Is today's music crap?

According to my tastes, there don’t seem to be as many good songs today as there used to be (let’s say, as measured by “Great songs per decade” or per year)

This could be due to
a) Songs quality has gone down
b) I’m an old fogie who can’t appreciate today’s music

I’m willing to accept (b), but I was wondering whether there are any objective ways of finding out if (a) or (b) is correct

One indication that it might be (a) is that there are so many nostalgia CDs and radio station segments (e.g. “Best of the 80’s” or “Best of the 70s” type CDs, or radio segments). As I recall, growing up, there was not much of that (about songs from past eras)

One possible future indication could be, if several years from now, 70’s and 80’s compilations sell better than 00’s compilations, but we’d have to wait a while to test this.

I should note that I actually do like some new songs, e.g.

  • Crazy by Gnarls Barkley
  • Everybody’s Changing by Keane
  • Almost any good trance/techno song
  • Some of Radiohead’s and Beck’s songs

so it’s not like I’m “stuck in the past”, but, on a per year basis, I don’t think we get as many “great songs”, i.e. songs that are epic and will last a long time.

As a side note, I think today’s songs, while hip and with a modern beat, are not as ‘musical’ as older songs. I’m not sure how to phrase this, but today’s songs (at least the mainstream ones) rely on a strong beat and not as much on a “melody”, and one effect is that you can sing an older song (in your head or out loud) and recreate most of the song, but with today’s songs, without that strong beat in the background, if you just say the lyrics, it doesn’t capture the song (not sure if this is a good thing or not, just describing my observations). Has anyone else noticed this, and can put it in better words?

Anyway, what do y’all think about today’s music vs older music?

Any old fogies who prefer today’s music?
Any youngsters who prefer older music?

Are there any objective metrics to see if we have indeed seen a decline in song quality?

Today’s popular music is shit. Today’s underground (and ultimately popular music) is a diverse plethora of musical styles and influences. I have a hot date, so I’ll respond more later. This year alone I’ve probably listened to 200 or so albums, so I know what I’m talking about if you want any suggestions or MP3s or whatever.

Yes. Like all music from all eras, 90% of it sucks. The stuff you remember from “when music was better” is the small percentage of stuff that has proven the test of time. A similar percentage of today’s music will be just as durable; the rest will fall away.

All music you don’t like is crap. The rest is great.

eh, there’s always a gap between what’s popular to produce and what’s real musicianship- hence the term, “selling out”, when good bands sacrifice art for sellability- old eric claption vs. new, just one example. There are bands and groups who actually do know how to make their instruments sing, but you’ll never find them on the top 40.

Not a chance! Music is entirely subjective, pretty much by definition.

Your mention of the nostalgia market is important. There’s huge business around continuing to produce the status quo. Reality TV is now a part of this. It’s not about music, just about what can be used to make money.

Prefer isn’t a necessity, is it? All I know is that I’ve left some pupils of mine dumbfounded simply by letting them browse through what I’ve got on iTunes. This happens for various reasons, but most often it’s because they make evident their assumption that I only ever listen to classical music. Finding hip hop in there, mostly UK stuff, is most often the biggest surprise for them. “But that’s what my brother listens to” is one response I will never forget.

Walk down to most any reputable jazz club and you will hear some good new music almost all the time.

Luckily not literally.

Oh God, no!!!11!1eleventyone!!

I’ve been addicted to the following song the last couple of weeks.

“Funeral” by Band of Horses

I like their David letterman appearance on YouTube more than the album version.

I would definitely say its been a loooong time since what I consider real ‘Rock’ music has been dominant in the Top 20. Before about the mid-90s I could recognize most all of the CDs in records stores’ ‘Top Selling CDs’ rack. Def Leppard, Guns n Roses, Nirvana, Sound Garden, Metallica, Green Day, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots…

Now, not a clue.

This is mostly due to the predominance of rap, almost all of which isn’t even music as far as I’m concerned. That and the never ending series of Britney-clones (Jessica, Christina, Mandy, Ashlee etc.).

My tastes haven’t changed, just the mainstream public’s has. There is still the occasional great hard rock band today, Evanescence, Creed, Fall Out Boy, Velvet Revolver. But they’re the exceptions now, not the rule.

So yeah, today’s Top 40 popular music is most definitely crap. :smiley:

I’m not sure there’s anything more to say.

No, but people seem to love the crap more than the stuff worth listening to. Was it any different in the 60s and 70s? I bet not.

There is so much great music out there right now, it’s terrible that the mainstream setup has failed us so badly. The biggest hit on our local “Rock” station is a cover of the 15 year-old song “Zombie”. And that’s the best station we have. Unless you want to do the “Jack FM” thing.

Myspace might be the answer, as awful as it seems.

If you have time, patience, and/or likeminded friends, there is some absurdly fantastic music out there just waiting to be discovered. Good luck finding it on the TV or radio, though. You pretty much have to search for it in person or online.

I’m reading the LiveJournal of cartoonist Jeph Jacques & enjoying to his electric guitar work (especially this cover). Took a break from hitting the next post to let a song finish, came to SDMB.

I deny the OP’s premise.

What can I say? There’s been a division between pop music & connoisseur music since the days of bebop in any case, arguably since the days of baroque if not forever. I suppose it’s culturally variable, somehow. Maybe it’s different in, say, Italy. But maybe not.

For recent pop, I really like Shakira & can enjoy Mandy Moore or Christina Aguilera; but I don’t expect everyone to like that anymore than everyone loved Air Supply or Olivia Newton-John 26 years ago.

I agree that most hip-hop is lame.

Thanks for the link, Tahssa! That was pretty cool.

These statements are making steam come out of my ears! Does… not… compute…

As lissener points out, most music has always been forgettable. It’s as time passes that you forget the stuff that sucked, and remember the past as being heady days when everything was the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Aretha.

Here, according to one source, are the top 20 hits of 1973:

  1. Tie A Yellow Ribbon 'Round The Ole Oak Tree, Tony Orlando and Dawn
  2. Bad Bad Leroy Brown, Jim Croce
  3. Killing Me Softly With His Song, Roberta Flack
  4. Let’s Get It On, Marvin Gaye
  5. My Love, Paul McCartney and Wings
  6. Why Me, Kris Kristofferson
  7. Crocodile Rock, Elton John
  8. Will It Go Round In Circles, Billy Preston
  9. You’re So Vain, Carly Simon
  10. Touch Me In The Morning, Diana Ross
  11. The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia, Vicki Lawrence
  12. Playground In My Mind, Clint Holmes
  13. Brother Louie, Stories
  14. Delta Dawn, Helen Reddy
  15. Me And Mrs. Jones, Billy Paul
  16. Frankenstein, Edgar Winter Group
  17. Drift Away, Dobie Gray
  18. Little Willy, Sweet
  19. You Are The Sunshine Of My Life, Stevie Wonder
  20. Half Breed, Cher

How many REALLY good songs are on there? I count 3, plus another three or four that at least are memorable, if not great. Most are bad and/or too bland to be remembered.

How about, say, 1968, surely a magnificent year for music?

  1. Hey Jude, The Beatles
  2. Honey, Bobby Goldsboro
  3. Love Is Blue, Paul Mauriat
  4. (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay, Otis Redding
  5. People Got To Be Free, Rascals
  6. Sunshine Of Your Love, Cream
  7. This Guy’s In Love With You, Herb Alpert
  8. Stoned Soul Picnic, Fifth Dimension
  9. Mrs. Robinson, Simon and Garfunkel
  10. Tighten Up, Archie Bell and The Drells
  11. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, Hugo Montenegro
  12. Little Green Apples, O.C. Smith
  13. Mony, Mony, Tommy James and The Shondells
  14. Hello, I Love You, The Doors
  15. Young Girl, Gary Puckett and The Union Gap
  16. Cry Like A Baby, Box Tops
  17. Harper Valley P.T.A., Jeannie C. Riley
  18. Grazing In The Grass, Hugh Masekela
  19. Midnight Confessions, The Grass Roots
  20. Dance To The Music, Sly and The Family Stone

Okay, a better year. Five great songs. (I am NOT counting “Mony Mony” as a great song, but it’s memorable.) But STILL mostly bland, forgettable crap, and some genuinely bad songs there. Bobby Goldsboro? Herp Alpert? “Harper Valley PTA”? Holy shit.

^^^Christ, I remember all of those songs, bland or not, so to say they are “forgettable” is definitely untrue. Bland, sure, I agree.

FTR, I was four in 68, nine in '73, so they were still being played well into the 70s and up, and today on oldie stations. Whether any are “great” is a matter of taste and opinion, of course

Sir Rhosis

I’m 22 and I think the quality of music has steadily declined since 1827 :wink: