Monday, March 24, 2008

My Rant on Pop Music by Daniel Victor

Well you know from time to time I like to put things I find interesting from others blogs and I found this amazing. I hope you enjoy it :)

My Rant On Pop Music

I was updating my iPod today and I noticed something. As I dragged and dropped piles of definitive songs from each era of music, it dawned on me that the quality of the song itself seems to be going down the (you)tubes. I figured this subject matter deserved a rant, so I’m sharing these thoughts with you.

I started out uploading 80’s pop(ular)music, as I was listening through old catalogues of songs I’ve collected, I realized how much I had forgotten just how fucking great these tunes were! As songs (production aside, that’s another blog all together) they were just well written, definitive and memorable, not because the radio played them to death to force them to be, but on their own merit.

Then, I went into my 90’s hits collection. Here’s where I came into adolescence, so it took me back to a special place personally. But, the quality was great, really. Though, in a way, there was something the music was getting a bit simpler and predictable, almost a bit dumbed down. There were still classics, and some amazing work, but as a whole, you could see something happening.

Then, oh my god. I got into my 00’s hits collection, and it finally got me, because I could compare these modern songs to those of yesteryear directly. Music, at least from 2000-2005, was pretty bad. I don’t remember it being bad, but you have to actually compare to see. I could barely find a handful of good hits in this batch at all! The music just seemed to be so much less enjoyable.

Here’s where i stopped and thought. Maybe I’m getting old (probably not cause I’m young and listen to everything), or maybe I’m just falling into that "the kids nowadays don’t know good music" old guy rant thing. And I realized, there’s an exact reason for it all.

Our current generation is just producing a lot of bad music for a number of reasons. First off, everything is everywhere. Pick up an indie magazine and read the reviews, there are hundreds and hundreds of under the radar bands from all over the place releasing albums. How many CD’s do you think Pitchforkmedia gets every month. Way too many to review. Recording costs are low now because of hard disc recording, and anyone can make a laptop record and be the next indie star. So again, here’s where selection can hurt and help us. Where do we put our attention spans too? When there’s that much out there, very few stand out as life-changing and memorable. Where are the classic albums anymore, can they even be made or are they lost in a sea of a million choices for the next album of the year.

And if you don’t believe me, just take a look at all the new genres out there now. What are we at, "Post-Post-Post-Rock now?

So if anyone can really make an album nowadays, are there more geniuses out there, or more morons?

Indie is rampant. And I love it. But it makes you think for a second. Back in the day, you had to be good. A big record company would sign you and work you on a big album. There was so much more quality, and time, and input put in, in a lot of ways. Do we have a Pink Floyd these days? A Zeppelin? An Elvis? A Queen? (oh how i wish on that last one). Do we even have a George Michael or Phil Collins?

Radio these days is dead. It’s not what it used to be. Selection is in the hands of the online users. Youtube your favourite video. Download and make a mixtape of what you want. Why turn the old fashion radio on...Internet radio alone has a million stations you can tune into if you wanted to. Besides, the iPod is on shuffle right now so you can DJ yourself.

The state of our world is a mess. We all know this.

The fact that our culture has been dumbed down over the years means the kids growing up each generation have it worse and worse.

Let’s put this into perspective for you:

When my parents were born in 1950, they grew up on Elvis, The Beatles, and a thousand other amazing bands. My 80’s was their 50’s, and my 90’s, was their 60’s. I can only imagine my grandfather in Italy who listened to all the traditional music (no lie his favourite song was O Solo Mio) probably said to my dad when he was jamming out to House of the Rising Sun in his bedroom. "What is this music all about....noise?" You know the story.

Each generation has an attachment to their era’s music, obviously. I grew up in the 80’s and when I blasted hair metal my dad wasn’t most pleased at the sound. He brought me to his record collection and showed me what music was ’supposed to sound like’. I suppose in the same way his father showed him his old traditional folk music, and recited the same words. So, when I have MY kids, will I do the same and bust out some classic tunes from my era? Yeah, probably.

Point is, this is going to continue forever. But if you sit back and look, there’s is a HUGE decline in the quality of ALL the music, whichever generation your from. (Sidenote* I mainly mean Pop Music by example, the music the defines the eras and garnishes the exposure that we remember it for). The 50’s and 60’s were definatly a mecca. I mean, just watch Across The Universe and listen to the beauty in The Beatles songs alone. And that’s just ONE band. Where is that today? Nowhere. Go back further. Traditional music is definately beautiful, I know a lot of songs from my background and I love many of them. Even further though, to classical music. This WAS music. Pop music isn’t supposed to be.

If you want to get up to speed with this, read Theodore Adorno’s On Popular Music essay. He was a philosopher who wrote a theory about how the real music, (termed ’serious’ referring to classical) was becoming less accepted by the rising popularity of popular music (then probably jazz). I’ve mention the concept of Standardization before, where basically you can take any pop song and replace it with know, verse chorus, verse, arrangement, etc. (see any Nickelback song). Now I’m not going to go back in time and promote classical music. I like it, but it’s not actually what does it for me. I’m just trying to make an example of what I realized’s been going on for years. I like standardized music if its pleasing to the ear like the next guy. But even that is on its decline for the worse.

Let’s take a look at where we are now:

Not only is there a lot of product in the market, and radio is not key anymore, video neither, but the music itself has just become dumb. Flat out. Is Hip-Hop intelligent anymore? Do you even hear ballads on the radio? Do you hear anything in Pop Culture that is meant to take time to process and reveal itself? Certainly not. I had a feeling things were getting bad when Rap-Metal made its way onto the scene in the late 90’s. I was getting ready to check out. Early emo at that time was actually pretty decent (and if your under 25 you probably don’t know what I mean, but early JEW, Further Seems Forever, Elliott, and of course Far), but music just started a long fall off a high cliff. And today? "Smack That and My Humps" are two recent examples of the wow-factor in Hip Hop. Rock? Well I don’t have to name names here. Other genres? They’re all dried up.

So what do we do? We go underground - and find some absolute gems! Some of those gems end up in turn become mainstream (Interpol, Arcade Fire), but again, because of so much content, we run into the lost-at-sea problem with choice. A whole bunch of waves, but nothing tidal. So, its not a complete solution. In fact, there really isn’t one.

Now, go turn on the TV and see what our culture is doing to mirror this. Reality tv shows up the waazoo! What the fuck is Flava Of Love? It isn’t making you people any smarter. Entertaining? Only in analyzing it. Even in posting a simple blog like this, I doubt many of my fans (and I do love you, you know this) probably just won’t care. It’s not your fault. It’s your culture’s fault for raising you on so much fluff.

The Internet generation coming up now don’t even know anything other than downloading, as I’ve said before....So I don’t think they morally even think its stealing. It’s normal. I’ve accepted that the music industry, at least for CD buying is fucking over. That’s a reality. But I just wish people were smarter these days as a whole. The invasive propaganda usage of your TV, which sits right in your homes, has really aided in our slow steady decline of culture. That is all related to where hit music is today.

Dumber pop culture = dumber people = dumber pop music, etc...

Anyway, long story short - popular music (in comparison to years back) just seems pretty bad. I don’t know what to do about it except just keep watching everything get worse, and keep scouring for some worthwhile material (not based on indie coolness or cred, but that stands up on its own). Maybe once we finish this decade off, the 10’s will usher in something good again. We need it badly.

Now back to my Xbox, Messenger, TV, iPod, and streaming online video, all simultaenously running.

No lie.


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