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Old Aug 15th, 2012, 07:47 PM   #76
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Re: Does contemporary popular/mainstream music mostly suck?

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Originally Posted by dybbuk View Post
but like always when you are made a fool you stop responding to the thread.
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Old Aug 15th, 2012, 07:50 PM   #77
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Re: Does contemporary popular/mainstream music mostly suck?

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Originally Posted by moby View Post
I don't see how pop snobbery is different from general music snobbery. There is no contradiction because they both exist on different planes of taste. I know a lot of people who are fairly reasonably trained in classical music and surely have much better appreciation of that than I do but have horrible taste in pop music, preferring very mainstream unexciting stuff.

On the other hand, I also know people who live and die by Pitchfork, do not know any mainstream acts to even begin to make a comparison.

My understanding is that "taste" is not something that can be solely acquired by formal education. It's ultimately a cultural product. Exposure makes a difference; and by extension, social class makes a difference. One would like to think that there is also some measure of the inner aesthete thrown into that mix to bring legitimacy to the whole idea of taste.

Anyway, I would argue that pop snobbery is much more relevant than music snobbery these days by virtue of the very accessibility of pop.
I've went around and around with Apoleb (RIP) in here so I just can't be bothered to rehash all my arguments. Apoleb and I basically ended up with a semi-agreement and I think we basically agreed, just viewed it from different angles. I have nothing against pop music, and I listen to pop music far more than I listen to classical music. My argument was always just against pop snobbery that places artists like say Led Zeppelin or Joy Division at or near the pinnacle of music and innovation, and trashes "mainstream pop" as derivative and simple. When at the heart of it, the pop song format (which basically every single rock, pop, R&B, etc act uses) is at it's heart relatively simplistic compared to other forms of music. This is by no means a knock on it; I have nothing against it and enjoy the pop song form. But some people lack self-awareness to such an extent they can honestly take Joy Division and not realize their music is comparatively simple in form and substance.

As I said with Apoleb, of course you can think Kate Bush does the pop song far, far better than someone like Katy Perry, but you can do it without the snobbery of "Sigh, music reached it's pinnacle in the 60s/70s/80s/90s! Now everything is simple-minded trash!" as if all musical history led up to the pure, innovative genius of 70s punk or something.
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Old Aug 15th, 2012, 08:05 PM   #78
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Re: Does contemporary popular/mainstream music mostly suck?

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Originally Posted by dybbuk View Post
I My argument was always just against pop snobbery that places artists like say Led Zeppelin or Joy Division at or near the pinnacle of music and innovation, and trashes "mainstream pop" as derivative and simple.
Again - your focus on "simplistic" shows that you have a very limited view. Do you really think that something can't be both simple and innovative or that complexity is measure of quality? You express your opinions well but they're all snug in a tiny and very shaky box. In fact, the very idea that judging the merits of various eras of popular music is "snobbery" is inane. About the only poster I've read in this thread who seems to be awash in snobbery is you. For instance implying that you're musically well-educated and so your limited assessment somehow holds more water than that of others.

Once again - there is a lot of popular music (going by your sweeping definition) that is more complex than a lot of what is now called classical music. But that parameter is irrelevant to whether or not it's more innovative and/or richer in timbre and feeling.
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Old Aug 15th, 2012, 08:48 PM   #79
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Re: Does contemporary popular/mainstream music mostly suck?

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Originally Posted by dybbuk View Post
I've went around and around with Apoleb (RIP) in here so I just can't be bothered to rehash all my arguments. Apoleb and I basically ended up with a semi-agreement and I think we basically agreed, just viewed it from different angles. I have nothing against pop music, and I listen to pop music far more than I listen to classical music. My argument was always just against pop snobbery that places artists like say Led Zeppelin or Joy Division at or near the pinnacle of music and innovation, and trashes "mainstream pop" as derivative and simple. When at the heart of it, the pop song format (which basically every single rock, pop, R&B, etc act uses) is at it's heart relatively simplistic compared to other forms of music. This is by no means a knock on it; I have nothing against it and enjoy the pop song form. But some people lack self-awareness to such an extent they can honestly take Joy Division and not realize their music is comparatively simple in form and substance.

As I said with Apoleb, of course you can think Kate Bush does the pop song far, far better than someone like Katy Perry, but you can do it without the snobbery of "Sigh, music reached it's pinnacle in the 60s/70s/80s/90s! Now everything is simple-minded trash!" as if all musical history led up to the pure, innovative genius of 70s punk or something.
A personal pet peeve of mine. I know it was just an example to prove a point, but punk was not a purely innovative movement at all. Musically, punk was rockabilly sped up. Aesthetically, punk was dada in the '70s. Politically, it was anarchism. It's always funny to me that punk is hailed as a purely innovative movement, when it's not. It was a pure movement only in the sense that it wanted to simplify (purify) music.

So I would agree with the part of your argument about the relative simplicity of pop music (whatever one's conception of it may be) compared to classical music. I don't think that's negotiable. You actually chose a great example of a pop music genre to illustrate this point (punk). A punk song will not have more than three chords because Punk wanted to simplify music after progressive rock, which of course had its roots precisely in classical music. You listen to a band like Gentle Giant and you can really understand why punk emerged when it emerged. Kind of how grunge wanted to simplify music after the pompousness of the '80s.

I don't think there's anything to the argument about pop's "derivativeness." How far back would you have to go to get to a truly "non-derivative" music genre? Surely, you will not find it in the 20th century. Jazz comes from ragtime. Soul comes from Negro spirituals. Rock comes from R&B and doo-wop. Etc. It's just pointless to call pop "derivative" in the pejorative sense.
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Old Aug 16th, 2012, 10:06 AM   #80
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Re: Does contemporary popular/mainstream music mostly suck?

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Originally Posted by dybbuk View Post
But some people lack self-awareness to such an extent they can honestly take Joy Division and not realize their music is comparatively simple in form and substance.
the form may be simple, but the substance is not. that's what separates a bad from a good pop song.
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Old Aug 16th, 2012, 07:33 PM   #81
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Re: Does contemporary popular/mainstream music mostly suck?

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Originally Posted by dybbuk View Post
I've went around and around with Apoleb (RIP) in here so I just can't be bothered to rehash all my arguments. Apoleb and I basically ended up with a semi-agreement and I think we basically agreed, just viewed it from different angles. I have nothing against pop music, and I listen to pop music far more than I listen to classical music. My argument was always just against pop snobbery that places artists like say Led Zeppelin or Joy Division at or near the pinnacle of music and innovation, and trashes "mainstream pop" as derivative and simple. When at the heart of it, the pop song format (which basically every single rock, pop, R&B, etc act uses) is at it's heart relatively simplistic compared to other forms of music. This is by no means a knock on it; I have nothing against it and enjoy the pop song form. But some people lack self-awareness to such an extent they can honestly take Joy Division and not realize their music is comparatively simple in form and substance.
i regularly come into conflicts with people who can't stand it that someone might put their favourite artists in the same category as some they despise but that's basically how it is. it's even worse with people who don't talk about artists but about genres being inherently better than some others. not to mention the talk about people making their own music, writing their own lyrics and playing their own instruments while others don't. i mean, come on. it is a legit approach if we say it's all a matter of taste but such people usually don't think it's all a matter of taste.

i think all pop music has its limits and that's not a bad thing. actually, it was mentioned here that punk wanted to make music more simple and that was a great idea. pop music is simple and that's how it should be. simplicity is not a weakness, it is a strength. it's like complaining that now everybody can make music rather than just people who can play instruments but i think it's good that making music is now easier than in the past.

the real problem of modern pop music is distribution. it's easy to make and publish music but it's very difficult to promote it. the music industry relies on the least risky acts for the most part which is why the music in the charts tends to suck indeed. they already had problems figuring out what to do with some truely "indie" music, like dance back in the 90's which had it's own dynamics while still relying on conventional (but alternative) distribution channels. but digital releases are just killing them. meanwhile, artists can get plenty of fans all around the globe but spread out thinly. it's not the same thing having 10,000 fans only in one city of a million people and having the same number of fans spread around the globe.
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Old Oct 14th, 2012, 12:04 AM   #82
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Re: Does contemporary popular/mainstream music mostly suck?

Pov, were you talking lyrics when you said this? I found this article: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/...013-27j4r.html

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The lyrics for the new James Bond theme song take the cake for stupidity, but that will be no impediment to sales success, because it is sung by Adele. The world's most bankable white soul singer (plus a 77-piece orchestra) can give gravitas to such nonsense as ''Skyfall is where we start, a thousand miles and poles apart, where worlds collide and days are dark, you may have my number, you can take my name, but you'll never have my heart.''
Skyfall will soar to the top of the chart and replace the current No. 1, Gangnam Style, which was described by a Sydney newspaper recently as ''a brilliant satire'' on ''credit card-touting cashed-up bogans''.
Listen closely and you'll have trouble detecting the satire. Don't panic. You're not suffering from aphasia. Apart from the words ''sexy lady'', Gangnam Style is in Korean. Its author, who calls himself Psy, is a Seoul singer.

I don't know because I don't really know any of these songs but the lyrics for these new songs are terrible.
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Old Oct 14th, 2012, 12:20 AM   #83
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Re: Does contemporary popular/mainstream music mostly suck?

Mainstream pop ? I'd say its better than 10-15 years ago. Sure, no match for 70s and 80s, but comparing to 90s/early 00s boysband/girlsband/Britney Spears crap, it sounds better. However, what makes me sad, and what really matters to me, is condition of rock. There are no true rockers anymore. Rock is not cool anymore, rock won't get you laid, so there are no great rock bands anymore...
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Old Oct 14th, 2012, 02:30 AM   #84
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Re: Does contemporary popular/mainstream music mostly suck?

I want to reply to this thread somewhat out of context because I'd like to define pop.

I never think of 'pop' as a dirty word or an abbreviation of the word popular. Sure it started out that way, but basically what it's become is a framework or a blueprint for most contemporary music. We have subgenres of pop like indie-pop for instance, which would be a complete oxymoron if we accepted the most basic definition of pop (pop = popular). Otherwise, what would you call the Kate Alexa's of the world (other than crap)?

What I like about the indie scene so much is that like most people, I love that pop framework/blueprint I mentioned earlier. To me, it just makes sense and feels completely natural for music to be consumed in that way by the listener. But on the topic of 'indie': the best artists I find are the ones who know how to push the boundaries of that framework (without overstepping them) and create something interesting enough to stand out from mainstream pop music which is, for the most part, oversimplified and lacking those subtle touches/moments that make music so exciting for me; burying big hooks in atmosphere and guitars is admirable when it's so easy to put everything front and centre.

I am a music snob in that I find most mainstream music uninteresting and uninspiring. The charts are full of brash, overtly-sexual, simplistic songs that are based on gimmickery and the reputation of their artists before craft and innovation. I have nothing against this kind of music and I do keep up with the charts, it's just that everything is so far above the surface that there's no need for repeat listens. I'll go clubbing to chart music anyday, but if I can know a song completely inside-out after 2 or 3 listens, then I probably don't need to buy the album.
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Old Oct 14th, 2012, 10:05 AM   #85
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Re: Does contemporary popular/mainstream music mostly suck?

I only want to talk about the notion that 'classical' anything is somehow more artistic as well as requireing more talant than the 'popular' arts.... I remember seeing the world's prima ballerina on Oprah one day... don't remember anything about the show except for the fact that at the end they were playing music and there were other artists there. The music contained a syncopated beat and that prima ballerina couldn't find the beat if I had went up there and clapped her hands for her.

Another example I'll show you is from So You Think You Can Dance



Why couldn't this dancer who dances to more complex music in a much more complex/talented area ballet could barely perform the more simplistic hip hop routine.

The question is can you learn to have rhythm like you can learn to stand on point? Yet there are snobs out there (some in this thread I'm sure) who probably would think a ballet dancer as being the more talented artist.

There is no way to compare who has more talent or which music requires more talent. Yes today because of big business they have removed 'talent' from the popular music format but that does not mean that in the past 'popular' artist weren't as talented as anyone else. Just because a musical piece isn't as complex or more simple than something else doesn't make it lesser as a matter of fact making something simple yet profound is quite difficult.

That's like comparing Haiku poetry to sonnets.... It should never be done.

Anyway, mainstream music sucks today because it's just about making money and money ONLY. At least back in the day people could sing, or play instruments well, or do all of that and write.

I'm sorry but saying there's no difference between Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and Prince than lets say aw hell I can't even think of someone even worth mentioning in the same paragraph .....

I'm only talking about new artists though there are still some talented people making music that get played on the radio.... He's crazy and nasty but one thing he can do is write a song and that's R. Kelly.

BTW, I like Adele but other than Rolling in the Deep, and Chasing Payments.... her music makes me want to snooze a little ... she needs better material to highlight her voice.

So to answer the question mainstream music played on the radio has gone in the crapper. Hell if nothing else we have lost diversity in artist. The radio use to play a lot of artists now they rotate the same ten to 15 songs over and over to you are about to puke. Which is why I guess I listen to the oldies stations. Speaking of which there were not nearly as many oldie stations in the past as there are now. Hopefully, the internet and streaming music will help diversify the amount of artists one gets to hear on the radio but who knows.
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Old Oct 14th, 2012, 10:28 AM   #86
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Re: Does contemporary popular/mainstream music mostly suck?

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Mainstream pop ? I'd say its better than 10-15 years ago. Sure, no match for 70s and 80s, but comparing to 90s/early 00s boysband/girlsband/Britney Spears crap, it sounds better. However, what makes me sad, and what really matters to me, is condition of rock. There are no true rockers anymore. Rock is not cool anymore, rock won't get you laid, so there are no great rock bands anymore...
True. The state of rock's popularity also depresses me. But then, it's kind of up to the listener to make it relevant again. I have no doubt that there are many who wish rock would be played more but don't say anything to radio stations, and so nothing changes and electropop continues to dominate.

Most rock bands can still sell albums OK at least, if only because they know their fanbases will come through for them .
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Old Oct 14th, 2012, 12:39 PM   #87
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Re: Does contemporary popular/mainstream music mostly suck?

I'd say music played on mainstream radios is like this:

15%: Can't listen.
20%: Don't want to listen.
35%: Comes in to one ear, comes out from another.
10%: OK stuff, yet wouldn't listen it unless it came from radio.
10%: I like it, yet it's not too good.
10%: Great stuff.

And I'd say mainstream pop has gotten worse. And I think the reason is that current mainstream music is made to get attention. Deliberately irritating song (like all Lady Gaga's production) gets much attention, and music channels brainwash people to thik it's really good and worth buying. And add to that that no matter how bad a song you have, all you need is to look like a porn star and all wankers are your fans. And then your music is played even more on MTV, and also others start to think it's good music.

A great example on how pop music now needs to be spectacular rather than good is Black Eyed Peas. I really love their earlier production, yet their last two albums have sounded like another group. They're now only mainstream disco pop, music I don't like to hear. Obviously that has made them more popular, more people notice their songs and buy albums. It seems they didn't have the attitude they have in this song:



"All they want is boom, boom boom, boom..." Well, the first single from the E.N.D. was Boom Boom Pow.
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Old Oct 15th, 2012, 01:02 AM   #88
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Re: Does contemporary popular/mainstream music mostly suck?

^I think Gaga actually makes quite good pop compared to others. Theres quite a lot of thought going in there and she is undoubtedly talented. People dont like her image so they bash the music.
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Old Oct 16th, 2012, 10:29 PM   #89
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Re: Does contemporary music mostly suck?

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This is an argument music critic Simon Reynolds puts forward in his book "Retromania."* Neither this decade (so far), nor the one before it produced a brand new music genre. Reynolds' claim is that, starting with the 2000s, popular music stopped evolving. He says that, unlike past decades (eg. '50s rock and roll, '60s psychedelic rock, '70s post-punk, '80s indie rock and college rock, '90s rave, etc.), the 2000s produced no new music genres. There's no innovation in pop music, there's just a return to past trends. In the early 2000s, you had a return to garage rock (The Hives, the Vines, The Strokes, The White Stripes, etc.). Then you had a return to post-punk (The National, Interpol), which slowly morphed into new wave (The Killers, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, French Films, Future Islands), which was probably the key popular genre in the 2000s. This cycle was reminiscent of how in the mid-'60s you had garage rock, in the late '70s you had post-punk, which eventually morphed into '80s new wave and dominated the '80s. There was also a return to folk somewhere in-between (The Decemberists, Fleet Foxes, Devendra Banhart). Then, in the early 2010s, you had a return to space rock in the vein of ELO or Ziggy Stardust (Smiths Westerns, The Antlers). PJ Harvey also recorded a dream pop/space rock album. You also had a return to dream pop (Beach House, St. Vincent) and blues (Jack White). I'd say all of these acts are pop acts compared to experimental acts like, say, Ariel Pink, Laurie Anderson or Annette Peacock. So yes, pop music these days lacks innovation. Sure, not a new concept. But I'd say there still is variety within pop music, which is more important for me. It's just more difficult to dig out good pop music because you don't have a unifying concept like "radio", "vinyl" or "CD" anymore. The Internet made pop music more dispersed.

* A great read, and it has a great cover. I also recommend his book on post-punk.
Excellent very informed post. Rather suprised that you would then make the sweeping statements you did about punk rock as punk rock came in many different varieties with many different approaches and attitudes. To suggest it is all sped up rockabilly strikes me as a very simplistic statement from someone who judging from the post I am quoting actually appears to have a pretty good grasp on musical developement over the last 60 or so years. Within the wide umbrella of what could be defined as punk rock there was plenty of innovation although much of it could probably fall into the subdivision of post punk.
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Old Oct 16th, 2012, 10:58 PM   #90
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Re: Does contemporary popular/mainstream music mostly suck?

contemporary popular/mainstream music mostly suck,absolutely true. It's really hard to find anything worth listening on headphones like Audio-Technica ATH-A900 or Grado SR 325. Gotye, Adel and a few more, the rest of the singers/composers are just doing business, not music
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