The problem with today’s popular music

popular music 2015

This goes beyond the household names of pop.

The state of popular music today is quite grim. Rock music used to be tall and mighty, as it dominated the mainstream. That changed during the current decade, when post-grunge was dying and EDM was on the rise. Nowadays the music industry is in complete and utter shambles, the LP itself is on life support, and the airwaves are now dominated by a horde of endlessly derivative EDM, pop, rap, R&B and boy band singles, pushing pure rock music further into the underground. Nowadays, whenever somebody thinks of rock music, it’s likely that they’re only thinking about either “classic rock” bands like Black Sabbath, Queen, AC/DC, Guns n’ Roses and Kiss, or one of those god-forsaken post-grunge bands that killed rock in the first place.

The current musical climate emerged as post-grunge still dominated the airwaves. In the 2000’s, bands like Nickelback and Creed had numerous hit singles and were among the most popular rock bands of the time (despite that they were actually terrible bands playing neutered grunge music). Then, as Lady Gaga’s increasing popularity brought dance-pop back into the mainstream, post-grunge itself became as dead as disco, but because it had taken over mainstream rock as thoroughly as it did (and thus alter the mainstream perception of rock), rock itself was taken down with it, thereby losing its place in the mainstream. Currently, the situation is so bad that only a handful of newer rock bands sell (and some actually make it to the charts), and even they are still consistently eclipsed by the plethora of trashy electronic pop/rap/dance music that clogs up the charts.

A big problem I have with modern music is that each new song that comes out on the radio sounds a lot like what was already on the radio some months before. It’s because the biggest-selling acts are hopelessly derivative of pop music clichés, but it’s also because today’s pop musicians have a habit of relying on digital software such as Auto-Tune. Also, pretty much all pop stars write and sing about the exact same things. Thirty years ago, you had various artists singing about a wider, often deeper range of subject matter (unless you were listening to typical 80’s pop). Nowadays, all everyone can think to sing about is love, sex, partying, and the upsides of life. As boring and shallow as it is, it’s also painful and often depressing to hear pop stars warble about some vapid fantasy yarn they call life.

Perhaps the bland, robotic pop music that have today is emblematic of the digital age. Nowadays, nearly all music is completely digital, and the music industry is regressing from being album-oriented to being single-oriented, just as it was back in the 1950’s, and even that won’t save it from the collapse that was pretty much brought about by the Internet age. Of course, I’m aware that the music industry is constantly changing, and what’s popular or unpopular now won’t stay that way in the future, but the future for the music industry still remains bleak for now, and only time will tell what kind of godforsaken pop will come out in the future.

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4 thoughts on “The problem with today’s popular music

  1. I find a lot of modern pop singers are less interested in making creative music than making money. I read an interview with a famous American pop star who stated that she was not going to keep making music because she would not become a billionaire, saying that happens by investing money. I have also heard that a lot of modern songs are written by a large amount of people. This suggests to me that the music industry is less willing to produce personal, creative music, but is populated by people wanting to make as much money as possible. I also wonder if a lot of British pop singers consider music as a way to enter the celebrity industry. Many of them produce a few number one songs, then quickly become TV presenters, reality TV stars, comedy panellists or just people who stay famous, despite not doing anything memorable for years.

    • That’s exactly what I think is going on. Today’s musicians don’t give a damn about art as long as there’s money to be had. The last thing we need are more one-note celebrities crowding and poisoning young minds and destroying what’s left of our culture.

      • I find the media helps these people as well. Many newspapers and TV programmes praise these pop stars for their business skills (seemingly more than their creativity) and ability to promote themselves. This effect seems to spread to other creative professions. British comedies seem to mostly consist of comedy game shows and panel shows, which seems to also be a way to promote various celebrities, particularly ones that rely on constant promotion to maintain a career.

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