Current top 40 music

Hello Everyone,

Is it just me or does today’s top 40 music just plain suck compared to the music of the 60s, 70s and 80s? Is there even rock and roll anymore. When my kids convince me to tune into today’s music I never seem to hear guitars anymore, everything seems like electric babble.

Maybe I’m just getting old, but I just can’t seem to enjoy any of today’s pop music. Give me some Fleetwood Mac, .38 Special, Boston etc. anytime.

Part of me wants to agree with you, but: Isn’t what you’re saying (and what I’m sometimes thinking) about today’s popular music pretty much the same sort of thing that parents/old fogeys were saying in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s about the popular music of those eras?

Yes, in a way. But I can remember my parents liking some of the music from the 80s. Especially groups life Chicago, Toto etc.

I’ve never understood the war. You like some music, great. You don’t, then you don’t. Who is holding a knife to your throat? Music is not a right. Go find the shit you like. And the top 40? Why pick from 40 when there are thousands to choose from? Top 40 owes you nothing.

Most popular music in all eras is pretty poor. It becomes popular because each new generation of teens, who are only just beginning to develop any sort of musical taste, latch on to it as “our” music that speaks for their generation. In later years that same generation will be unable to be objective about their own era in part due to nostalgia, and in part because the era becomes remembered by those few recordings of true quality whereas the huge amount of dross is completely forgotten.

Not the same thing. Parents back then were claiming rock wasn’t legitimate music. Nowadays we’re complaining that there’s no (or very little) real music at all.

I know a guy in his mid-thirties, encyclopedic knowledge of music of all kinds, owned his own recording studio. He sold it last year because he’s become so disgusted with the state of music nowadays (i.e., the lack of it) that he just completely lost his passion for it. He says economics are behind the fact we have so much dreck these days. Music, and the market for it, have become so fragmented that it no longer pays for recording studios to finance records by bands of actual musicians. Instead it’s mostly pop princes and princesses warbling simple tunes backed up by electronics.

I’ve often thought that Taylor Swift, a superstar in today’s music world, would be little more than a middling pop princess in the 60s or 70s and not taken all that seriously as either a singer or songwriter. I mean seriously, compare her with Carole King, Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell, Ann Wilson, etc. and she pales pretty badly.

People say there’s still great music being made today, you just have to look for it. But that’s the problem. It’s too difficult and time-consuming to have to go ferreting around in Youtube or wherever to try to find someone putting out good music. That’s what was so great about Top 40 (and FM) radio in previous decades. They played songs they thought people would like, and if you liked someone’s music, great, you could buy their singles and albums and explore their music. If you didn’t, you changed the station until you found something else you did like. But rummaging around trying to find some obscure musician or band whose music you do like? Ain’t nobody got time for that! :dubious:

Yes, today’s pop music is rubbish compared to true artists like Duran Duran, New Kids on the Block, Twisted Sister and Poison…

I know you’re being sarcastic but the truth is you’re correct. Today’s music is rubbish compared even to them.

Exactly. The Top 40 is the top 40 songs of the WEEK. Of course it can’t compare with even the top 200 songs of a decade.

And although I’m as curmudgeonly a curmudgeon as you can find, and can often look at a top 40 list and not recognize a single song or artist, what in the wide wide world of sports was Starving Artist thinking when he singled out Taylor Swift as a mediocre talent? She’s a once in a generation talent, IMO.

I’ll agree most top 40 is garbage from all eras. I used the term to mean what is played on the radio. But seriously, where did all the screaming guitars go?

So music is only music if it’s guitar-based? I missed that memo.

To each their own, but personally I find some degree of novelty is critical to me enjoying a piece of music. That novelty can come in melody, harmony, rhythm, clever verse…or, indeed, timbre.
Why some people want to take one or more of these options off the table, I’ll never understand.

Read together seems your objection is not that "Top 40 music today sucks " but rather that “Top 40 music today is predominately rnb/hiphop/rave and I hate that shit!”.

And while tastes are subjective, its accurate to note that guitarbased groups do not feature as heavily in the Top 40 as they used to and have arguably been in decline (note: not “dead” or even “dying”) for the past twenty years.

You’re not being a curmudgeon by not liking todays pop music - only if you pretend that todays pop music is inferior to pop music of bygone eras.

I was a metalhead (and still am) teen in the nineties. It was particularly popular meme in certain circles back then to dismiss popular electronic music (house, trance, drum n bass etc) as “not being real music”.

“Where’s the melody? They’re just banging on a keyboard - it’s not even a real instrument.” :rolleyes:

I will be the first to say “Yeah - More Guitar!!” :wink: but am happy to keep my mind open to all music.

  • Sturgeon’s Law applies: 95% of everything is crap. We are in the middle of Today’s crap, but can look back and focus on what has endured.
  • Rock/Guitar-based music was in its ascendancy: All the rules were being set, broken and explored.
  • Electric Guitars were new: we were figuring out what can be done by sticking a microphone into a plank of wood and hooking it up to a sonic death cannon, er, Marshall stack. Innovations in guitar approach fed into innovations in music and vice-versa. Same with new synths, etc.
  • Music Mattered More: as I have asserted many times on the SDMB, music was a central cultural differentiator at the time. It defined the Generation Gap. Now, the Internet has that role - it is the thing parents don’t understand and are scared of. So we also mourn the central importance that music used to have.
  • Music Choices Mattered More: everyone can now listen to anything at anytime. Back in the day, you had to make choices about what music you accessed and how you accessed it. Part of this feeling is that we no longer “collect” special albums, we “curate” Pandora streams, or leaving the curating to dj’s. And you got to groove on album covers and liner notes - man, I miss that.

So it’s complicated. I think the music was cooler and more innovative, but also that music mattered more culturally and personally in a different way.

Thinking out loud.

Thread relocated from IMHO to Cafe Society.

How good can music be, when a virtual monopoly corporation (Sony BMG) is creating a lowest common denominator global market taste and the cheapest possible music product to fill it? It’s like expecting inBev and SABMiller to make good beer.

This past weekend, we were driving home from out of the area. I hit scan on the radio and came across Ryan Seacrest hosting a top-40 show. We started listening in the twenties or teens, and every song (we heard about five) was a ballad vocal over what seemed to be electronic music. I remarked to my wife, “Is this what passes for top-40 now – heavy vocals over computer-generated music?” She agreed that the songs weren’t very good, and we both lamented on how old we’re getting and how kids today don’t get exposed to good pop music.

That radio station started fading, so I hit scan again. Casey Kasem’s voice made me stop, and it was one of those American Top 40 replays that they’re doing now. The first song we heard was Peter McCann’s “Do You Want to Make Love (Or Do You Just Want to Fool Around).” And the next was Peter Frampton’s “I’m In You.” I cringed. I like both songs well enough, but they’re really not all that great. Two vocal-heavy ballads over generic music. I looked at my wife and said, “I take back what I just said.”

The upshot is that I don’t think things have changed all that much over the years in pop music. The top-40 stuff of today will be the classics of tomorrow.

I had that same experience last weekend.
I took a road trip, and the 70s channel on satellite radio was replaying Casey Kasem’s American Top Forty from this week in 1970. I thought “great! a solid chunk of good music”.
Nope, 37 sucky or never-heard-of songs to the 3 that I did like.

So, shitty AOR dinosaurs (Early FM excepted)? I’ll gladly take a million Taylor Swifts* over the return of any of that soft rock dreck. Was just watching VH1 and they had this piece of garbage on. Yeah, that’s real “screaming guitars” there, man.

*I actually mostly like Taylor Swift’s music, and I generally don’t listen to much mainstream pop at all.

Art is always trying to move forward and be different than what came before it. If pop music still sounded the same as it did in the 60s or 70s people would say it’s boring or derivative or the artists doing it are cheap imitations of the “real deal.”

You didn’t get screaming guitars in the 70s and 80s because guys in the 50s and 60s were doing it. You got that because it was different than what came before. Disco was different. Punk was different than that. Synth was different than punk. Alternative was different than synth. Hip hop grew up along the side and punched everyone in the head, and it has its own levels of innovation and imitation and suckitude.

I don’t see the sense or value in comparing music of today with music from before, at a 1:1 level. Heck, comparing what you like today versus what you liked as a teen or a young adult is even trite because you’re a completely different person now.

Music is super fragmented now too. There are a lot of different charts and radio stations. Corporate radio is really just a soundtrack to go along side of commercials. They know you’re listening to your iPod or satellite radio instead. No one is striving to put quality music on the air (the free radio spectrum). The biggest problem with “music these days” is probably just that there’s too much of it and what is on the radio is the oddly tree-covered tip of the iceberg.

Just like The Monkees existed alongside Jimi Hendrix, and Herman’s Hermits existed alongside Pink Floyd, there are plenty of gems that exist today. You just can’t flip on the radio and expect to hear a good sample of things. Radio is not setting the trend, radio is not representing the culture, radio is just selling ad space.