PDA

View Full Version : When did it become acceptible for pop music to sound so uninspired?


SqrlCub
08-30-2001, 09:53 AM
I repeatedly turn on the radio and flip through the stations and all I hear is lyrics that are completely mundane like "I went to the laundromat" and other such innaneness. This says nothing to the lack of innovation bands have been producing lately. Everything on the radio sounds practically alike similar rhythms, similar chord progressions, even singers that sound basically alike (for each given genre of pop music that is).

Sigh, if only I didn't scare away musicians whom I have auditioned (basically because they want to play in bands that sound like the above).

HUGS!
Sqrl

xizor
08-30-2001, 10:07 AM
You could try switching away from a top 40 station. I have noticed your observation in "pop" music. Sure it has always been basically that way, but with all the boy bands nad tennage girl singers, they are getting even musically indistinguishable. The alternative rock station I listened to does not seem to suffer from this problem. Also college stations in general seem to play music with more cerebral lyrics.

Legomancer
08-30-2001, 10:14 AM
I guess it depends on point of view. My local "alternative" station sounds cookie-cutter to me as well. I either have some guy moaning at me or some guy screaming at me. This is supposed to be the progessive stuff, but it's either:

RAGE RAGE YELL RAGE MOTHA____ER RAGE YELL SCREAM ANGST ANGST

or

NYYYRUGH MMRNNH HRMMM YYYRRRRANNN MMMRRRRAAAANNNN GGGRRRNNNNHHH

I can't listen to internet radio at work, so my only solution is to bring my own music, which I do tend to vary.

Top 40 radio has never been known for its eclectic nature, and has no reason to change.

SqrlCub
08-30-2001, 10:18 AM
I don't listen to top 40 radio for the most part. I listen to oldies, classical, and NPR stations mostly and when I am riding in a car with someone else who listens to pop music (be it alternative, boy/girl band pop, or whatever) it all tends to sound as vapid as the next.

HUGS!
Sqrl

Stella*Fantasia
08-30-2001, 10:21 AM
Legomancer is correct. There used to be this cool station in the Baltimore/DC area called WHFS. They played all kinds of music that I liked back when I was an alternateen - U2, REM, the Cure, Violent Femmes, Nirvana, Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers...you know what I'm talking about. These days I don't even bother turning HFS on, though, because I know that whatever comes out is going to sound like Limp Bizkit.

GOD, do I hate Limp Bizkit.

Lucifer12
08-30-2001, 10:55 AM
Originally posted by Stella*Fantasia
Legomancer is correct. There used to be this cool station in the Baltimore/DC area called WHFS.

GOD, do I hate Limp Bizkit.

Oh man, I used to love HFS (and the Weasel)!

That was back in the late 80's/early 90's, just before you little altern-a-teens started clogging the airwaves with mainstream 'alternative' bands.

I will never forgive you all for Bush and Oasis. : 0

And I'll agree with yer assesment of Limp Korn Bizkit. Slipknot, Staind, etc. all sound like the same band: a second-rate Rage Against The Machine cover band. At least those guys are articulate and give legitimate reasons to be full of, well, rage!

I haven't listened to radio at all since then, except for NPR once in awhile when I'm driving. Nowadays, I rely on my 20 gig MP3 drive, which is better than any radio station. Man, I got everything from Sonny Rollins to Handel to Devo to White Stripes...I love my music cube!

As far as the OP goes, I know what you mean: what happened to intelligent or irreverent pop? Where are the Burt Bacharachs or Trashmen of today? Even in the 40's & 50's, a screwball like Spike Jones could have a decent number of hits. Today, I think, it's just plain money. You have all the radio stations and record companies both owned by Pepsi or Disney or whatever, and they're not going to take a chance on some new pop artist that isn't guaranteed to make x amount of money. They need something that's going to appeal to the most teens/young adults possible. Anything that strays away from their target markets most prurient interest isn't even going to make it through preliminary consideration.

Lights out guerrilla radio
Turn that shit up!

Acco40
08-30-2001, 11:07 AM
Originally posted by Lucifer12:

I will never forgive you all for Bush and Oasis. : 0

Man, do not fuck with my Oasis. God I love Oasis.

Sorry, had to get that out.

Sqrl:

You just gotta look in the right places. The good music is out there always; sometimes it's just harder to find!

Montfort
08-30-2001, 11:11 AM
Originally posted by Acco40
Originally posted by Lucifer12:

I will never forgive you all for Bush and Oasis. : 0

Man, do not fuck with my Oasis. God I love Oasis.
Hear, hear! I love Oasis, too.

Lucifer12
08-30-2001, 11:17 AM
Originally posted by Montfort
Originally posted by Acco40
Originally posted by Lucifer12:

I will never forgive you all for Bush and Oasis. : 0

Man, do not fuck with my Oasis. God I love Oasis.
Hear, hear! I love Oasis, too.

Mmm, yeah ok. Oasis isn't that bad (not like Bush, anyway).

Sorry, I got carried away!

SqrlCub
08-30-2001, 11:18 AM
Yeah, I know good music is out there. Unfortunately most of it I think I have to make myself to sound different. :( Not to sound conceited or anything.

HUGS!
Sqrl

Tars Tarkas
08-30-2001, 11:46 AM
Mmm, yeah ok. Oasis isn't that bad.

Oh, yes they are......

Stella*Fantasia
08-30-2001, 12:15 PM
Lucifer, Weasel is still around...he does Brunch at the Archives on Sunday mornings. It only lasts about ten minutes (exaggeration - it's maybe an hour), but it's the only reason to listen to HFS anymore.

It's really too bad that it's gotten so crummy...I too remember those late 80's/early 90's years. I was in middle school & all the normals were listening to the New Kids on the Block...I was the black-clothed freakazoid listening to the Smiths. Sigh. If only HFS were still that cool. (FTR, I agree with Lucifer about Bush & Oasis.)

I mainly listen to NPR now, which makes me feel old, but everything else sounds the same.

Lucifer12
08-30-2001, 12:24 PM
Originally posted by Stella*Fantasia
Lucifer, Weasel is still around...he does Brunch at the Archives on Sunday mornings. It only lasts about ten minutes (exaggeration - it's maybe an hour), but it's the only reason to listen to HFS anymore.


Ah, good ol' Weasel! He made many a long, weary trudge around the beltway much more fun!

casdave
08-30-2001, 12:37 PM
The music industry tells us that they only sell what people will buy, but that is tosh, people are walking away in droves.

Here is why I think this,

The number of individual copies, not albums or complilations or dvd's or any other multi-artist or multi-track format, needed to get a gold disc used to be 1million, now its only 50k in the UK.

The reason is that sales are falling and the industry uses the 'gold standard' as a promotional thing to sell more or enhance the reputation of the artist, whereas when you sold a million copies that was an achievement in itself not a means of selling more.

With such small numbers of copies of a track sold, and this track can be part of a compilation such as a film soundtrack, or holiday mix soundtrack or whatever, it means that targeted marketing can have a very profound influence on the chart position of a song, one way is to heavily discount a particular song.

To maintain control over this targeted marketing the industry prepares and selects its artists very carefully, note these are not the public doing the selecting.
The result is that the artists are aimed at such a small segment of the population that they are all too similar, boy/girl bands especially.

It affects other artists who now have to hone themselves to a far narrower audiences which results in highly formulaic products and bands that are just cliches with no surprises, no exploration, no experimentation and little to say.

The sales of new music as individual copies, or single artists has never been lower in the UK yet old stuff continues to shift in shedloads.

I go into the music shops in Leeds, England and find they are all but empty during the week and jam packed with teenies at the weekend buying the latest teenie thing. Although these are major major outlets they look desparate places during normal weekdays, like closing down shops.

It used to be considered that the staying power of an artist was not in the speed their material went up the charts but how long it remained there throughout its run, Engleburt Humperdink's - 'My Way' was in the UK chart for 56 consecutive weeks in 1967 and sold humungously but nowadays a top range artist can be in, hit the top spot, and out again in less then a month so there is little chance that such a song will bind itself into the popular imagination.

Look at the album charts and the differance is even more striking, with some great ones hanging around for decades whereas the recent company products stick around about as long as a placard carrying KKK member at a Black Panther meeting.

All this is symptomatic of an industry that does not promote and sell music that inspires the public, there are exceptions of course, but it seems that by pushing to us the stuff that the music industry has manufactured rather than what we the public feels reaches our lives and inspires us, popular culture is a poorer place and sales of new music continues to fall and becomes less and less relevant.

BTW I think Oasis is terribly derivative and fomulaic, the pundits say that there are virtual Beatles rips-off among their songs but I can spot near enough copies of Kinks, and Mersey band sounds, they are nothing like as original as some folk think, they have very little wit, they have very little to say and say it badly, but they have attitude, nothing else.

pldennison
08-30-2001, 12:58 PM
Sqrl, you and I have talked about music a lot in the past, but you've never really let on as to what your tastes are in the pop realm. What songwriters and bands are up your alley in the pop world? I seek out a lot of non-major-label or -mainstream pop music, so I might be able to make some recommendations.


Lucifer12 wrote: As far as the OP goes, I know what you mean: what happened to intelligent or irreverent pop? Where are the Burt Bacharachs or Trashmen of today?

You can find a lot of bands of that nature at the Not Lame website ( http://www.notlame.com ). Also, if you have access to emusic.com , and you browse around their pop section, you can find some good stuff as well. I recently downloaded all three discs of the International Pop Overthrow from Del-Fi records and there are some real gems there. I also recently got hold of some good stuff from bands like Elf Power, Javelin Boot and the Minders.

Chez Guevara
08-30-2001, 12:58 PM
I'm usually careful when commenting on The Music Of Today. I say to myself that it's an Age Thing. There is often a tendency to promote the music of one's youth as the best there has ever been.

However, this bias aside, I think the kids of today are being ripped off with manufactured groups who can't sing the puerile lyrics that untalented writers concoct for them.

In response to the thread title, I'd say about 10-12 years ago.

SqrlCub
08-30-2001, 01:23 PM
I really like all types of music as long as it is innovative. It doesn't have to be genre redefining but they have to show creativity not rehashing the latest "hits." I even like rap but since the first invasion of rap ended (in the early 80s with RunDMC and the like) it hasn't really been too inovative; except, I would probably throw in the Digable Planets as they actually played instruments (basically they were a jazz band with rap chants about space aliens).I listen to mostly oldies now (folk rock oldies... not the oldies like Twist and Shout and Charlie Brown) as the old music was the innovative music that inspired music of today.

I like bands that are quirky.
Trout Fishing in America
Ed's Redeeming Qualities

I like bands that jam.
Greatful Dead

I like bands that give a voice to a generation.
The Beatles
The Byrds
(Nirvana to a lesser extent)

I like punk music.
The Misfits
The Queers
The Descendents

I like hardcore music.
Minor Threat (and Ian McKay's other projects)
DRI (well not so much anymore...they feel contrived now)

I like heavy metal music (Minus glam bands, if I want to see drag queens I will go to a drag show).

I like country music. (Old country, not this current version of pop country that is essentially rock music in 3/4 or 2/4 time.)

I love Bluegrass music.
I love folk music.
I love classical music.
I love weird music.
I love old music.
I love new music.

I don't really like new age music.
It feels to me this entire genre is contrived but then again I am only subjected to it on the radio so I don't suppose I have a real appreciation for it.

I despise cookie cutter music where any given band sounds exactly like the others for the genre. Boring.

HUGS!
Sqrl

Acco40
08-30-2001, 01:36 PM
Originally posted by casdave:

BTW I think Oasis is terribly derivative and fomulaic, the pundits say that there are virtual Beatles rips-off among their songs but I can spot near enough copies of Kinks, and Mersey band sounds, they are nothing like as original as some folk think, they have very little wit, they have very little to say and say it badly, but they have attitude, nothing else.

I agree with uhhhhhhhhhh... 82.6% of what you say. But they are quality. (BTW you forgot to mention Stone Roses as well). They may be formulaic... but at least it's a good formula!
This all coming from the last remaining Oasis fan in the US. Lonely me.

Anyway, I do get in the mood for something different, and when I do I go for sigor ros and air, and gorillaz too (but I hate "Clint Eastwood... go figure). That's good stuff.

But sqrl, don't expect to hear cutting edge stuff on the radio until said edge is as sharp as a bowling ball.

That's all I have to say about that.

jonfromdenver
08-30-2001, 01:58 PM
going back to the original point, i'm damn sick of this pop music crap too. but what i really don't get is all the radio stations that have been playing 80s music lately. what the hell is that? haven't we all figured out that the 80s was an abomination in all respects, especially to music and fashion?

Legomancer
08-30-2001, 02:02 PM
Actually, I like 80's music a hell of a lot more than I've liked anything since, but that's probably because that was the music from my youth.

But SqrlCub, although there's nothing wrong with anything you listed (nice to find someone else who's heard of TFIA) I can't imagine any time when you WOULD have liked radio pop music, except maybe 1968.

pldennison
08-30-2001, 02:14 PM
Originally posted by SqrlCub
I like country music. (Old country, not this current version of pop country that is essentially rock music in 3/4 or 2/4 time.)

Here, I can make some recommendations right away. I recently have been getting a lot of stuff from what they're calling Alt-Country, which is ironic because it's more like REAL country than anything you hear on country radio these days. Here are some artists I'd recommend:

Laura Cantrell. She's a longtime DJ on freeform radio station, and recently put out a terrific album called "Not The Tremblin' Kind" that reminds me a lot of early Tammy Wynette or Patsy Cline.

Geraldine Fibbers. Carla Bozulich, who used to be in the art-rock band Ethyl Meatplow, started this group, which is somewhere between punk and country.

Stacey Earle. Sister of author/singer/songwriter Steve Earle. She can sing some country, let me tell ya.

Neko Case and her Boyfriends. Kinda reminiscent of Loretta Lynn, but with a cow-punk feel.

If you want copies of any of this stuff, let me know and I can meet you for lunch or something.

Maeglin
08-30-2001, 02:17 PM
Actually, I like 80's music a hell of a lot more than I've liked anything since, but that's probably because that was the music from my youth.

80s music has been shat on for years....all until recently. Perhaps the nostalgia is precipitated by the massive success of outfits like, well, you all know who they are. Many of us would take Phil Collins or Guns 'n' Roses over certain music that appeals to kids today.

Unfortunately the music of my youth was late 80s, which I maintain is every bit as bad is it was then. My formative years were filled with New Kids On The Block and Nirvana, which filled me with no small amount of distaste. Now I am going back and listening to early 80s music, and am enjoying it immensely. Blondie. Soft Cell. Talking Heads. Every form of early 80s punk.

I wish I had actually grown up with this stuff.

Lucifer12
08-30-2001, 02:27 PM
Originally posted by jonfromdenver
going back to the original point, i'm damn sick of this pop music crap too. but what i really don't get is all the radio stations that have been playing 80s music lately. what the hell is that? haven't we all figured out that the 80s was an abomination in all respects, especially to music and fashion?

(Lucifer's eyes glow red)
Slowly I turned...

This is one of my greatest pet peeves-the lumping together of everything from the 80's. Some of the best music of the 20th century was made in the 80's!

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, though.
I'm sure you meant the awful (mostly) POP music from the 80's (Cyndi Lauper, Lionel Ritchie, etc), not ALL music from the 80's.

Surely you didn't mean Husker Du, The Replacements, Camper Van Beethoven, Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians, Prefab Sprout, The Cramps, Stiff Little Fingers, Black Flag, Lloyd Cole & The Commotions, The Minutemen, They Might Be Giants,etc.?

Not all of us were listening to Madonna and wearing parachute pants!

Stella*Fantasia
08-30-2001, 03:09 PM
Originally posted by Lucifer12
<snip>
Surely you didn't mean Husker Du, The Replacements, Camper Van Beethoven, Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians, Prefab Sprout, The Cramps, Stiff Little Fingers, Black Flag, Lloyd Cole & The Commotions, The Minutemen, They Might Be Giants,etc.?
<snip>


*swoons* Will you marry me? Or at least lend me your CDs?

Lucifer12
08-30-2001, 03:50 PM
Originally posted by Stella*Fantasia
Originally posted by Lucifer12
<snip>
Surely you didn't mean Husker Du, The Replacements, Camper Van Beethoven, Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians, Prefab Sprout, The Cramps, Stiff Little Fingers, Black Flag, Lloyd Cole & The Commotions, The Minutemen, They Might Be Giants,etc.?
<snip>


*swoons* Will you marry me? Or at least lend me your CDs?

Question#1: Yes.
Question#2: No. ;)

psychogumby
08-30-2001, 04:43 PM
... sometime in 1994. Well, the early 90's wasn't kind to music ... what, with talent like Freddie Mercury, Kurt Cobain and Frank Zappa passing away and all.

Although, music had been going gradually downhill for at least 3 or 4 years prior to this.

Nowadays, there are just a handful of musical formulae:

(1) The 'Techno For Dummies' Formula. Get some incessantly catchy break beat, put some appalling vocals to it, get anywhere between 1 and 5 blondes with big boobies to mime in the video and hey presto, instant Euro Top 40 Dance Hit! I am sure there are just one or two really dodgy guys living in the South of France that have 90% of this market cornered.

(2) The 'Brown Sugar' Formula. Take three or four very attractive women (with at least two members of the band being of a group being black), get them to use their usually not too bad voices, and mangle their angelic singing by putting it in a textbook R&B tune and make them use the word 'booty' at least 20 times in a song.

(3) The Manufactured Pop Band. Ah, too easy. Don't need to describe how one of these are made.

(4) The 'I'm A F..king Brit and If You Don't F..king Like It You Can Go F..k Yourself' Formula (a.k.a. BritPop). Oasis started this vile, evil trend. The label "Brit Pop" and/or "Indie" used to mean good quality music that was really different (e.g. The Smiths, The Cure etc). Now it just means some weedy little tosser whining about how he doesn't get enough groupies and when he does get groupies he ends up with a new range of STDs to take on the road with him. If I ever meet one of the Gallagher brothers I will personally kick the shite out of them ...

(5) The Teenage Angst Formula. Lots of piss and vinegar to heavy guitars. Korn. Limp Bizkit Etc.

---

Well, now i've deconstructed music, i'm going to try setting up a chain of acts that are heavily reliant on the Techno Teen Angst R&B Manufactured Brit Pop formula, and then sell the whole shebang to Sony for a shitload of cash! Hee hee hee!

ChockFullOfHeadyGoodness
08-30-2001, 05:43 PM
In response to the OP... For the USA, 1996. That's when the FCC deregulated radio. Previously a company was limited to 2 stations in any market, 1 FM and 1 AM. Now the majority of American commercial stations are owned by ClearChannel, Infinity, or Disney. Regional hits are a thing of the past.
Hell, even NPR is acting more and more like a corporation, jettisoning locally produced shows for syndicated stuff.

Add the fact the ClearChannel also owns a large number of concert venues and promoters (they own SFX) and you've got one nasty stranglehold on the music business. Too bad Pearl Jam lost their suit against Ticketmaster. Everyone will be too scared to challenge this monopoly.

Legomancer said:Top 40 radio has never been known for its eclectic nature, and has no reason to change.

I gotta STRONGLY disagree with the word never. Substitute for the past 10-15 years and I'd agree, but never? No way. Top 40 hasn't always been synonymous with lowest common denominator. 1960s Top 40 was legendary for being all over the map (or so my older sister says). Even as late as the late 70s, it was pretty eclectic. I can remember hearing Van Halen, Cheap Trick, Donna Summer, Aerosmith, Styx, Foreigner, The Cars, Barry Manilow, Led Zeppelin, The Village People, The Eagles, Alabama, and the Bee Gees all on the same station while in Junior High (1977-79). I can't picture any commercial station mixing country, disco, and rock today.

SqrlCub
08-31-2001, 11:11 AM
PsychoGumby! That was too funny. I think I love you. ;) You could probably add modern country in there and New Age then it will be almost a full circle.

Where are the Beatles of our generation?

HUGS!
Sqrl