We hear it all the time. “Why is music so bad today?” I’m not so sure it is actually. If you’re past 30, your musical tastes are pretty much set in stone, so it gets more difficult to accept new music with each passing year. That doesn’t mean what’s new is better or worse than what you enjoy though. Pop music especially has always had its share of inane, poorly or lazily written songs that captured a high chart spot (ironically we now treat some of these as “classics”). The video below makes a point of stating that pop music today is at a particular low point though.
The video by Thoughty2 cites a number of studies that have found that music today has changed in 3 areas:
• Harmonic complexity – much less diversity in instruments
• Timbral diversity – dropped drastically due to the same combination of drum machine and samplers used
• Loudness – increase to overcome a shorted attention span
It also found that songs hooks now comes earlier trying to overcome that shortened attention span, and that the lyrical intelligence has dropped. It also cites something known as “The Millennial Whoop,” a 2 note sequence that seems to be in every song today (didn’t know about that one).
Thoughty2 contends that music consumers today don’t really like the hits they’re listening to but they’ve been brainwashed into liking them because they are heard everywhere constantly (scientifically called the “Mere-Exposure Effect.”) The labels actively encourage this since their risk is now so high – on the order of $500,000 to $3 million for every artist it signs.
I certainly buy Thoughty2’s argument but only to a point. Like I said before, there’s always been music that we consider to be good or bad. The problem is that one man’s good is another’s bad, and vice-versa. Taste is the ultimate dictator when it comes to music and it’s different for every single one of us.
I’ve learned to respect a hit because in some way, shape or form, it’s caught lightning in a bottle. Regardless of whether I like it or not, millions of other people do, and that makes it worth examining and, as a producer, learning from.
That said, the video is worth watching. Enjoy.