types you haven’t yet imagined.

      • foljs

        It’s a postmodern world. As in literature, cinema, comics etc, all the major forms have been already invented. The “not yet imagined” stuff is just variations on a theme. Dubstep, for example was supposedly a “new” genre”, but it’s nothing as new as the invention of techno/house etc. It just followed a line from garage, 2step etc. Same for other new genres. In fact, if you could already have an album full of samples, or white noise back in 1980, there’s not much that can be considered “new” anymore.

        • Polite Society

          Doesn’t have to be new. The world is vast. There are many things you haven’t yet discovered.

        • Martin Zimmermann

          No No No….this sounds like the Fukuyama’s “End of History” bullshit which was proved by now that it’s a bullshit…..Humanity goes on…this is one of my favorite Song titles which played by Branford Marsalis: The beautiful ones are not yet born

          • foljs

            “””Νo No No….this sounds like the Fukuyama’s “End of History” bullshit which was proved by now that it’s a bullshit…..”””

            Well, the idea of post-modernism is much older than Fukuyama’s End of History. And it has been proven increasingly true.

            Humanity might go on, but invention of new music genres (rock, surf, punk, metal, disco, soul, funk, techno, ambient, etc) depended on there being different concrete genres with somewhat respected boundaries, and there being some things you “just don’t do”.

            Ever since the ’80s but even more so after ’90s with easy access to samples, and then after ’00s where internet made possible for everyone to listen quickly to any music ever recorded, this has stopped.

            You can now do more or less anything in any form (have heavy metal guitars in electronic pop songs like KLF, have abstract electronic drones in hip hop like Kanye, etc — and those are just mainstream examples). When you can have any musical /production idea, in any kind of song, and it doesn’t shock anybody, there are no more genres, just microvariations. That doesn’t mean that new music and great songs can’t be written. Just that they wont be some alien new genre that will take the world by storm, like rock’n’roll once was, techno was at another time, punk, etc.

            It’s ironic that you mention Branford Marsalis because he is the perfect expression of that: a traditionalist, accused by other jazz players of sticking to the past.

          • Martin Zimmermann

            It’s pretty hard if not impossible to predict what future will bring and sorry.,,but it does not seem to me realistic to say something like “there won’t be any new Genre(s)”. Let’s don’t get lost in the details…..Fact is Future is unknown!…..

            Because of Marsalis…. I just wanted to use one of the titles from him to highlight the idea about the future and future of the music in general. I did not know that he was traditionalist….but I know that he is a good musician. Anyway I think this is a discussion which easily go beyond the music in regards to future….I give you somehow right that for now it seems quite hard to imagine any new Genre that can take the world in storm….but whatever takes the world in storm is actually falls into being a pop culture. And I think new things don’t come out of pop culture…..I think I spoke enough bla bla about this….I think CDM should ask this question also to high profile Artists….It would be interesting what they think about it. Cheers

    • Martin Zimmermann

      “On the other hand, though,once in a while I still do find music from
      more contemporary artists that I do feel. It is just much rarer than it
      used to be.”

      No it’s just an opposite actually….not rarer….there are immense lots of new stuff different stuff interesting stuff coming from around the world. I think it’s because now music making tools are much more accessible to anyone at much lower costs. This has a consequence of course…so forget about those big labels of 80’s 90’s….probably it’s not wrong to state pop music is dead….it’s almost dead I mean with pop music a good music….like you know…do I have to count the name of bands from 80’s?….anyway now you don’t have that much names in pop music.

      Now for the consumer & listener there is much more home work to do….You have to look for the good music, you need to be more active….there are no big labels that bring it to you through commercial channels like MTV or some popular radio channel….There is no more Michael Jackson, Madonna, Depeche Mode, George Michael……etc etc any more.

      As anything….music is also evolving…now more rapidly because more people are contributing to it…..Catch Up! or Ketchup(remember the joke from Pulp Fiction Hah)…..

      I would suggest you to check the The Wire Magazines year End list….it’s kind of best of year list…..you will certainly find some interesting & good stuff there, contemporary or not…..There are also other great sources, magazines for catching up ….but for now just start with The Wire.

      But then I don’t know how much you expect from the Music as an Art…..may be the things I suggest are not suitable for you…..

      At the moment I dig names like, Pan Sonic, Ryoji Ikeda(not only Music), Mark Fell, Merzbow, Fennesz, Jim O’Rourke ……….etc etc etc……there are hundreds…..thousands….amazing artists everywhere…..

      As the other commenter said….yes there is amazing music coming, types and styles you have not yet imagined of…..I’m sure now it’s much more than 10 years ago….

      • Florian Krause

        I agree that there is still good music around, no question about that. The problem, as you mentioned already, is that the now easy access to music production tools has led to a flood of music, which decreased the overall quality. A lot of this stuff also gets through to mainstream media. The consequence is indeed that finding nice music is much more difficult nowadays, since you have to work through so much stuff and filter.

        • I don’t think that the overall quality has been decreasing. It is now more difficult to find the “gems” that you like, because there is not the same curation going on as it was in the past, where record labels (despite wanting to earn money, of course) also did a great job in filtering out all the stuff that wouldn’t cut it anyway. But I do not believe that there were fewer people having music in their minds and hands in the past. They just didn’t make it into the public back then.

        • Jakub

          With flood of music, overall quality decreased, but it also leads to bigger amount of good and amazing music I believe. Easy and inexpensive access to music technology and free access to huge knowledge base encourages people to make music, and so many talented and creative people start making music – many of them would probably wouldn’t do that 20 years ago when even very basic 4 track recording required quite big money to start with, and when getting to know how to record or mix was far more difficult than typing google query.
          Music universe expanded wildly in last years – one can happily ignore all pop artists and rock stars etc and there is still lots of good music and quite working social network stuff to discover it. There is so much new great music that one is not physically able to listen to it, even within narrowed scope of single genre.
          (Writing this on lunch break where they play cd with 80’s Italian hits)

  • Bob

    Fantastic read!

    I remember in the late 80s declaring to my friends that popular music was dead… and I meant it. In the face of the barrage of Stock, Aitken & Waterman drivel, I felt that pop had reached a point from which it would never, ever recover. I was naive.

    Along came grunge and the “alternative” scene.

    Don’t underestimate the influence of musical “movements” and the changing of the guard. As new generations dismiss what is current in favour of what’s underground, which in-turn becomes what’s current, and the cycle continues, we’ll see “pop” as exists today replaced with something different. Guitars will replace synths and “beats”, synth and “beats” will replace guitars. Meaningful lyrics will replace insipid nonsense, and then back again. On and on and on, over and over and over again.

    My point is, today we’re at the very apex of pop at it’s most bubblegum and empty. But it will change, just as it has so many times before.

  • Polite Society

    I don’t think it’s really any different, the music made by major labels via collaborations of their stables of artists have always been based around easily digestible repetitive themes that reflect the zeitgeist of popular music. Amongst those pop mainstays various years have a number of breakthrough artists, which over time are added to those pop hits, and makes it look in hindsight like there was more variation.

    Pop music has evolved, but i don’t think that hits by current pop stars are any more or less vapid than pop hits from the last decade or the 80’s or 90’s.

    The whole brainwashing thing does interest me, because it’s true that the catchy pop song that drove you nuts when it was played a thousand times becomes as weird guilty pleasure 5-10 years after the fact and reminds you of times past. That song you heard every time you went to that club that’s now closed, now fondly remembered. Is it brainwashing though?

  • erikgustavkalle

    Well written Peter! Pop music is so much more than music, its not fair to take the music out of context and rant about it. Simple and stupid can indeed act as qualities, as well as heavy compression.

  • Freeks

    I would argue that electronic is getting dumber if that is even possible. Ableton temple business is growing. Nobody can’t even count how many tutors there are who teach you to do THAT bass for a fee.

    That video was just dumb. Why the examples were all women?
    I think that guy should be sentenced to one year of 24/7 Rick Astley. After that he would kill for some Kesha.

    • What’s wrong with Rick Astley?

  • Jon Benderr

    I’ve seen these “pop music is making people dumb” articles floating around for awhile.

    I think pop music and the industry is just a reflection of what people want. In other words, pop music doesn’t make people dumb as much as dumb people enable pop music.

    I’m not talking about completely dumb people, just musically dumb.

    The thing we have to realize is there are a lot of people who would never even hear music if it wasn’t for the fact that they needed something to break the silence while they ride in their car on their way to work. For a lot of people in these scenarios there isn’t a whole lot of room for complexity.

    Music has always been a reflection of the current state of things, not a cause,

  • nothingnatural

    I have this nightmare, based on my younger years, of being stuck in keg line at a party with this sort of guy, who is ranting to me about this very topic. Do I want beer badly enough that I’m willing to endure a diatribe about how awful popular music is when compared to 70s prog rock? I may have back then, but I have stopped drinking as much these days and I’ve no patience for these arguments anymore.

    The same argument has been made for the entire history of popular music and has all sorts of dimensions: race, class, education level, gender, etc. It’s high art vs low art, classical vs folk music, abstract form vs cultural function, though it always ignores the value judgements inherent in its claims. It is always disguised as an objective, quantifiable thing rather than a subjective opinion.

    Chaircrusher said it best, earlier in this thread: “Sneering at pop music is ultimately a shallow, pointless exercise in unearned snobbery.”

    We get it, my guy: You are better than the masses for your appreciation of a certain thing. Now let me get at that keg, already.

    • edisonSF

      thank you! amazing comment… how can anyone define whats good and correct, for an undefinably moving thing? presently people have the ability to call up and listen to anything brand new, along with almost anything ever recorded… people are still listening to pop music, just like always. horrible techno is back in the worst way. people are choosing it. it comes down to “who cares what other people are doing with their time and ears?” in the end it doesn’t really affect you, so ignore it. basically this guy in the video is mad about people making things, it’s seriously pointless.

  • Sven Syntetics

    Pop,

    Pop,
    Pop – Pop Music. This is a nice View with many facts i can follow, but
    as ever there is the Big BUT. All the Time there was released populare
    music beside music which which is different than regular popmusic. I
    also think that we live in a time which is very conservative and you see
    this in the Music which sells very good, popular uniformity…..musical
    and watching the Billboard we are somewhere in the 50s or 80s. But Time
    will change, there will be a time in which we will
    discover new Artist who have the creative Power of Pink Floyd, The
    Beatles, Rolling Stones, Genesis, Bob Dylan etc. We will not know what
    this Music will Sound like, but the Policy Maker in Musicbiz will
    realize that alll this candypop will not sell as good as this New Wave
    floating the Market by little Companys and change very fast the
    mind….Cause it is like Zappa say in the Interview refer to
    Musicmanager: I don’t understand what you do but i see that people are
    willing to buy this crap…so let’s do it…., and this is not a
    question of age like Zappa say. It is a question of sells. I think the
    Times in which Music sells which has not a regular popular print are
    very short in time…It is Tom Jones time not Tom Waits…and this means
    the image they stand for…. The 60’s, what means that Bands who
    experiment will get a deal will come again, which music they will do:
    you don’t know and the most will not understand the language, watch the
    videos of people listening the first time Dylan plays electric guitar,
    cause even he was bored by this folkmusicstamp, a lot of people in the
    audience were not happy. But never forget the Buissnes Side: Ahmet
    Ertegun big Musicmanager, Chief of Atlantic Records, a Guy who make a
    lot of People famous was asked about Genesis he brought to America in
    Retropespective: I knew i had a good Band but i just wanted one: Phil
    Collins. And it is not about if Phil Collins do good or bad music, for
    Ahmet Ertegun it was just about that Phill Collins sells much better
    than Genesis… It is about Money not about Art. It is called Musicbiz
    not “who has got the best Taste in Music”.

  • misksound

    listen to a piece of music you don’t like until you figure out *why* you dislike it!

  • Axel

    Let me just say one word: Autotune.
    Thank you.

    • Gunboat_Diplo

      they’ve had pitch correction since the late 80s. so it’s not Autotune’s fault. and back in the beatle’s days, they would just turn the tape down to sing in tune. Can’t play the ‘harpsicord’ solo to In My Life? Just halve the speed! Studio Trickery has been around forever; just like all recording tech, it’s just becoming more democratized.

      • Axel

        Ha. I knew one word wouldn’t be enough. I’ll make two statements: 1. Autotune sucks the life out of a voice. It makes a singer sound less human and more machine-like.
        2. Autotune has been established as one of the most important tools for treating voice in pop music. When I switch on the radio I hear it. When I keep listening (and I rarely do) I can hear its typical soullessness in about 80-90% of the music. It is disturbing.

        • What if that was a means for artistic expression? I won’t say every producer who uses Autotune is looking for that, but it doesn’t change the fact that you can use every tool in an artistically meaningful or at least purposeful way. It is not the fault of the tool if it is used in a boring way.

          • Axel

            I agree with you 100%. However, my point isn’t that Autotune is Satan’s invention (that’s for another discussion :-)). My point is that it is used in mainstream pop (that’s the topic!) to homogenize the human voice. Just as artificial flavor enhancers, antibiotics etc are used to make mass food production more convenient at a huge cost in taste, health etc, Autotune is used to make mass music production more conventient at a huge cost… Oh, and both are of course also just symptoms of even deeper issues.

        • NRGuest

          You’re complaining about machine-like vocals on a site dedicated to electronic music?

  • JohnMcQ

    To paraphrase Scoop Nisker, ‘If you don’t like the music, go out and make some of your own’. It’s never been easier. And if you’re not inspired by todays music listen to something from 20 years ago or 50 years ago or 500 years ago, or maybe 5,000 years ago – Google ‘diye aka pygmies’ – I just heard it for the first time the other day and my mind was blown.

  • It feels funny to read your article while listening to Wild Beasts (whom I consider a band that makes very intelligently composed, performed and produced pop music, far away from radio mainstream, but accessible enough to fill big venues everywhere) and just having been at a Jessy Lanza concert the other day (whose 2013 album is one of the most “quiet” not compressed and not brickwall limited pop and R’n’B inspired albums of recent years.)
    Point being: There is so much pop music (or pop-inspired music, if you want) out there that it is truly not fair to say that pop music is getting dumber and dumber.

    I am 46, and I discover new music every year that amazes and inspires me, just like I alway felt ever since I purchased my very first 7″ single in 1981 (which I still have, btw.) And I am falling into that nostalgia trap too, ever so often. Just listening to the charts music I liked (which is obviously just a small excerpt of what happened in the charts) in the 1980s makes me feel like “everything was better back in the days”. Truth is: It was not. It just feels like it, because I only listen to the songs I liked back then and that make me feel nostalgic and sentimental. And as much as I do with pop music today that I don’t like to listen to – I avoid the rubbish from back then too, of course!

  • Foosnark

    I agree with the whole article. I still hate most Top 40 stuff now anyway, but recognize that as mostly personal preference.

    My dad kind of made this point to me once, at least where it comes to lyrics. “Today’s music is so shallow. Back in my day we had meaningful lyrics, like ‘who put the bomp in the in the bomp shoo bop shoo bop.'”

    I also recognize that the 70s-80s pop that I like today isn’t entirely representative of what people were listening to when it was new, some of it I like simply because of nostalgia rather than actual quality, and those decades were also full of bad pop music. 🙂

    I feel like there’s a process of homogenization that happens in music genres; they start out fairly diverse and creative but tend toward a mean over time. Then eventually something breaks out and it becomes a new genre or subgenre, and the process repeats.

  • NRGuest

    Speaking of the “state of music”, whatever happened to that form you had on this site for people to submit their best picks of 2015? Wouldn’t that be a bit of an antidote to the: “All new music sucks” line of thinking?

  • yoni newman

    I really dislike this particular flavour of rant. It’s basically a way for men of a certain age to bitch at a changing world they are uncomfortable with because it’s leaving them and their values behind. Come on! it’s 2016, there’s internet, If pop music sucks, fine. There’s never been so much music produced at once, and it’s never been easier to find out about and aquire. And much of it is absolutely new, and fascinating and complex enough to teach you a thing or two about aesthetics. Lift a sore finger, angry white guy, and type your way to any number of online publications. Music is as healthy, vibrant, and as exciting as it’s ever been. More so, I’d argue, But hey, you don’t like taylor Swift, so we’re all going to hell. someone get this man baby a pacifier.

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  • Narudh Areesorn

    i stopped reading after the first point. i mean for fucks sake, some of the chart toppers last year include lyrics such as:
    “Is it weird that your ass / Remind me of a Kanye West song? Is it weird that I hear/ Trumpets when you’re turning me on? / Is it weird that your bra / Remind me of a Katy Perry song?”
    or
    “I really really really really really really like you / And I want you, do you want me, do you want me, too?”
    new lows definitely

  • Narudh Areesorn

    to contribute something to the discussion, i think it’s clear that the “pop music” top 40 charts stuff is DEFINITELY a lot worse. it HAS to be that way, there’s no other way, and the answer is very simple: the economics of the recording industry changed. BIG TIME.

    recording industry used to be dominated by incumbent labels holding absolute power, unlimited funds, monopoly to production and distribution. legendary bands were not independents but mainstream.

    then the internet happened. competition happened. production cost is now gravitating towards 0 (apart form labor), anyone can produce. distribution (fixed) cost is also gravitating towards 0. yet, people pirate and / or stream more.

    so when sales drop, costs are cut, quality is compromised, in a vicious cycle, and the industry dies, while new industries, namely indie bands, rise up to fill its place. i mean, i think it’s now even useless to talk about “pop”. indie is mainstream. and the music industry is one industry. “pop music” is no longer relevant. so let’s stop treating it as so.

  • BEN LEVIN

    kids vastly today have not carried the torch on this type of incendiary playing of a Zep, or Deep Purple, or Floyd, or Yes, or Eagles, Fleetwood Mac (Black Crowes managed to) playing simply because of underexposure and vast amounts of awfulness and mediocrity in music space,culture. It is the generation partly at fault. How can you like YEs and Fall Out Boy,. That musician will never make great music, that musicians will not show up to rehearsal and know how to play rote classic rock classics bass lines or Motown. Also music education being cut out of schools. The cats from the 50;s and 60;s honed their chops on these early rock standards and it fueled them do do something their own. Social networking and streaming ensure that a whole lot of awfulness and mediocrity is available 24/7. There are too many touch points for music and nobody filtering or organizing it. For ie, taking it further, you can to to Warner label site, and look at their artists on the front page, its organized so poorly you have no idea what any of these artiots are about and how they fit in to the label the way its organized at the site.

    The musicians who can play like this today are over 40, and rock in obscurity in their homes. While age is not an obstacle in rock and music, even more so today (and these 20’s yr old in Deep Purple looked 40 anyway). The problem is the there is no glue or scene developing to bringing these musicians together, and an industry to support and develop it is absent (they deem to too risky, because the promotion budget has to be spent and is cost intensive these days, they justify) and a little thing called work gets in the way.The real musicians w wealth, taste and touch are over 40. There you have it. Back then the incendiary players were 20 and they was a thriving scene and cauldron for musicianship and Britain imported alot of it and was seen as a competition, it was national pride. They should make Paisly Park compound a breeding ground for ringer musicians who also compose. Anyway, in the meantime seek out musicians and play locally on weekends.. Great bands are composed of great talent, across the board. Too many bands start with band members who don’t compose or have uneven level of skill and raw talent. Statistically, bands that stuck around the longest and affected the most people w their music and had more hit songs were bands where everyone contributed and where the talent level was high throughout. Very rarery does one band member write really all the songs. The Who is one of them. Rarely do bands who form as friends or family are great, Sometimes it happens: Allman Brothers Band, Lynrd Skynrd, Black Crowes. Music is not evolving, it is not a subconscious force evolving. It is physics; fingers hitting strings or drums, and creativity of those players.

  • Tyreseus

    When internet geeks with Asian fetishes think, it is scary the world they want us to live in. The scariest part of your article is the idea that a bunch of Koreans are going to top the charts in America and the UK. The only reason Gangnam style or whatever gay ass song that was, was viewed so many times because it has a fat little Korean dancing like horse galloping and a bunch of hot Korean women, whom after years of plastic surgery look something white, that seem to dig this fat little Korean. In other words, it’s a joke song; I’m sure rebekkah black got more hits than most artists, is that now the new trend in music?

    More generally, millenials like yourself have perfected the archetype of, “Shill.” Meaning a voice trying to look independent but with no other goal than to serve the interests of their overlords. Millenials, like yourself, should really start looking in the mirror and develop a soul; whatever previous generations called my generation, they never called us a bunch of pussies and that should be a concern for you internet mellenial geeks ruining America. I hope Trump does win so he can enlist the draft and toss you pussies into a war sitaution, be a man or die produced some great Americans; we need another compulsory war about now.